St Mary's, Codford
I am David Shaw and as Vice Chairman of the PCC I welcome you on behalf of Bridget Lorimer, Lionel French and Diane Harvey who, with me, are Deputy Wardens of St Mary’s Church, and the PCC, together with our Congregation and Friends, to our beautiful church here at the top of Church Lane in Codford St Mary. The four of us combine lifetimes of business, teaching and public service to lead some devoted and hard-working people who make St Mary’s work. Our PCC is privileged to look after a building that has survived and served its community for 750 years and now provides a comfortable and comforting place to worship regularly and, more occasionally in which to marry, to be baptised, to be buried and also to celebrate music and song, melody, verse, oratory and enjoy the provision of a forum for a multitude of other festivities and functions.
A splendid example of the whole community coming together occurred in December 2022 when 18 different village activities were represented at a Christmas Tree Festival. Some pictures are shown below and others later.
On the one hand St Mary’s is a quiet place for prayer and reflection, and for that purpose it is open all day, every day from about 9 am to 5 pm, but on the other a joyful and resounding venue for offering praise and thanksgiving at least twice a month. One of the benefits of parochialism is everyone does know each other and looks after each other. People volunteer readily to help in our church and churchyard, at fundraising events, and other community occasions within the village.
The church is kept clean and tidy, and our flower arrangements are stunning; reading, sides people, refreshment and other rosters are effectively maintained
. In fact, a small number of people do a great deal, and their help is much appreciated. Others from outside the church community give their expertise and time willingly.
We are, however, a somewhat ‘conservative’ lot in St Mary’s. Our congregation covers the age bracket 9 to 90 (and until 2022 our oldest parishioner was 102!) and our inclination is to the traditional, but we have embraced most of the Church of England’s innovations readily and happily. We have moved with the times, and familiarity with ‘new’ orders of service has bred contentment. Our attitude tends to reflect the average age of our congregation, but we can cope with almost anything occasionally; we retain Hymns Ancient and Modern books but the newer Common Praise is now our hymn book of choice as it gives us more flexibility. Our congregations are not large enough to manage more than one unknown hymn in a service. We are lucky to have a number of visiting organists but made the bold, but prescient, decision a few years ago to replace our defunct organ with a modern, digital one that allows us to play hymns previously recorded on the organ when no human organist is available. We welcome strangers in our midst and enjoy their presence. In essence, St Mary’s is a welcoming church and is a natural focus for an easy-going and happy community.
The church sits on rising ground on the edge of the village overlooking fields in a delightful part of Wiltshire. It seats up to 120 in ancient but comfortable surroundings that provide a joyful venue for weddings and baptisms especially, and a serene setting for the end of life too. The church is fitted with a modern sound and loop system and is (relatively) warm in winter and cool in summer.
For half a century our Tenor bell, cast in 1582, has remained silent with a crack but in 2021 this was repaired allowing all three to ring out once again. This was augmented by an electronic chiming mechanism that can be programmed to ring the bells when live bellringers are not available, and it is also linked to allow the clock to chime on the quarter hour in daylight hours. The project was funded by private donation and some grant-making trusts. In 2022 our clock, whose bell until the early 70s summoned children to school, had a face lift and now not only chimes in time with the world clock but looks the part too.
In addition in 2022, in the Platinum Jubilee Year of our Queen, we commissioned a heraldic painting by Potters of Aldershot (the world famous emblazoners of especially military drums and other accoutrements) of the Royal Arms on wood and framed to match the existing roll of honour of the 1st World War dead of St Mary’s. The result is a beautiful and long-lasting tribute to Her Majesty, our Late Queen, of which we are immensely proud.
Maintaining the church is a worry, but no different to those of any custodian of an historic building. The PCC is responsible for co-ordinating this maintenance, but repairs are paid for, usually, by donations from the Friends of St Mary’s, a benevolent local group of supporters whose fundraising efforts usually cope with any improvements or replacements to the fabric. Together with the PCC’s ‘future-proofing’ aims, this partnership works harmoniously for the good of the church.
The ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) cemetery is adjacent to the church in Church Lane. It is the final resting place of 66 New Zealanders and 31 Australians from World War 1, and we are proud to provide the local link with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who maintains the site so beautifully. The Visitors’ Book in our church bears witness to many peoples’ admiration, not just for the church but for the way it and the surroundings are kept. We get many visitors, including a large number on a pilgrimage from the Antipodes, who have been to the ANZAC site and who comment favourably and movingly. Maintenance of our churchyards is supported locally by our Parish Council and internationally by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
We look forward to seeing, meeting and welcoming you. Meanwhile, a video tour kindly provided by a well-wisher is above and still photographs are below this introductory piece.
Address and Contact Information
St Mary's Church
Deputy Warden: Bridget Lorimer 01985 850201
Deputy Warden: David Shaw 01985 850372
Photographs of St Mary's, Codford (click an image for a slideshow of larger images)