“Collected for the redemption of the English captives out of Turkish Bondage £9/5/6 December 1670.”
This is a hand-written note on the side of a page in the All Saints record of management decisions made by the Church Officials known as the Vestry Book. Well what’s this all about I wondered?
Piracy and the taking of slaves had been a fact of life in the Mediterranean for over 300 years, the Mediterranean coastlines were at the mercy of Barbary pirates (corsairs) from the coast of North Africa, based mainly in the ports of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. Their number included not only North Africans but also English and Dutch privateers operating against Spain with the support of the English Government. Their aim was to capture slaves for the Arab slave markets in North Africa.
The Barbary pirates attacked and plundered as far north as the English Channel, Ireland, Scotland and Iceland, with the western coast of England almost being raided at will. It is estimated that along with raids along the coast that between 1677 and 1680 some 160 English ships were captured which would translate into a probable 7,000-9,000 able bodied souls taken into slavery in those years.
The English Government, unlike its Catholic neighbours, was slow to organise or finance the freeing of its nationals by payment of a ransom. The English Church however did seek funds and the note in our Vestry Book is testament.
After an attack on Algiers by the British and Dutch in 1816 more than 4,000 Christian slaves were liberated and the power of the Barbary pirates was finally broken
The chestnut tree on the north side of th church yard lost a large bough in the autumn storms which indicated that the tree was deceased. Advice was sought which suggested that its time had come thus it was that a couple of weeks ago armed with chainsaws we it was taken down. It has opened up the church yard wonderfully and now the debate is whether we replace it and if so what with.
Easter will soon be on us. In the meantime of course we are in lent during which we do not have flowers in Church. During this time, lead by Lynda Mansfield, we have a Lent course run as a house group around the village. Probably the most important Christian event of the year Easter is quite early this year being the last weekend of March. We will hold an Easter Service at All Saints at 9.30am on Sunday 1st April, as always a very warm welcome awaits.