Welcome to our website. Whether you want Weddings or Word from Wormingford, to find out about or services or to take a tour of our Churches, we hope you enjoy touring our website - and we look forward to meeting you in person.

RichardB on September 19th, 2014

BENEFICE BULLETIN – Sunday 21 September 2014 (St. Matthew)

Services for Sunday 21 September 2014

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), #1662 service

09:15 Pets Service  MB

11:00 Pets Service  WF

11:00 Morning Service  LH

18:30 Evening Service & Communion  LH

Services for Next Week (28 September)

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), # 1662 service

08:00 Holy Communion  # WF

09:15 Family Communion  MB

11:00 Parish Communion  LH

11:00 Morning Service  WF

18:30 Evening Service  LH

Your coming in and going out

The Lord is gracious and compassionate

Slow to anger and rich in love

(Psalm 145)


Readings for Sunday 21 September

Genesis 8-9,15,19-20 (WF & MB)

1 Kings 19:15-end  &  2 Timothy 3:14-end (LH 11:00)

2 Corinthians 4:1-6  &  Matthew 9:9-13 (LH 18:30)

Please pray for

The healing of Nick Eden, Tony Clements, Dianne Gant, Hugh Houston & Hector Barr.

Unity in our country and reconciliation amongst the people of Scotland.

The soul of aid worker David Haines, and for all those selflessly serving others in places of conflict and danger.

Concert – Little Horkesley

There will be a concert at Little Horkesley Church on 18 October by members of the Trianon Music Group. This will include the first performance of a piece of music set to a poem by Ronnie Blythe. Tickets are £10 each and include light refreshments. Please contact Brenda (01206 271019) or Meriel (01206 855523) or add your name to the list in Church.

Friends of St. Andrew’s Wormingford

Thank you to all who supported last weekend’s Art Exhibition. The next event will be on 10 October at 7 p.m. when Wormingford Village Hall will host a Film Evening showing ‘Constable Observed (Ronnie Blythe 1970)’. Please support the Friends of St. Andrew’s, so that they can support the Church!


Three Churches Discovery Walk

Thank you to all who walked yesterday and to those who helped make it such a success. A great day was had by all!

RichardB on September 19th, 2014

As in his youth, Ronald Blythe is thrilled by seeing the sea


“THE sea! The sea!” we shouted when the land ran ran out and the blue wall of water rose ahead. At Aldeburgh, the church-builders framed it in Gothic stone. Even today, when everyone goes everywhere, this sudden proclamation by the sea itself of its existence remains thrilling. To us Suffolk inlanders, it remains heart-stopping.

Those who live by it never take it for granted. The fishermen, lifeboatmen, and sailors generally eye it warily. Victorian photographs in the sailors’ shelter reveal ravaged faces of boys and men as though waves and winds beat against them with the same indifference as they would a breakwater.

The gulls scream, and Ian plunges in, the only one of us who has an arrangement with it, a dark head, a white arm, a distant cry.

I pick up stones. The church tower comes and goes between the houses. A matching whiteness of form and architecture, birds and boats, is everywhere. Time slips away, and I am the youthful writer slipping and sliding in the shingle of decades ago, deafened by the monotonous rise and fall of the elements. Yet, at the same time, stimulated by their power.

There is Benjamin Britten’s house. Sea-trained by his Lowestoft origins, he would have found the interior silences of my native scene sterile, maybe. No thud and crash of water, no pitiless distances, and an absence of drama. No glitter to life. What was somtimes wearying to me was reviving to him. George Crabbe, the great realist poet, heard the Aldeburgh sea calling to him wherever he went. He would make long journeys to it, just to breathe it in. His snowy bust looks up at Britten’s memorial window in Aldeburgh church, and away from congregations.

The Revd George Crabbe was given a hard time when he re- turned to Aldeburgh as a curate. But the mighty sea solaced him, and while he could be said to have taken his revenge in The Borough, an exposé of a poem if ever there was one, in his head the sea put all human behaviour in its place. And so here it is once more, diminishing, yet somehow praising us mortals.

