Category Archives: News

Midnight Mass – the most symbolic service of the season!

Midnight Mass is one of the richest and most meaningful services of the year. As Christmas Eve turns into Christmas day we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and join around the Holy Altar.

Midnight Mass is the richest and most symbolic service of the season. It is devotional, mystical and communal. Everyone is welcome to God’s Holy Altar where we share and receive God’s mysterious and precious gifts of bread and wine, becoming for us Christ’s body and blood – uniting us and binding us together in the Christian narrative of love and service.

Bring the whole family. It is an experience that children and adults will cherish and will remain with them throughout the year. It will give Christmas day depth and meaning beyond anything you’ve experienced since a child.

Sunday 24th December at 11pm, Geddington Church

Announcement – Fr Rob Parker-McGee is to leave in February.

Fr Rob has been invited to become, and accepted the post of, Vicar of All Saints’, Orpington in the London Borough of Bromley and Diocese of Rochester.

Fr Rob Says “I feel very privileged and humbled to have been asked to take on this larger post. It has many opportunities for ministry and the family and I are looking forward to this new challenge. It is however with sadness that we leave Geddington and Weekley. Sarah, Jasmine, Thomas and I have grown very fond of these villages and especially the people who live here. We have made many, many friends. Even though there was some really tough work to do when we first arrived, having addressed much of that we have seen our churches move into new eras of vibrancy, growth and expectancy. Thank you to all who have supported God’s work in this place, which has resulted in our churches becoming more visible, open and welcoming to our villages, whilst growing depth and richness in our worship and spirituality.

The next period will be different, but no less exciting. Keep the faith and hold your nerve, and God will build richly upon all the foundations we have laid together. But before then, we have a rich and full Advent and Christmas season to journey through together – let’s make it the best one yet!”

Many of us will be very sad to see Rob, Sarah, Jasmine and Thomas leave but we wish them every success in the future.

Fr Rob’s last Sunday here will be 4th February 2018 and his Licensing and Induction at All Saints’, Orpington will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday 28th February 2018. You are all most warmly invited along.

What is church like? Much more than worship!!!

Much more than worship

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Most people encounter church through our worship – the services that we offer each week. This is sometimes referred to as the liturgy. engaging in the Church’s liturgy is one of the most important elements of the Christian life, because it is when individuals come together into community in order to encounter Jesus through the tradition and teachings of the Church, to think about Christ’s goodness and how it calls us to change so that we may live more in tune with that goodness. The church in Geddington has been meeting in this way for over a thousand years. Today we continue to build on that tradition.

We continue to operate an open catholic style of worship that is ecumenically inviting and engaging to all ages. In our congregation we have many people who are new to Church and love the richness of the services, as well as many who have joined us from Catholic, Methodist and Baptist churches. We continue the tradition where incense is used four times a year in the main service to help us heighten our spiritual focus on the really important festivals of the local church; these are Midnight Mass (Christmas Eve), The Easter Vigil (Easter Eve), the Feast of St Mary Magdalene and the Requiem Mass to commemorate the Death of Eleanor of Castile (6th Dec by Royal Edict). The rest of the time what we do is ordered and recognisably church, whilst being gentle, inviting, informative and engaging.

Each week, we come together to give thanks to God for his many blessings – even life itself – and offer our lives in his service. A person cannot encounter Jesus properly on their own, else we simply manipulate him into something that is comfortable and easy to us – in other words, we make him in our own image. Christ comforts, but he also challenges. We need to be with others to hear that challenge. So Christians attend church regularly, even if it feels inconvenient or challenges our priorities. Being a Christian calls us to place church high up our agenda.

Being a Christian is not always easy – it is a life-long journey. But it is in perseverance that we move closer to God and overtime become more aware of him guiding us, walking alongside us, and ultimately bringing us into his risen and eternal life.

But our life together involves far more than just liturgy and worship. There are numerous other occasions when you might cross the Church’s path: the daily morning cafe, coffee mornings, Noah’s Ark toddler group, care in the community, being visited by a church member, fêtes, events, youth and children’s work, study and fellowship groups, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals and many other situations. Just to hear a kind word or to receive an act of kindness is to receive a blessing from God as he passes his goodness down through his people, the Church.

