St Mary’s Church Open Weekend and Forncett Great War Project

Written by May Prior and Jackie Lanaway. on .


Photos Richard Ball
(click pic for slideshow)

The weekend event of 4th and 5th July was a great success. Visitors were arriving as soon as it opened and did not drift away until after 4pm on both days, an hour after it was scheduled to finish! There was much interest shown in the transformation of St Mary’s church especially from older residents who had known and regularly attended services before closure. One family had particularly fond memories because their parents were married here; the last wedding before closure. May and Graham Prior were in the church to explain renovation work to visitors and were happy that the work was finished in time for their daughter’s wedding a few weeks earlier.

There is a new Colenso exhibition on show together with a bust of the man. John Colenso was a rector of St Mary’s in 1846 before becoming Bishop of Natal (now South Africa) in 1853. This exhibition was curated by John Webster and the bust is on permanent loan to the church.


Photos Richard Ball, except
where captioned otherwise.
(click pic for slideshow)
 

A lot of interest was also shown in the amount of WW1 memorabilia exhibited on behalf of Forncett History Group’s Great War Project, and Graham was also on hand all weekend to talk to people about them, together with Mike and Bill, two friends, one from the Western Front Association and all enthusiasts. Members of the History Group were also there.

The Timeline has been extended to June 1915 and is now permanently on show here. Work is in progress to complete the year 1915. Also on show were the Book of Remembrance and a DVD of photographs of the men named on Forncett’s war memorials. The highlight of Sunday was Nigel Amies’ appearance as a WW1 infantryman complete with authentic uniform, genuine WW1 drum and various artefacts. As well as demonstrating the equipment such a soldier needed to survive, people were able to handle and even wear objects. Nigel showed he had a very good singing voice and was an excellent drummer and communicator.

Many thanks go to all who lent exhibits, helped with the organisation, and made tea and excellent cakes, all ensuring this was a very successful weekend. We estimate about 200 people attended over the two days.