There are no oceans in the King James Bible, only seas, and these abundantly. Awe accompanies the many references to them. It was St Paul who used the word “peril” in relation to them. Most scriptural references show humanity acknowledging the sea’s supremacy. Those who wrote them would not have heard of the Pacific or the Atlantic. They would have seen them as roads, and the Gospels have a marine flavour to them.

St Paul’s journey to Rome, in Acts, is one of the world’s best-written sea voyages, with its mixture of sailors’ superstition, religious trust, and economics. Nelson would have found it quite an ordinary account of what is likely to happen when you board ship. Jesus’s eyes – his inner and his outer vision – were sharpened by Galilee, that inland fishing-ground and faith-carrying sea from whose shores he gathered his disciples. “And did those feet . . .”

Matthew Arnold, in DoverBeach, the greatest of all shoreline poems, writes of the ebbing of the sea of faith. “Listen! You hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease. . .”

In Cornwall, I used to be entranced by the mesmeric sea, but less so in Suffolk, where coastal history not so much tamed it as made it practical. Every now and then, like Crabbe, or Maggi Hambling, I visit it, and am transfixed by its immensity.

RichardB on September 12th, 2014

Ronald Blythe reflects on the pleasure of being caught in the rain


SUMMER rain – warm, drenching. It catches me up before I can get to the house, a familiar sensation since boyhood, briefly a plight, then a pleasure. The rain it raineth every day, but only a little. Not like today, when it is as continuous as Portia’s mercy. It pours through a break in the guttering, it streams through the oaks, it makes an extra river in the farm track.

Thomas Hardy made it fall with a wounding splash on poor Tess’s new grave, as if what had happened to her wasn’t enough. And his field-women, soaked to the skin, cried “How it rained!” But, seeing it through the window, all I can do is to meditate on its soft, remorseless progress, watch the plants bend before it, and the valley itself receive it.

On Sunday, Paul calls himself the least of the apostles, because of what he had been. The past weighs heavily on him, especially his ignominious taking care of the coats of those who stoned Stephen.

Also, hundreds of Christ’s followers had witnessed him as the resurrected Lord, but Paul had not. He felt it as a deserved and indelible reproach. Yet by grace he was what he was, and not what he had been. He had toiled for Jesus more than all the others put together; so this grace was more than their grace. It validated his apostleship – it gave him the right to be what he was, and to say what he did. Not to mention the beauty of his expression.

Where did he learn to write? In that far from mean city, Tarsus? Or, as with many great writers – Shakespeare at Stratford grammar school, Keats at Enfield – had there been a minimal of “learning”?

There was, of course, the proud dual nationality, and the confidence which came from it. But how much of this would have come down to us had he not been locked up? Oratory then being a formal part of education, he would have lectured more than write letters. These bring us close to him. Those to the Romans, whether Jews or Gentiles, are tenderly inclusive. Those to all the other churches recognise their particular countries, but without description; for being one in Christ, not in nations, is the true unity of men.

On Sunday, I climb into Wormingford pulpit, and say what I must have said before, but it cannot be helped. And the dear neighbours sit where they have sat for years. And the medieval arches soar overhead, and St Alban, in his Roman tunic and sandals, looks across the red altar.

And Christopher plays his introit. And one candle wavers, and the other doesn’t. And we sing “Morning has broken like the first morning,” and I remember Eleanor Farjeon, who died in 1965, which is yesterday in Anglican terms.

Coming home, walking through the orchard, the Victoria plums touch my head. And the sculptor Jon Edgar writes to ask if I think that his clay bust of me should be turned into bronze.

I look at myself from previously impossible angles, and myself looks back at me. I have irises, not the blind gaze of classical heads – although they were not blind to begin with, the painted eyes have faded, then gone. Lashes, too. Now this marble stare. This seeing nothing and this open-to-everything look. Did anyone think of repainting the pupils of ancient statuary? What a sensation!

Pupil, the dark aperture at the centre of the iris through which light enters. The impatience of Jesus. “A little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light.”