Why not take a look at some of our church videos of people who have been unsure about church, but whose experiences with us have then been considered a real blessing… to us at least!

The Annual Queen Eleanor Requiem Mass

The Annual Queen Eleanor Requiem Mass. Sunday 3rd December, 9.45am.

Geddington is the only Parish Church in the country to continue to celebrate the Requiem Mass and say prayers for Queen Eleanor’s soul, even after the Reformation when such practices fell out of favour. Join us and continue the tradition!

Over the Bridge – Concert – 26th November – Geddington

Over the Bridge – Presents – “From Dowland to Disco”

A concert to be given in St Mary Magdalene Church, Geddington, Kettering NN14 1AH on Sunday 26 November at 6.30pm

A programme of a cappella singing spanning 400 years of music from John Dowland to Daft Punk, including some music with an Advent theme!

Over The Bridge is an all-male close harmony group formed in Clare College, Cambridge.   All of the members of the group are past choral scholars of the internationally renowned Choir of Clare College, Cambridge.

Since the early 2000s Over the Bridge has been making a name for itself as an accomplished performer of a wide range of repertoire.   Over The Bridge is perhaps best known for its many and various arrangements of popular tunes, ranging from the likes of Earth Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder to Lady Gaga and Daft Punk, all with the signature Over the Bridge twist and flair. In addition to these, the group has a keen interest in early and Renaissance repertoire, with pieces by William Byrd, Jean Richafort, and Thomas Tallis all making appearances at this concert.

The concert will encapsulate all aspects of the Over The Bridge sound, and give you an experience you won’t soon forget!

Tickets £15.00         Concessions £12.50     Children  £5.00

Ticket prices include a glass of wine or a soft drink and nibbles during the interval. From rwwootton@talktalk.net  or phone 01536 746173

Not Hagius, but Geddington’s Unknown Priest

A Saxon Church at the Heart of our Village

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Saxon Arcading

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The Saxon Roof Structure embedded in the stonework of later Norman adaptations.

In a village as ancient as Geddington, there was most likely a church long before the visible stone Saxon portion. In the stonework, it is still possible to see the Saxon arcading on what was the original exterior wall as well as the slope of the original roof structure.

Bones from a grave were discovered while the floor was being repaired in 1990, and it is thought that these may have been from a local Saxon priest or monk who served this church dutifully over 1000 years ago, possibly even at the time of its construction. An alternative suggestion is that it is the grave of a very early Norman priest or significant person connected with the church.

If it is the remains of the latter, then one thought that some historians have ventured, that seems nothing more than supposition at this stage, is that this person may have had some kind of connection to Geddington’s Royal Hunting Lodge and served one of the significant Norman kings who will have resided there. A remarkable ornament of the church, which may or may not be connected, is the effigy of an unknown priest now located in the South Lady Chapel (although clearly moved from its original location).

An effigy to an Unknown Priest – hajius ecclesiae
capellanus (Chaplain of the Church)

The Shrine of the Unknown Priest - used as an ancient place of pilgrimage.

The Unknown Priest – an ancient place of pilgrimage?

This effigy has been the cause of much intrigue over the years. Although there have been many strange and wonderful theories and stories told of this remarkable 13th or 14th Century memorial, the truth is much closer to home. There is an illustration of this effigy drawn by P. Tillemans, which states that the sketch was undertaken whilst the effigy sat “Nr the N Aisle at ye upper end under the N Wall, taken 10 July 1719”. It therefore looks likely that this effigy has been relocated at some point in its history from the North to the South Isle. This could have been when the Maydwell Chapel was was removed in the late 18th Century or during a major restoration of the Chancel in 1857. Eitherway, it seems that during its move some of the stonework around the edges (and possibly its inscription) has been lost.

Nonetheless, what is clear is that it is an original ornament of the church and one of some historical significance. It also adorns some rather remarkable and unique features. It is for, instance, very rare for such an effigy to have a holy water stoup or font at its head, as this one appears to, adorned with a cherub. This was a suggestion that an academic first put forward a few years ago when examining the church. As far as we are aware, there are no other effigy’s of this sort still in existence in this country that have such a feature, which has led to some other academics to a counter argument as to whether this can actually be the case. But if this were, for instance, dating from the time of Edward 1st, given the flamboyance and spiritual fervour of the Eleanor Cross he had built in the centre of the village, the possibility of such a devotional addition to this priest’s effigy is certainly not to be dismissed so readily out of hand.

the recess of a holy water stoup? to the left ear of the priest’s head, adorned by a cherub.

