Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Autumn leaves at Great Paxton

sept 28th autumn leaves

From John Keats’ poem, To Autumn, 1820:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

conker sept 28th 09

My cold  conkered by some fresh air in the churchyard at Great Paxton.

September 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A harvest prayer

There must be thousands of churches celebrating harvest around this time. We had two of our Benefice harvest services today – one at Great Paxton and one at Diddington.

I was really  sorry to have had a cold this week-end and felt it best to ask a colleague to take a village wedding on saturday – bit better today though feeling poorly   takes the edge off what you are doing and I certainly wasnt 100% on the ball. Little Paxton had their ” Back To Church” Sunday service ( their harvest is nextt sunday)  and it was good to see some new people join us for informal worship.

Here is a prayer I was going to pray at one of the harvest services but didnt quite remember – but I think it is rather lovely:

Please be gentle with yourself and others

We are all children of chance

And none can say why some fields blossom

while others lay brown under the harvest sun.

Take hope that your season will come.

Share the joys of those whose season is at hand.

Care for those around you.

Look past your differences.

Their dreams are no less than yours,

their choices in life no more easily made.

And give

Give in any way you can

Give in every way you can

Give from the heart.

( Anon 17th century sermon)


Everyone who has seen the new facilities at Diddington Church is very appreciative of the result. On Tuesday night at 6pm Bishop David Thomson, the Bishop of Huntingdon will be dedicating the completed work and this service, open to all, will be followed by a Question and Answer session starting c 7.30pm also at Diddington Church – an opportunity for people to ask him and Canon Alan Hargarve anything —- about life, faith and the universe. Again, anyone will be very welcome.

August 15th 09 - east window - trees outside and  stained glass flower

For more information about the Paxton Benefice Mission Week – do go to the splendid web-site :

Monday September 28th Great Paxton Church will be open during the day if anyone wants to see how the work is progressing.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Thanks from paxtonvic

Hello blog readers – just to say thank you for logging on since May – paxtonvic has just turned 5,000 hits today.

Got a cold so am hiding away and hoping it will clear up soon. Someone said to me today the simple way to diagnose a cold from swine ‘flu:

If you see a £10.00 note on the front lawn you will run and catch it if you have a cold, but if you have ‘flu you wouldnt give a monkeys. Quite right too. Well, I think im up for chasing  £10.00 notes – but I cant see any at the moment.

Want to find out more about that Staffordshire Angl0-Saxon Hoard – sounds fascinating.


Anglo-Saxon gold hoard is the biggest – and could get bigger



This hoard will change lives. Terry Herbert, the finder, and the anonymous landowner will be well compensated: by how much no one knows, but such is the scale of the treasure that when the valuation committee meets, it will have to consider the depressive effect of unleashing on to the market a record quantity of supreme gold artistry. The farmer who not long ago sold the field to its present owner might lose a few nights’ sleep, too.

But what does it mean for the rest of us? How exceptional is the Staffordshire hoard? And how will it change the way we think about our past, about Anglo-Saxon kingship, war, art and the origins of England?

Without question this is the largest group of gold artefacts ever found in British soil. Many of the pieces are of the highest quality design and technique, from a time that excelled in the creation of fine jewellery and weaponry. There really is nothing like it, but it reminds me of a prehistoric find made near Salisbury in the 1980s.

Here, too, archaeologists were staggered by the sheer scale: there were more than 500 bronze items, including curious miniature shields. But that hoard was illegally excavated and sold, and we will never fully understand it. By contrast, thanks to Herbert’s professional skills and attitude, we know everything we could about the Staffordshire gold’s context. That adds immensely to its academic value.

We don’t yet know how big it is. The present list runs to 1,345 objects, including 56 lumps of earth. X-rays show them to be studded with pieces of metal. You can make out tiny decorative animals and jewel settings, but until the lumps are taken apart we will not know what’s there. In other words, archaeologists have the prospect of themselves being able to excavate part of the country’s most spectacular ancient hoard.

As for what it means, at this stage no one knows (a career’s battle spoil from a king’s hall, perhaps?). It represents that cultural maelstrom between the departure of the Romans and the formation of England: think iconic kings like Penda and Aethelbald, carving out Mercia as it becomes one of the most powerful kingdoms in Britain.