RichardB on September 11th, 2014

Services for Sunday 14 September 2014

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), #1662 service

08:00 Holy Communion WF #

09:15 Parish Communion  MB

11:00 Family Service  LH

11:00 Morning Service  WF

18:30 Evening Service  LH

Services for Next Week (21 September)

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), # 1662 service

09:15 Pets Service  MB

11:00 Pets Service  WF

11:00 Morning Service  LH

18:30 Evening Service & Communion  LH

Your coming in and going out

For God so loved the World that he gave his only son

So that anyone who believes in him shall not perish

But have eternal life.

(John 3:13-17)


Readings for Sunday 14 September

Philippians 2:6-11  &  John 3:13-17 (WF 8:00, MB & LH 18:30)

Genesis 3:1-15  &  John 12:27-36a (WF 11:00)

Please pray for

The healing of Nick Eden, Tony Clements, Dianne Gant, Hugh Houston & Hector Barr.

 Bishop Roger installed as Bishop of Colchester last Sunday, and Tony Bushell installed as vicar of our neighbours St. Albright’s, Stanway last Wednesday.

 The people of Scotland as they vote for the future direction of their nation and of the United Kingdom.

Art Exhibition – Friends of St. Andrew’s Wormingford

Don’t forget: The annual Art Exhibition at St. Andrew’s church takes place this weekend, 12-14 September. All welcome – please support the Friends, so that they can support the Church!


Three Churches Discovery Walk

Don’t forget, the walk takes place next Saturday 20 September. Please register at threechurcheswalk@yahoo.co.uk or 07747 623172. Meet at ‘The Thatchers’, Mount Bures at 09:30 a.m. for bacon butties and a 10:00 a.m. start.

Pet Service

On 21 September Mount Bures (09:15 a.m.) and Wormingford (11:00 a.m.) will be hosting family Pet Services. Bring your pet for a special blessing, and thank God for our pets and all creation.


Ride & Stride

Thank you to all those who took part or manned the churches on 13 September for the annual Ride & Stride.

Services for Sunday 7 September 2014

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), #1662 service

08:00 Holy Communion LH #

09:15 Family Communion  MB

11:00 Family Communion  WF

11:00 Morning Service  LH #

18:30 Evening Service LH #

Services for Next Week (14 September)

Mount Bures (MB), Wormingford (WF), Little Horkesley (LH), # 1662 service

08:00 Holy Communion WF #

09:15 Parish Communion  MB

11:00 Family Service  LH

11:00 Morning Service  WF

18:30 Evening Service  LH

Your coming in and going out

Where two or three come together in my name

There am I with them

(Matthew 18:15-20)


Readings for Sunday 7 September

Romans 13:8-end  &  Matthew 18:15-20 (LH 8:00, MB & WF)

Jonah 3:10-4:11  &  Revelation 8:1-5 (LH 11:00)

Ezekiel 33:7-11  &  Matthew 18:15-20 (LH 18:30)

Please pray for

The healing of Nick Eden, Tony Clements, Dianne Gant, Hugh Houston & Hector Barr.

The homeless, hungry and lonely of Colchester and our local towns, and all those who support them.

Those suffering and bereaved as a result of the growing list of wars and insurrections across the World, and for the World leaders as they strive to end conflict and restore peace.

Ride & Stride – 13 September

The annual sponsored Ride & Stride takes place on Saturday 13 September, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is an enjoyable way to support your local church and the Friends of Essex Churches charity (50% to each). Volunteers are required to ride, stride and man the churches to welcome visitors. For forms go to:


Art Exhibition – Friends of St. Andrew’s Wormingford

Don’t forget: The annual Art Exhibition at St. Andrew’s church takes place next weekend, 12-14 September. All welcome – please support the Friends, so that they can support the Church!


Three Churches Discovery Walk

The walk is now fast approaching on Saturday 20 September, and we are assured of large numbers of walkers. If you’re not planning to do the walk, there are many ways to help in the Churches; just ask!

RichardB on September 5th, 2014

“I think I’ll go for a walk.”

When do we hear that most? When we feel the need for exercise, or when we need a good think? Or after an argument?! There seems to be something in the human mind or body which encourages us to walk – to “blow away the cobwebs” that accumulate in our lives. Why a good walk makes us feel better, I can’t exactly say, but it does!

Let’s hope our Three Churches Discovery Walk on 20th September achieves many things, but mainly that we enjoy walking together.

