Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Country Church

For the past year or so, I've found myself on the email list of the vestry of a small parish church in Bedfordshire, England. It's not spam; one of the committee members not only shares my last name, she also uses the same email service and there is only one letter's difference between our email addresses. I've occasionally tried to write back to the priest, and she is very apologetic and promises to fix her email list, but every week or so I get another email from her or one of the other vestry members about scheduling a meeting, finding volunteers for events, and so on.

Part of me actually enjoys this strange little window into the small life of a country church in England, so far removed from my circumstances here. It's a pretty church, probably Saxon in origin, with an important 13th century fresco of Christ on the cross. It appears to be a small congregation, but a cheerful one; Holly won the "Silly Hat" competition, and over the holidays the singing carolers raised almost £300 for the Children's Society. I hope the infestation of "deathwatch beetles" (sounds grim!) is controlled before it destroys the roof. I wonder if they could use help fixing the web site, it looks a little worn around the edges.

The bizarre thing is, I have the feeling that I might have actually been to this church--it's located right near where Mary went to veterinary school outside of London, and I had a habit of stopping to examine pretty old churches during my visits to her. I could be imagining it, but the pictures on the web site look awfully familiar.

However, Rosemary Gentry, if you are out there, don't be miffed if your fellow committee members are not consulting you to schedule servers for Sunday services! They are trying their best.

Either that, or this is an elaborate hoax that is going to end up with me wiring thousands of dollars to Nigeria.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Philip, you probably don't remember that back in the 1600's, the Gentrys are thought to have come from Essex county (the area east of where Mary lived, to the sea). Who knows, you and Rosemary (or her husband if she is married) may be related many generations back. Ask her some time about the earliest records of christenings, marriages, or burials for Gentrys in that church. Most of those small churchs have records going back many, many years.