January Update

It does of course go without saying that we all wish you a Happy New Year.

One of the impacts of Tier 4 status has ben he decision to cancel Services for the time being. Whilst the current legislation allows services to take place it does rather go against the rest of the regulations when it concerns meeting up, we were also mindful of the need to heed the “Stay at Home” message. Be assured that we will be back once the dust has settled a little.

Whilst we were not permitted to have a Carol Service we did manage a Festive Service of Evensong. So although we had to jump through a few hoops which included reducing capacity by some very considerable way we had a lovely service and were almost full to capacity.

Some time ago when the team arrived in the Church to clean they found two large flints and other debris on the floor at the back of the Church. Clearly they had come off the western end of the Nave but close inspection with binoculars failed to spot their origin. Whilst we always welcome visitors and worshipers, we felt that we should not add the prospect of personal injury by the appearance of any further debris, so needed to find out what was going on. On investigation it was discovered that the falling items had come from the top of the Nave wall. The Nave roof was replaced in 1880 (I have the cost somewhere) but the tops of the wall were left as loose rubble rather than being cleaned off and secured with mortar. Happily, we found someone locally who could not only get up there and investigate but most importantly could effect the necessary repairs. I can now assure all visitors that there is no risk of injury from flying flints etc when visiting All Saints.

The Church yard very sensibly is in sleep mode but delighted to spot the early Daffodils at the front which always precede our Snowdrops and Aconites.

Our very best wishes to you all and our thoughts are very much with those of you who have suffered as a result of the weather before Christmas.

Simon

The team at work repairing the Nave Wall
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The All Saints Churchyard this year

You may have seen earlier in the year the “Churches Count on Nature” initiative. This involved walking the Churchyard to try and identify the wildlife and plants living there. Flower-rich lowland meadows and pastures were once a feature of every farm, but only a tiny fraction remain today. Much of the loss has been recent (97% since 1935) and is due to changes in farming, including the use of artificial fertilisers, changes in cutting regimes (with a move from summer hay to earlier silage cutting) and drainage, as well as abandonment. Churchyards are often a local remnant having been largely undisturbed. All Saints is a typical example, with the recent survey finding over 100 plant species, added to which are a wide variety of insects including the likes of Long Horn beetle which was photographed during the survey.

The Churchyard at All Saints has been managed for wildlife for well over 20 years with the area under management slowly increasing to about 80% today. I am a regular visitor so have the delight to watch it over the seasons with aconite and snowdrops as the first players in January then a succession of flowers including the pretty white Meadow Saxifrage, and we are lucky to have a thriving population which was once common in fields but now is only to be found in the main in Churchyards. 

Then comes June/July and the orchids!  This year has been a real surprise! Where once we would have about 10 plants, this year it is over 100! The vast majority are the Pyramidals but also a few Bee Orchids as well. 

Another resident once common is the Harebell. Itsdelicate, nodding bells are one of the prettiest additions to our grasslands. Flowering between July and September, the harebell mostly grows on dry, undisturbed ground, which is very typical of the ground of the All Saints Churchyard.

I have been on the Village Facebook page about the Orchids which have been an absolute delight this year. I have no idea why these flower populations vary quite so much from year to year but I am sure that the weather over the winter and spring has an effect and I wonder this year if our cold wet spring might be responsible for the orchids. 

There are not just great displays in the church yard of course. Those of you who regularly travel the A47 around Norwich will have seen a wonderful population of the yellow spikes of Hoary Mullein, whilst often growing there, but have never seen in such numbers.   Ten years ago it was only found locally on the A14 around Bury St Edmunds.

The church yard at this time of year is a real treasure trove of wildlife from the huge variety of wild flowers, to bug life and birds. So well worth a wander around as there is always something new to be seen or heard.

Simon

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March Update

ALL SAINTS

As with many things the Church has been bereft of visitors since our Christmas Service apart from the team who did the repair work on the West Nave wall………. BUT there is a little light at the end of the tunnel and we are very hopeful that we will be able to run a service of some form at Easter, of course that does rather depend on the rules at the time, but fingers remain firmly crossed. As soon as we know we will let everyone know. You have no idea what a pleasure it will be to welcome you all to a church service again.

The next event that will happen is our AGM on 21st April at which will review the events and achievements of last year, it will most probably happen by Zoom (what isn’t at the moment!). Again more details nearer the time.

CHURCHYARD

As I write the church yard is ablaze with Aconites and Snowdrops particularly around the north side. Daffodils are coming through before our Meadow Saxifrage makes their annual appearance in May/June. June is a very good time to have a wander around the church yard which you will know is managed for its wildflower population. Every year I am surprised by the appearance or even non-appearance of various flower species there. Please do feel free to pop up there, many of our wildflower species are in decline and church yards offer havens of which All Saints is a very good example. Some peeps think that just because the Church gates are closed means that you cannot go in, nothing could be further from the truth, these gates whilst physically together are never closed to those who wish to enter, a gentle push is all it needs. Additionally, the church will be open at weekends and Bank Holidays after Easter if regulations permit. 

CHURCH LIGHTS.

A big thank you for all those who have had the lights on celebrating or remembering over the recent months it is so lovely to see the church alight. It costs just £5 a night and the money goes straight into our Maintenance Fund from which we draw frequently in the upkeep of this Grade 1 listed 900 year old Church. If you would like the lights on please contact Sue Williams at allsaintsta@btinternet.com . Payment will be needed before the night if you could please.