Leslie Webster, a former British Museum curator and specialist in Anglo-Saxon culture, saw the treasure last week. “It will make historians, literary scholars, archaeologists and art historians,” she says, “think again about rising (and failing) kingdoms, the transition from paganism to Christianity, the conduct of battle and the nature of fine metalwork – to name only a few of the many huge issues it raises.” And, she adds wistfully, perhaps we’ll all realise “that Anglo-Saxons are different from Vikings – and so much more interesting”.

For now, the discovery is a black hole into which everything we thought we knew about the era, along with the Lindisfarne gospels, the Sutton Hoo treasures and – to take but one small example – a sword handle for which the British Museum paid £125,000 two years ago (there are 310 sword parts in the new hoard), has been swept into disarray. On seeing the find, normally restrained academics immediately began to compare it to Sutton Hoo. And, almost as soon, the process was reversed: “How will this change the way we think about the ship burials?”

Delicate ornament, stunning craftsmanship and gold were like Kalashnikovs in the battle for land and loyalty. Now, 1,300 years on, they command our intellect and our awe. “It’s going to shake up all our ideas,” says Webster. “And what fun that will be!” The Mercian flag is on the march.


Gold strip with biblical inscription


Gold hilt fitting with inlaid garnets


Folded cross – how amazing is that!!

Thanks for the photos from Guardian online

September 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Free cash

free cash

A little bit misleading – seen in St Neots

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New beginnings in ministry at Ely Cathedral

It was a privilege to be present last Sunday at Ely Cathedral  for the commissioning of 67 new authorised lay ministers in the Diocese of Ely.

Amongst them was  Nick  Gellatly from Little Paxton.

Having moved to Little Paxton five years ago from an active Perth  church, Nick Gellatly was  authorised by the Bishop of Huntingdon (the Rt Rev David Thomson) in a packed cathedral. Nick and the other ALM candidates were joined by 59 other lay people who were being re-authorised for varied supportive ministries.   Nick had completed a year’s training on Leading Worship in the Diocese’s  Accredited Lay Ministry programme.

What can a ALM do? Well, as mentioned above, 67 men and women were made ALMs and each will have studied a particular speciality – whether Music Ministers, Pastoral Assistants, Social Awareness Ministers, Youth Ministers, Children’s Ministers or Lay Pioneer Ministers. There was also training for people who are Parish Administrators. Nick decided to focus on worship leading, and now he can lead the ministry of the word at the Eucharist, take morning and evening prayer services and lead family worship.  We look forward to enjoying many years of ministry with him in our Benefice.

Nick outside cathedral

Nick with Benefice freinds outside Ely Cathedral

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Updated Swine ‘Flu guidance – September 21st from Ely Diocese

Well, the problem hasnt gone away of course though as reported in Church Times over recent weeks, many churches are considering returning to normal practice if they ever did withold the chalice in the first place.

The Diocese of Ely has issued updated advice today and I will post it here as I still seem to get many hits on the site from people searching for info on the subject:

Update from Rev Michael Goater on Swine Flu precautions.

You will perhaps have seen reports in the Church press that the Archbishops may ‘soften’ their advice about the suspension of the chalice at the Eucharist, and that a number of dioceses have reverted to the practice of communion in both kinds, given that the advance of the infection has slowed over the summer.

However, in keeping with the advice from the majority of dioceses in the country, as endorsed by the House of Bishops, Bishop Anthony recommends that we maintain the precautionary measures generously and thoughtfully put into place by so many parishes earlier in the year and do not relax our vigilance.

The following further statement has been received from the Archbishops, which Bishop Anthony commends to us.

Please note the Archbishops’ point that their advice of July this year that the chalice should be suspended has not changed, and that responsible practice in this area is not primarily about protecting ourselves, but about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others.   This has been the thrust of Bishop Anthony’s advice to us in recent months, and it remains his considered counsel.

For your information, the situation across the diocese at 18 September 2009 is that the number of suspected H1N1 cases has risen in the past two weeks, but this does not necessarily mean the start yet of a second wave of the virus.  There are currently 10 people in hospitals in the East of England with an H1N1 related condition, but none of these is in critical care.  There have been four deaths of East of England residents relating to swine flu.   Though the county’s antiviral centres have closed for the time being, with drugs presently being issued from pharmacies, the county and regional monitoring groups continue to meet regularly, and the situation is under daily review.

Statement from the Archbishops 16.9.09


At the end of July the Department of Health advised us that the pandemic had reached the stage at which ‘it makes good sense to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink.’