I’ve been researching walking in the Bible – I let my fingers do the walking, so to speak – and found over 300 references. From the beginning, when God walked in the Garden (Genesis 3:8), to the end in Revelation 21:24, the prophecy that nations will walk by the light of the glory of God. In other words, people will be led by Him – which is the sense in which the word “walk” is often used. Jesus famously said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

How are you walking through life? In this modern world, we are more used to running! Whether we’re running a company or a club, it seems we’re always expected to “hit the ground running”, making progress at top speed. That’s me too – but when I went for a walk recently, just to meditate before writing this, it seemed obvious that there’s more to be gained and better decisions made when we’re walking rather than running. That short while was quality time with myself and with God. I was reminded of the episode after Jesus’ resurrection, when two disciples walked with Jesus towards the town of Emmaus. Looking back on the event, they said “Weren’t our hearts burning within us as he talked with us and opened the scripture to us?” (Matthew 28:32).

Whatever your walk of life, I pray that you will have the opportunity to reflect quietly on the important things, to be able to say that in every sense, you’re “getting somewhere”. See you on the 20th?

RichardB on September 5th, 2014

Ronald Blythe gives thanks for the summers he has enjoyed during his life

THE peerless August goes its way: day after day of sunshine, the garden heavy with scents, the churches, too. St Paul tells us “not to murmur”; the News tells us ghastly things. In his Diary, Francis Kilvert tells me what he did on an August day a century-and-a-half ago. He is the 32-year-old curate of Langley Burrell, Wiltshire – a strong, handsome young man who would die before he was 40, suddenly, from peritonitis. The floral arches for his wedding served for his funeral.

So how could I possibly murmur, given so many years, so many summers? In fact, having to go to London to talk after a literary lunch, I grew quite scolding, myself and the elderly audience having been awarded all these summers, and doing anything but sing the Benedicite.

But then there comes August weeding. Searching for something to complain about, we look at the towering plants that have taken over the flowerbeds. How have they usurped them without our seeing them before they were splendid in their own right, and too good for the chop?

I find myself apologising for them to visitors, the wicked balsam in particular. Then I find an enthusiastic note on it in the matchless Victorian Dictionary of Gardening, edited by none other than the Director of Kew, and I must quote it in order that anyone afflicted by the current abuse of certain specimens should find heart.

This is how our ancestors saw balsam: “It is one of the showiest of summer and autumn flowers, and well deserves a place in every garden. Although of comparatively easy cultivation, good blossoms . . . are far too rarely seen. A good Balsam flower should be quite as double asa perfect Camellia.”

Sitting among my balsam, their seeds peppering me, and the white cat sound asleep at their roots, I say to myself that August wouldn’t be August without them.

A different firing, that of August 1914, fills the commemorative radio programmes. To the young, the First World War must sound like the Crimea. But, in church, an old man listens to his great-uncles’ names being read aloud, and, shaking hands with him after the service, I am astonished and moved to see that his eyes are full of tears.

At dinner, we hazard guesses at which of our women deans – or, indeed, curates – might become women bishops. And what would Mrs Proudie have said? Or indeed Barbara Pym? It is fatal to take one of her novels out into the sun on a day like this. Nothing else will be done for hours. There should be a special place in the order of blessedness of those who take us into realms of delight via idleness, as reading is often called. “They tell me that lifeis the thing,” remarked a young American long ago, “but I prefer reading.”

There is a big chair in our departed village school, now closed down, where anyone is invited to just – read. Perhaps nothing in the history of mankind has produced so much happiness as reading. Ordered to bed when we were children, we would plead: “Oh, Mum, just this last chapter.”

Now and then I think – and not at all dismally – just to read this summer, because it seems enough. Faith brings its own philosophy. It structures time. At this minute, two men are abseiling across the face of Big Ben, giving it a wipe. It is made of thin glass. The fragility of our existence!

RichardB on September 5th, 2014

Ronald Blythe walks through blackberry-blossomed churchyards

“AUGUST for the people!” cried the democratic Auden. August for staying at home, I say. Once it was August for Cornwall, those north headlands void of visitors which ranged on and on to Devon. A friend awakened these westward longings when a week in Totnes made her restless for something other than East Anglian brightness.