All Saints Alight!!

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November Mardler from the Church

Well a strange old time we are in, just as we were getting back into our monthly service routine and a couple of midweek Services of Compline, bang! back into lockdown we go. As I write we are in early November and the Church sadly needs to stay closed apart from visits to turn the floodlights on and off. Hopefully you will have seen and appreciated the Poppy projection on the Tower. We are really grateful to the Mardler, the Parish Council and a couple of benefactors in the village who have provided the funds for us to hire the projector. As we move into this festive time of year the Poppy gives us pause to remember those lost in conflict over the years and those families for whom Christmas would never be the same.

Really delighted how well Remembrance Sunday at the Pump turned out, clearly quite amazing how many of the Village happened to be out and about when a couple of us marked the occasion. A big thank you to Jo for the poppies in the grass which together with the wreath did look lovely. 

I think that Christmas may be very different for many of us this year as we cope with the restrictions imposed by COVID. I have no doubt that since as a nation we always rise to any challenge we will all gather somehow to mark this special time of year. As normal we will have the star on the Church Porch together with the Christmas Tree. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that we will be allowed to have a traditional Christmas Carol Service in the Church but are hoping to have a festive Evening Service early in December if the regulations allow.

A big thank you for all those who have had the lights on celebrating or remembering over the recent months, it is so lovely to see the church alight. It costs just £5 a night and the money goes straight into our Maintenance Fund from which we draw frequently in the upkeep of this Grade 1 listed 900 year old Church. If you would like the lights please contact Sue Williams on 07855414941. Payment will be needed before the night if you could please.

Simon

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Remembrance.

The Church Tower Poppy
The Thorpe Abbotts Village Pump suitably adorned for our Act of Remembrance
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Harvest Decorations and Donations to a local charity for the homeless

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There is Always Next Summer

What a very strange summer which has impacted us in so many ways. All Saints like all Churches was required by law to close in March , and only now are we beginning to see our small congregation hold services albeit with certain restrictions such as face masks and no singing.  We would love to be able to open fully but current legislation has put the brakes on. One thing that I have learnt over that past few months is patience: what will happen will happen in its own good time and when it is safe to do so.  However, we are now open and holding the monthly services on the second Sunday of each month as usual – bring a flask and have an outside catch up and cup of coffee after the service, weather permitting.  Also, the monthly Compline services, usually alternated with Billingford, have been held at All Saints until the church at Billingford opens up again. 

One thing that has done well this year has been the garden and for us the allotment with all manner of things needing a bit of extra TLC when water was not forthcoming from the heavens. That lack of water has also impacted on the wildflower population in the Churchyard particularly that very dry Spring. Mind you the normal residents of whatever flowers they are did make an appearance although not in as great a number as normal. Shortly we will be getting in the guys to cut and manage the wildflower areas with my good old trusty Scythe having done its bit too. Due to the restrictions on access to the Churchyard we have reduced the amount we normally cut and it has been lovely to see the huge variety of bugs of all shapes and sizes that now enjoy the longer grass.

The Swifts as always were very active in Thorpe Abbotts where the older properties provide both the height and nesting spots they need, often the roof edges which means that the birds crash land into the gutter then clamber on under the roof. Often these spots are favoured by the Sparrows who of course nest prior to the Swift’s arrival in May. This happened with one of my Swift Boxes and it was interesting to watch the Sparrow’s eviction by the Swift with the ex-resident sitting close by waiting to try and reoccupy. I didn’t see any house martins nesting in the village this year. I am told that the weather in the spring with the wind having a predominately northly set prevented many from completing their spring migration which will have reduced the numbers in the UK. My martin box got taken over the sparrows in any case! I will shortly be taking down my Swift boxes for cleaning so it will be interesting to see how many have been used.

A big thank you for all those who have had the lights on celebrating or remembering over the recent months it is so lovely to see the church alight. It costs just £5 a night and the money goes straight into our Maintenance Fund from which we draw frequently in the upkeep of this Grade 1 listed 900 year old Church. If you would like the lights on please contact Sue Williams on 07855414941. Payment will be needed before the night if you could please.

Simon

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Back at Last

Delighted to say that we are open again and had a lovely service of Morning Prayer followed midweek by an evening service of Compline.

Although we had to wear masks and there was no singing we had some lovely music to meditate by. On conclusion we had a socially distanced cup of tea in the sunshine.

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Life in isolation

Having just published the March bit for th Village magazine it show just what an impact on Church activities the current situation has had. As will many many public places All Saints has closed until some time in the future, hopefully that will not be too long.

The Church has stood on this spot at least since Domesday 1087 and will will have seen many things both joyous and frightening. This is of course not the first time this country has been struck, remember the plague which absolutely devastated the country. No matter how bad that impact was we as a country came through it. Staying at home and local distancing is the best way to help defeat this virus. In the 13th Century they did not understand what was happening, we do today and have the tools to cope let’s facilitate the use off those tools…primarily our outstanding NHS which has in the past has been unfairly criticised. Now we all understand how blessed we are with a comprehensive healthcare system staffed by exceptional people.

We can do without mangetout and avocado pears and other such luxuries and so what if you are running short of wine, enjoy each others company, we will come out of this and before you know it Churches will again be open to welcome you all.

Simon

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