In the light of this we felt it would be irresponsible not to alert parishes and dioceses to this advice, and to recommend the suspension of the administration of the chalice while the Department of Health information and advice remained as it was. To date the advice we have been given has not changed.

Of course national advice given by Archbishops is just that – advice – as indeed is any separate advice that Bishops may decide to give to parishes.

Judgments about the best course of action in particular contexts may vary, but it remains important

a)         to encourage everyone to recognise that the Church has a responsibility to take public health considerations seriously, and

b)         to ensure that communication around the Church is good so that we don’t appear to be at sixes and sevens, and

c)         to remember that responsible practice in this area is not primarily about protecting ourselves, but about avoiding transmitting infection unwittingly to others.

We are keeping regular contact nationally with the Department of Health and all relevant information and advice will be passed on.

We have decided to review our own advice towards the end of October, in the light of the information, statistics, and guidance coming by then from the Department of Health. By that time the progress of the vaccination programme and the effects of schools and universities having started back will be assessed.

If at that stage the perceived risk is significantly lower than when we issued our advice at the end of July, then fresh guidelines will be given. We would urge patience and vigilance until we have reached that point.

+ Rowan Cantuar                                          + Sentamu Ebor:

Michael Goater

Bishop’s Adviser for Emergency Planning


September 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A chaplain in Afghanistan

Recently I have had occasion to talk with two mothers, both of which have had sons serving out in Afghanistan but how have now returned home after several tours. Their relief understandably is great.  I have huge admiration for the men and women serving out in that country, indeed anywhere where they operate in a dangerous environment.

In the Church Time of 4th September the back page carried an interview with Rev Anthony Feltham-White who serves as a team of chaplains for 19 Light Brigade in Helmand Province. Here are a few of the answers to the questions that were put to him  ( the format doesnt give the questions, but you can tell what they are from the answers)

“All chaplains are non-combatants. We do not carry weapons under any circumstances. That said, we try to accompany our soldiers wherever and whenever it is appropriate to do so. My unit always tell me when it is too dangerous for me, and thats important as, becuase I am unarmed, somebody always has to watch over me which can be a great burden for the soldier doing the job”.

” I’m not sure I cope. A six-month tour uses all my reserves of everything. I immediately think of  “footprints in the sand” as I feel the arms of God carrying me every step of the way. Being among and ministering to the young men and women in our armed forces is a remarkable privilege and extraordinarily fulfilling, but on operations it is a roller coaster ride. I’m on my knees at the end – but perhaps thats the best place to be”

“On a recent trip out, I was delighted to talk with a whole host of Afghan children. It was their school holiday and they eagerly danced about in the hope of some chocolate. It was heartening to watch them play and jump in and out of the river. A country where children play must surely have a future.”

” I have found the scale of our losses both dead and injured frightening. It is not just the victims, but their families and friends: the effects ripple out much further than we imagine.”

” I am constantly amazed and humbled by the extraordinary courage and commitment shown by our soldiers in this most hostile of environments.”

“Our services and Bible studies are always well attended, but what impresses me are the myriad conversations I have with soldiers in the most extraordinary places”

” Most of my battalion wear a cross on their dog-tags, and are constantly asking me to pray for them and with them; some are veen baptised with our here. There is an old expression that there is no such thing as an atheist ina  foxhole. In many ways that still holds true.”

” My favourite part of the bible is the Sermon on The Mount”. It’s all there in those three chapters in Matthew. If only we all took to heart what Jesus is explaining, then our soldiers would not have to be fighting and dying in this place”.

” In this sort of place I pray all the time. I pray for my family, I pray for my colleagues, I pray for all victims of this conflict, I pray for the miracle of peace in this place”.

Next time paxtonvic has a moan about having too much to do….. I shall remeber the courage of chaplains like Rev Feltham -White and get things into perspective


September 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Day off – so a chance to visit… another church- this time at Colmworth

A few weeks ago members of the Colmworth Local History Group visited both Little Paxton Church and Great Paxton Church – they were a most friendly and appreciative group. Colmworth is a 20 minute drive from St Neots and in St Albans Diocese.

So, responding to an invitation from one of the group to visit Colmworth Church, I sallied forth on my day off, armed with camera and really enjoyed myself under church member Thelma’s expert guidance. She has  written along with local school children a most excellent guide which I shall  enjoy as bed time reading.Thelma is an artist and her guide is full of her illustrations and expert knowledge.