Charles Causley and James Turner, my Cornish poets, took different views on their county. Charles, born and bred in it, was earthy; James romantic. His uncle had been a country rector there; so we drove to his parish through deep lanes to a wonderfully unkempt churchyard where the tombs tottered about this way and that, their engraved slate messages not at all reassuring for the living.

And there he was, twice buried, once in clay, once in blackberries – James’s uncle. We spent hours making him visible. Cathy, James’s wife, picked wild flowers, discovered a jam jar, filled it from a little stream, and there he was, recalled if not actually remembered.

But no Riviera ride from East Anglia to the west on a day like this. The garden chairs are drying out, the birds are calling, and the white cat has taken up her hot morning position on the tumbling wall, held upright by ivy. A novel, too, has been left out all night, and I ask its forgiveness. I bought it for 20p in Wissington church porch, after having shown a guest the faint wall-paintings, loving the way in which history can be so apologetic.

Lots of blackberry blossoms everywhere. And shortly my friend Anthony Atkins will lie there. We began our writer-artist careers together: he the principal of the local art-school, I on the Suffolk coast.

There was a school for church-painters in Colchester in the 13th century, so that people could take the Gospel off the wall, so to speak. The peasant congregations, standing on rushes, would look up, and there was their priest, and St Francis, and the disciples in a rocky ship, and Jesu, joy of man’s desiring, all picked out on plaster, vivid then, but faint these days.

Where are we? St Bartholomew. Already -August going, going, gone! Not quite. Summer hangs on in these parts often until November. But bullaces are shaping in the hedges, and the harvest oblongs rock by on trailers. Corn stubble needs stout shoes and a keen eye. It is so revealing – treasures can come to light; aftermath flowers and flints; once, an arrow-head.

You can see all the way to wherever, and even the practice bells sound louder, although there is no one about and a lonely countryside. Fewer walkers, too, these days. But the pubs are busy, and a lot of eating is done. Although the truth is that I now know little about what is happening, and what I do know is out of date. What would Thomas Hardy or John Clare have made of them – our fields?

But I think they would have liked our churches with still their old language. It is the Song of Songs. They say that the translators had two minds about putting it into the Bible, this passionate Hebrew love poem that we were asked to read as something quite else.

I put “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come” on my friend John Nash’s tombstone, he having been a great naturalist and having looked down on plants from his small height, besides gazing his way through landscape, as much in Cornwall as in the Stour Valley.

RichardB on September 5th, 2014

Ronald Blythe takes in his late-summer garden, leaning on a new stick

ELEGIAC days. I have been given an ash-plant walking stick that John Masefield cut from a hedge on the Western Front. He was a medical orderly. I lean on it in the peaceful August garden. The poplars sing in hushed voices. It has gained a polish where hands have held it, and a ferrule. I try it out on the long walk, and it sends up summer dust. “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you,” Jesus said. Excellent advice.

In church we remember 4 August 1914, first silently, with Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, and then with touches of compline. I read Rupert Brooke’s “Safety” and “The Soldier”. His safety lies in the indestructible heart of things. Very soon, in the same fleet as bore my teenage father to Gallipoli, a mosquito would take his life. He was 27. And here am I, old in the old garden, eating raspberries, telling tales to the white cat, thinking of what to say on Sunday.

There are celebrated dragonflies here. I forget why they are celebrated, but naturalists call on them and they sometimes enthrone themselves on my bare skin, gossamer, shimmering. “August for flying,” they say. Roses tremble beneath them. “August for the people,” W. H. Auden said. August for lazing, say I. I am no good at this, however, which is just as well, considering the state of my desk. But I adore the sounds of August, its orchestral winds, its midnight creaks, its loud birds, its noises off – i.e. the sound of other people’s pleasures. And the splutter of my neighbour’s little aeroplane as he takes a look at our valley.

They are harvesting here and there, not that anyone is interested. The most disturbing in today’s farming year is the total lack of interest in the harvest. In church, Harvest Festival is a kind of apology for ignoring the fields. All is safely gathered in, the tinned peas, the outsize marrow, the magnificent flowers. And there is gratitude, of course. The appalling things we see on the evening screen make me feel lucky. And goodness itself is commonplace, or should we say ordinary?