A picture of a modern-day fiddleback chasuble

What is beyond doubt is the chalice, paten (for the bread) and Bible or Missal held lovingly in his hands. The figure can also be seen wearing a fiddleback chasuble (traditional early medieval priests’ wear – unlikely to be a shield as some have ventured). A letter in the Boughton archives dating from 1736 gives us some important insight into the validity of the effigy. Hagius ecclesiae capellanus (Hagius Church Chaplain – Hagius is also Greek for Saint) has proven to be a mis-transcription of the effigy’s original inscription, which should read Hajius ecclesiae capellanus (Chaplain to the Church). Most intriguing, however, is the letter’s claim that there was a common understanding amongst the local people of Geddington and surrounding areas that this priest died whilst celebrating the Eucharist. There is nothing beyond conjecture to contradict this story.

To die in such a way may have understandably been considered as a significant and saintly way to die (ask any living priest how they would choose to die and many would say that there could be no greater privilege than to die whilst celebrating the Eucharist). Regardless, it seems likely that this priest quickly became considered locally as a very holy and saintly individual after his death. There is, however, no suggestion that the wider church recognised him as a Saint. As far as we are aware, such a claim has never been made.  His title, Chaplain of the Church, simply suggests that he was appointed by the priory or local monastic house and served the church. He certainly seems to have been one of the earliest recorded priests of Geddington Church. It is likely that the effigy you see pictured here dates from late 13th or early 14th Century (Similar 14th Century effigies are in existence elsewhere).

If this effigy is not connected to the Saxon/early Norman burial mentioned above, then another possibility put forward by historians is that the priest this effigy commemorates may well have served one of the slightly later Plantagenet kings who resided in Geddington’s Royal Hunting Lodge. Could this, for instance, commemorate the priest who served Queen Eleanor and presided over her Requiem Mass following her death? The date of the effigy certainly seems to fit this period. Or could this priest have served King John whilst he stayed at Geddington during the period when he attempted to avoid civil war?

For the moment, and unless further evidence presents itself, this priest’s name is known only to God. There are many ways to interpret all this evidence. But he clearly served the parish, out in all weathers baptising sickly babies and taking the last rites to dying parishioners. His was the day-to-day heroism of a man committed to his Godly vocation. He said the prayers in church, even when there was no-one else to say them with him. This certainly contributed to him acquiring a certain reputation for sanctity following his death. Because of his ministry, and that of people like him down the centuries, the church is still a place where prayer has been valid and Geddington church remains a ‘Powerhouse of Prayer’ to the local communities.

In his effigy, this person’s priestly credentials are evidenced by the chalice, paten and Missal/Bible which are placed lovingly in his hands. His holy credentials evidenced by his long neck and tonsure – signs of holiness.

There are pieces of physical evidence that may suggest this was a place of pilgrimage and prayer at various points in the church’s history: As aforementioned, there appears to be what looks like a Holy Water Stoup/Font at the head, there is smooth wearing of the hands and face, which is more pronounced than elsewhere on the effigy (by pilgrims wanting to touch the saintly image of this holy man? – it may be weathering, but then why hasn’t the rest weathered in equal measure?), and there are pilgrims’ marks which can be seen on the outside of the building. Thus, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the site was used as a place of pilgrimage and maybe even a shrine during the Medieval period and/or later revived in the Victorian era. Given its royal associations, the church will most certainly have carried much attraction and local acclaim to visitors with a religious interest, who will have undoubtedly made their way here to pay a visit and pray. Given the rumours of the nature of his death, locals may well have began to recognise this priest for his healing and protective credentials. I wonder if that still carries weight today?

On the outside of the building there is evidence of pilgrims’ markings.
Here we can see sundial markings. The hole in the centre is designed to put a finger in so that a pilgrim might know what time it was.

Here we can see clear pilgrims’ crosses.

You are warmly invited to continue to visit this holy place at anytime and pray at the site of Geddington’s unknown priest.

 

 

 We are thankful to Prof Madeleine Gray for providing some factual features for this article. This section, will necessarily be subject to update as more information becomes known.