The Rector writes…

  1. Our Day of Prayer and Gifts for the Abbey, Castleton and St Paul’s was held just eight days ago, on Saturday 7 October. Honorary Treasurer Bernard Brown tells me that the total of gifts so far received is £20,563. This is inclusive of new or revised standing orders, and Gift Aid. I hope I am not wrong in taking your generosity as a great vote of confidence in the ministry and mission, the worship and witness, of our Parish. Above all I must thank all those of you who have contributed thus far.


We know from past years that gifts continue to be received over the weeks following Gift Day, so all I need to add is that the books will remain open until the end of the month. For those of you who have been away and want to make a donation, the white Gift Aid envelopes with the distinctive red dot are available from the Parish Office. Or simply use any white envelope, write GIFT DAY on it and put it in the collection or return it to the Parish Office. If you are a UK tax payer, please complete the form on the front of the envelope. Very many thanks.


  1. Tomorrow is Pack Monday, when our Social Committee runs a café in the Church Hall, this year closing after lunch. This is a wonderful piece of Christian service which also enables the Social Committee to raise the funds to put on other events on our behalf during the year. But it needs helpers. There is a list at the back of the Abbey, which is self-explanatory, for last-minute volunteers. Could you help for an hour? Meanwhile, please remember that we will be locking the Close gates immediately after Evensong tonight, and they will not be opened again until Tuesday morning.


  1.  All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day will soon be here, 1st and 2nd November. This year All Souls’ falls on a Thursday, and will be marked by a Requiem Eucharist at the usual Thursday time of 12 noon. The Eucharist will be celebrated at the High Altar, with the congregation seated in the Quire (or at the front of the nave if wishing to avoid steps into the choir stalls).


Those wishing to have family members or friends commemorated at the All Souls’ Requiem are invited to write their names in the loose-leaf file at the back of the Abbey. Please note that the names of all those whose funerals we have taken this year are automatically included, and do not need to be added.


  1. A welcome addition to our services on All Souls’ Day is a Choral Evensong at 5.30 pm (Thursday 2 November). This is being arranged by Elliott Park, who was one of last year’s Choral Scholars. A graduate of Durham (BA) and Cambridge (MPhil), Elliott is now on the staff of the Music Department at Sherborne School. With my and our Director of Music’s encouragement, he has been recruiting for an “occasional” choir to be known as “The St Aldhelm’s Singers”, and their Evensong for All Souls will include E W Naylor’s anthem In Paradisum. Do come.


  1. Before All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days is of course All Hallows’ Eve – Halloween. The modern, commercially-driven, trend to make much of this disguises a deep-seated, dark and potentially dangerous interest in matters occult. I have not been a priest for nearly 40 years without seeing evidence of this at first hand.


That’s why I am delighted that St Paul’s Church is offering an alternative for children in school years 3 to 6: a Light Party at the Church on Tuesday 31 October from 6.00 pm to 7.30 pm. Children are invited to come in fancy dress, as either Angels or Heroes! To learn more, and RSVP, please telephone 01935 816444 or email


  1. November is truly the “month of Remembrance”, and this year we have a rather special Remembrance weekend. First, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – which falls on a Saturday this year – we will observe the Two Minutes’ Silence in the Abbey at 11.00 am. But then, at 11.15 am, Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fry, KCB, CBE, will give a talk in the Abbey entitled Passchendaele and Posterity. Sir Robert, who was formerly Commandant General of the Royal Marines and Director of Operations at the Ministry of Defence, is now (amongst many other roles) a Visiting Professor at King’s College, London and a Trustee of Help for Heroes. He has told me that he would prefer the event to be billed as a talk rather than a lecture, and that he will speak for no more than half an hour. So with time for questions, we should be finished by 12 noon. There will be no tickets and no charge, but a retiring collection for Help for Heroes.


Then, the next day (Sunday 12 November) the preacher at the Abbey’s Service of Remembrance will be Major General Sir Robert Corbett, KCVO, CB. Sir Robert’s extraordinarily varied military career included commanding the Army’s Parachute Brigade and serving as British Commandant in Berlin at the time of the fall of the Wall. His final military appointment was as Commander of the Guards Division and of the Army in London. The service will be attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset. We are very fortunate to have these two distinguished officers with us over Remembrance weekend.


  1. It is time to be thinking about the 2018 Confirmation, which will be shared with candidates from Leweston School. We have now finalised the date of the service: it will be held in the Abbey at 11.00 am on Saturday 3 March.


The Reverend Lesley McCreadie will be preparing the Leweston candidates, beginning classes at the school after half-term. Meanwhile it is probably simplest if potential candidates talk in the first instance to the member of the clergy team most closely associated with their particular church: Lesley at Longburton, Jane Craw at Castleton, Jono Tregale at St Paul’s or me at the Abbey. Choristers (or their parents) might like to talk to one or other of the Choir Chaplains: Guntars Reboks or Charles Mitchell-Innes. I am aware of a number of regular adult worshippers who “never quite got round” to being Confirmed. Please think about it and get in touch!


  1. The Times recently had a splendid write-up of a journey in Germany very similar to that we are planning for next year, “In the steps of Martin Luther”. It is now displayed in the Abbey. Even if you know Germany well, the chances are that you have not visited all the towns associated with Luther, as many of them are in the former East Germany. Some of them are medieval gems. Do read the article. Brochures for the trip are available in the Parish Office. It will take place between 4 and 14 June 2018. Why not consider joining us?


9. Sandra and I will be holding two Newcomers’ Drinks Parties at the Vicarage next month, on Tuesday 14 November and Friday 17 November, from 6.00 to 7.30 pm. By definition we need newcomers to “volunteer themselves” to come to have a drink with us. To have your names added, email me at or call 01935 812452 or drop into the Parish Office. Please propose yourself/yourselves – as they used to say – and treat the word “newcomer” liberally. If you feel you haven’t yet had a chance to get to know us a bit, then this is it!