The church at Colmworth is dedicated to St Denys, the patron saint of France which is quite unusual dedication:

st denys

His motto is:

The distance does not matter, it is the first step that counts”

The legend has it that he was the first Bishop of Paris who was martyred by  having his head chopped off and subsequently walked a league carrying his head. Thelma designed  the banner above which shows him setting out, unphased by his misfortune!

view from gallery taking in rood steps sept 20th

A view of the nave from the gallery, showing the entrance to the former rood loft.

Below are the steps – Im fascinated by rood loft steps – think of all the people who trod those tightly winding steps up to the rood – maybe the village musicians who played from the loft?

stairs to rood loft

Up in the gallery I had a good view of the Royal Coats of Arms dated 1830 – love the Lion’s (is it a lion?) face. Reminds me a bit of Bruce Forsyth…

royall arms sept 20th 09

In 1986 major work was done on re-ordering the nave following  the find of serious death watch beetle in the main purlins on the south east corner of the chancel. The beetle had reached pewing and the pew platforms and dry rot was also found. So, major work was set in hand, including  building a new balcony using  wood from the old pews. A toilet and kitchen area also was constructed ( well done, Colmworth!) .

Before commecning work, an archeological ” dig” was carried out which proved that an earlier church existed on the site as far back as 1187. A burial was found of a woman aged about 45 years in the west doorway – and she may have been a lady with French origins – possibly leading to the St Denys link.

The present church dates to the early 15th century  and was built  between 1426 and 1429 – in an incredible 4 years by Sir Gerard Braybrook – an old and honoured knight. He was pious and a generous benefactor to the canons at Bushmead Priory nearby.  It is built in the perepndicular style .

Above the south porch doorway is a blocked up arch – obviosuly intended as the entrance to a room for a priest – but never built. Sir Gerard died just before the church was finished – maybe then money ran out.

blocked arh doorway over porch sept 20th 09

One of the most noteworthy features of the church is the huge  monument of alabaster and black marble to the Dyer family- on the north wall by the altar.

It was erected by lady Catherine Dyer in 1641 for her husband. She wrote a poem on the death of her husband Sir William and it is the first poetry written by a woman to be recorded in this country:

My Dearest Dust

by Lady Catherine Dyer

My dearest dust, could not thy hasty day
Afford thy drowzy patience leave to stay
One hower longer: so that we might either
Sate up, or gone to bedd together?
But since thy finisht labor hath possest
Thy weary limbs with early rest,
Enjoy it sweetly: and thy widdowe bride
Shall soone repose her by thy slumbring side.
Whose business, now, is only to prepare
My nightly dress, and call to prayre:
Mine eyes wax heavy and ye day growes old.
The dew falls thick, my beloved growes cold.
Draw, draw ye closed curtaynes: and make room:
My dear, my dearest dust; I come, I come.
full view of dyer monument sept 20th 09
A visit is well worth while to enjoy the ceremonial armour of the time and clothing. Sir William has scallop shell emblems on his uniform:
Mr Dyer sept 20th 09
Mrs Dyer sept 20th 09
Mrs Dyer with her neatly laced bodice.
Fianlly, Dyer female siblings:

dyer monument - three daughters sept 20th 09

As well as the girls represented, there are four sons- two dressed as roundheads and two as Royalists – maybe explaining why the daughters all hold large handkerchiefs  and appear to be weeping – over the split in the family? During the civil war, most families were Royalist in the village.

After Cromwell, the church fell into a state of decay.

Jacobean chest sept 20th 09

The Jacobean altar – too small for purpose now.

And finally, outside in the churchyard stands a  wooden  cross in memory of a former vicar’s housekeeper who turned up on his doorstep a vagrant. He had compassion on her and she became a longstanding  servant in his household.

wooden cross of vagrant woman

And deserving a whole  blog devoted to himself  is a former Vicar of Colmworth – Rev Timothy Matthews who died in 1845. Influenced by Charles Simeon at Kings College in Cambridge, he was appointed to the curacies of Colmworth and Bolnhurst. He married a beuatiful lady called Ann Fielding but it was her mother who greatly infleunced him – she persuaded Timothy to adopt the Wesley practice of holding prayer and Class meetings at Colmworth Rectory at 7pm in the evening.