And while we know a good deal about each other in the village, our lives are too expanded these days for us to feel that we are “observed”. Think of John Clare, who had to hide away in order to write. But then writers are very odd people.

New Zealanders come to see me, and carrying gifts. They call the earth tremors there “the shakes”. They are rebuilding Christchurch Cathedral, and not entirely of cardboard. The loss of the beautiful Victorian architecture four years ago brings tears to our eyes. We mention John Selwyn, who took the gospel to New Zealand, teaching himself Maori on the ship.

I tell them of my old friend Christopher Perkins, who taught at Wellington Art School, and whose work is now in the National Gallery. As a youth, I sat for him as St John, dressed in a sheet. It was for a Dorset reredos. I remember his sketchbooks, with their pages and pages of New Zealand towns and settlements, the wooden houses and tin roofs, and their sense of being far away. As far as you could go. And particularly the Scots.

They – these visitors – were on their way to Scotland, making me feel envious. It is almost the time when the Highlands’ scent of heather is so seductive that it makes one long to emigrate. But the white cat says “Know your place.” Which I try to.

RichardB on September 5th, 2014

Ronald Blythe returns from matins to find three poets in his garden

HAVING preached on St Mary Magdalene at matins, I returned home to find three Persian poets in the garden. Having told my young neighbours that I once lived near Boulge, the Suffolk village where Edward FitzGerald translated The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, they had driven to his grave and recited what was once one of the most popular poems in the English language. I knew most of it by heart in my teens. Published in 1859, it was found in a bookseller’s tuppenny box by Swinburne, and soon everyone was reciting it aloud.

And now, having in my vague way mentioned this famous tale to friends up the lane, here they are, princes from the East, exotic and beautiful, and waiting for a lunchtime drink. Worse or better, whichever you prefer, they returned to their London flats in those clothes. I simply hung my cassock on a peg.

But the Bottengoms roses in their innocence and profusion perfumed the whole garden. The white cat observed all this with some disdain, sprawling on the bone-dry earth and looking up with little interest. Give her good plain human behaviour any day. One of the boys had actually visited Omar’s city, seen his rose in situ, slept under his stars. On the strength of this, he returned to his London flat in his robe, sash, and sandals.

Then John the Vicar calls to discuss 4 August, that tragic date. He has chosen Thomas Hardy’s “Men who March Away”, and Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” and “Safety” for me to read. The latter is a little-known poem about the safety of death. “Safe shall be my going.” So let the slaughter begin.

Time does not still the madness of the First World War. My teenage father ran from the plough to the recruiting station at Stowmarket, and was soon at Gallipoli. Brooke was on the same convoy, but a mosquito intervened, and the troopship pulled in to Skyros, where a grave was dug with difficulty on the rocky shore. Men who sail away.

I lent his poems to Edward, the young friend in the Omar costume, grateful to him for having recreated and freshened what I had thought of as a conventional literary experience.

There comes a time when what was everybody’s “read” is nobody’s read. Also – I speak for myself – when the Booker Prize list is full of well-known names of which one has never heard. I was a Booker Prize judge, years ago. I rose at six every day, and read and read. On the doorstep, when it was warm enough. A fine cat who now sleeps in the wood sat beside me.

We gave the prize to William Golding for his amazing sail to Botany Bay, Rites of Passage, a novel in which the passenger list gives little away. He looked like an old sea captain himself, blue-eyed and bristly. I thought of St Paul when he offered to be thrown overboard, en route to Rome. Seafaring was as risky as skyfaring. “But then,” as a philosophical old friend once said, “if you didn’t take risks, you wouldn’t go anywhere.”

It is bliss, now, not to go far. To stay in the summer garden. To pack the passport away. To pray. To think of what to say on Trinity 7. It is Samuel, of course, Samuel the kingmaker. The little boy who heard God’s voice in the night. “I am here, Lord.” The little boy who would go far.

Books bake on the lawn, their leaves turned by warm winds. Beyond the garden, onions for the supermarket are irrigated by dazzling jets. It is full summer.