Timothy was  avery tall man, an imposing figure, but he was troubled, constantly searching for God’s will. He had a conversion experience in church one day and ” there fell as it were from his eyes scales of darkness and doubt” . It is said he became a new man – and he felt it was his duty to minister not just to his own people but to ” sinners perishing in the neglected parishes around him”  Henceforth, this large character was to be found preaching around the countryside of Bedford. At the Zion chapel in Ravensden is preserved his bugle – many of his sermons and letters are recorded. He became Chaplain to the House of Industry in Bedford.

Well, a church full of history and well worth a visit.

outside of church

And now, off to see Henry the 8th discover that he doesnt like his latest wife, Ann of Cleaves, one little bit…..

September 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A work of Art

sept 15th manhole back drop with ladder

Now, im sure many would not agree that this is a work of art, but I rather think it is. As you all know(?)  it is a back drop manhole cover and this one has just been c0mpleted by the contractors at Great Paxton Church in the churchyard. Its a round deep chamber, fed by pipework  which takes the waste away from the church and out into the sewage  connection in Church Lane.

It is beautifully constructed with a lot of care and if in future there are any blockages, it can easily be entered and rodded to solve the problem. Clever.

sept 15th with glenn and poorly concrete mmixture

All was going very well at GP yesterday with the Living Water Project until the concrete mixer gave up and no amount of washing up liquid could solve the problem. Glenn asked for prayers for the machine, but Im afraid they didnt do any good either….

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

” A Feather on the Breath of God” Hildegaard of Bingen.

Of  all the little homilies I have done over the years for saints days I am rather fond of this one about Hildegaard of Bingen. I can’t rememeber the sources that I used but towards the end there is a quote from one of her writings using the imagery of a feather – it is  beautiful

September 17th.

Hildegard of  Bingen


1 Corinthians 2 v 9-13

Luke 10 v 21-24.

Our saint today Hildegard of Bingen who lived from 1098 to 1179 and was a truly remarkable woman of her day.

She lived at a time when few women wrote anything of any kind : but Hildegard known as the Sybil of the Rhine – in Germany- produced major works of theology and visionary writings. At a time when few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by popes, bishops and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing and wrote treatises on natural history and the use of plants for healing.

She was a famous musical composer and founded a convent where her musical plays were performed. In recent years, her visions and music has been hi-jacked by the New Age Movement whose music bears resemblance to her ethereal airs, but that apart, her story is important to all students of medieval history.  Her life tells of an irresistible spirit overcoming social, physical and gender barriers to achieve great things in the service of Christ.

Hildegard was born the tenth child of a noble family in Germany – and being the 10th child was tithed to the church – given as a gift from birth. She had visions from an early age.

When only 8 years old, she went to live with an anchoress called Jutta. You may remember that Julian of Norwich was an anchoress – someone who lived apart from the world in a cell and undertook a life of prayer and spiritual direction. Hildegard and a dozen or so other girls lived nearly to Jutta’s cell and received education from her.

Nearby was a Benedictine monastery from which the young girl developed a love of church music and she began to write her own. When Hildegard was 38 years old, she became head of a convent which sprung up near to the monastery.

Throughout these years of spiritual development  Hildegard’s visions continued – some very powerful and when she was 43 years old she had a vision which changed the course of her life. She felt that God was giving her the meaning of many religious texts and that he commanded her to write down everything she observed in her visions.

Hildegard, however, lacked a great deal of confidence and hesitated to write anything at all – until encouraged by St Bernard and the pope of the time- she began to write down her visionary experiences and her fame spread throughout Germany.

When she was 52 years old, she moved her convent to Bingen on the banks of the River Rhine and her remaining years were hugely productive – writing music, texts to her songs and major works describing her visions. She described music as the means of recapturing the original joy and beauty of paradise. She wrote in the plainchant tradition of a single vocal melodic line, a tradition common in liturgical singing of her time.

Her theology centred on her belief that man was the peak of God’s creation and everything was put into the world for man to steward wisely. She wrote widely about the curative effects of plants and her writings which gave a positive slant to sexual relations were unique for her time.

What strikes me above all about Hildegard was that she suffered greatly from migraine headaches. Many of the symptoms that she described as accompanying her visions are suggestive of this illness.

It is a tribute to the remarkable spirit and the intellectual powers of this woman that she was able to turn a debilitating illness into the Word of God and produce such creativity in his service.

“Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around Him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honour. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.”


O God, by whose grace thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the Fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Hildegaard Tree

“Like billowing clouds, Like the incessant gurgle of the brook

The longing of the spirit can never be stilled.”

– Hildegard von Bingen

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments