St Margaretís Church,
1852 - 1992
There is a sense of timelessness about St Margaret's Parish Church which has gripped many a visitor. This may have something to do with the remote location of this small, two-cell Welsh church which Betjeman called 'perfect Herefordshire':1 or it may stem from the feeling of being in a building which is patently lovingly cared for. Some might suggest that such a feeling of timelessness is generated by the furnishing of the building but the irony is that this furnishing is almost modern.
The ground plan of St Margaret's Church is undoubtedly 600 years old - and it may well have been this way for 800 years. But were an inhabitant of St Margaret's parish in the first half of the nineteenth century able to see the present church, he or she would be surprised by its appearance. The fact is that since 1852, when the parish of St Margaret's was transferred from the Diocese of Wales to that of Hereford, three major restorations and numerous lesser alterations, additions and repairs have quite altered the appearance of this famous little building.
The reasons for these changes are threefold. In any ancient building there is the constant need for repair and replacement, so the roof, walls, pews, rood screen, organ and kneelers have all required attention at St Margaret's. And when that ancient building is a place of worship a second reason for addition and improvement is that of personal devotion - and the south porch, pulpit and east window all bear clear witness to that. Furthermore, changes in social arrangements and churchmanship also have their effect - hence the destruction of the squire's family pew and the removal of the priest's stall from the chancel to the nave.
All these changes cost money and some of the work done at St Margaret's, since 1852 has been hugely expensive. In 1861 the population of the parish numbered 343 but most of its inhabitants were poor folk, some of whom lived in hovels and eked out a living in desperate circumstances. Such poverty no longer exists in the area but the population of the parish is now only about 100 persons. So the ways in which these massive changes have been paid for deserve recognition. But, first, a summary of these changes.2
The photograph of St Margaret's Church on the front of this
THE VICTORIAN RESTORATION 1865/66
Herbert Howarth Wood, graduate of St John's College, Oxford, keen Sportsman and most eligible of bachelors, became squire of St Margaret's, Turnastone and Vowchurch on the death of his father William Seward Wood in April 1862. His uncle, the Revd Morgan Jones, was Vicar of St Margaret's with Michaelchurch Eskley and two years later, in 1864, H H Wood became People's Churchwarden at St Margaret's and remained so until his death sixty years later. During those sixty years he played the leading role in all the changes to the church and the south porch, which his widow Alice Wyatt Wood and daughter Eveline Alice Wood had rebuilt in 1927, is a worthy memorial to his significant contributions to St Margaret's Church.
H H Wood married Alice in 1867 but it was her older sister Louisa Carrington who visited White House some years earlier and, whilst there, sketched the interior of St Margaret's Church. That sketch, given to the Church by Wood's granddaughter Penelope Bletchley, now hangs on the west wall of the nave and even a cursory glance at it reveals the extent of the restoration and alteration of the building in 1866.
In its edition of 16 June 1866 the magazine The Builder published the following account of this restoration:
From the Parish Book 1865-1931 we learn that Thomas Watkins also supplied two new seats for the chancel and funds were also raised for the purchase of new hassocks. At about the same time two solid-fuel stoves were installed, one in the nave and one in the chancel, and these heated the building for 100 years until it was noted at the AGM of 1969: '...the coke stoves and piping had been removed'.3
Of interest in The Builder's report is the omission of any reference whatsoever to the famous rood screen. It can only be surmised that this was in sound enough condition in 1866 not to require attention. The intriguing fact is that there is ample evidence that some work was done to the screen during the nineteenth century. In 1812 Duncumb recorded that the screen '...still exhibits much of its original decoration' and that '...the effect of the whole is increased by gilding, and by painting in various colours'4 . However, from the evidence of Alfred Watkins' photograph of the screen, published by Francis Bond in 1908,5 the two central posts supporting the main beam together with most of the carving and bratticing had been painted white at some time since 1812. And the removal of that white paint was one of the major tasks when the screen was restored in 1930.
THE EDWARDIAN REPAIRS 1901
The work of restoration in 1866 was '...from want of funds ĒbutĒ...a very partial one' notes the author of The Builder's report and it became apparent towards the end of the nineteenth century that repairs to the structure of the building could be delayed no longer. A 'Reparation Committee' was formed of Mr H R Trafford (the patron of the living Mr Guy Trafford (Hill Court) Colonel Bellers (Bacton) Mr H H Wood (White House) the Revd P S Cooke (Vicar) and Mr J Alford (Churchwarden)6 . It met for the first time on 10 March 1899 and again a month later on 11 April in order to assess the matter and to decide upon a course of action.
According to the Hereford Times the situation faced by the members of the Reparation Committee was that '...owing to the removal at some remote period of all the thick oak beams which originally crossed the interior of the church, the walls began to bulge. The roof was in a dilapidated condition, and so was the broad cage-like bell-turretí 7 . The Committee engaged a Mr Hanson, architect, of Clifton to draw up plans for the necessary repairs but it was not until the Spring of 1901 that his recommendations were considered. At a meeting on 22 March 1901 the members of the Committee decided '... the bells to be taken down by a professional bell-hanger. The roof of the tower to be removed: the under-sleepers to be replaced and new weather-boarding. Instead of present doorway an arch should be erected leading into the belfry. The roof of nave to be stripped and condition of timbers to be investigated. The two coigns of east wall of nave to be restored. The porch to be repaired.'8 It was also decided that Mr Thomas Palmer be invited to strip the roof after the bells had been taken down but at a further meeting of the committee on 1 July it was reported that '... Thomas Palmer declines to undertake the repair of the nave'9 . So it came about that Messrs Beavan & Hodges, builders, of Hereford executed all the building work.
The weather must have been good in St Margaret's during the summer and autumn of 1901 because the work was completed by the end of October and a Service of Thanksgiving together with Harvest Festival was held on Thursday 7 November at 3.00 pm To be absolutely accurate, not all the work begun that summer was finished that year. An entry in the Parish Book 1865-1931 for 1907 reads: '2 bells were re-casted by John Warner & Son 2 Lewin Crescent, Cripplegate, London. 'The above 2 bells were re-hung by G Day & Son, Eye, Suffolk, November 1907 in St Margaret's Parish Church.' And, as already noted, the porch was not repaired until 1927.
At its meeting on 1 July the Committee had decided that it wouId supply timber, tiles, stone, lime and sand for the repairs: and a copy of the accounts shows that H H Wood provided the new oak timber from White House Wood and that his estate workers together with Messrs Alford, Morgan, Powell, Herring and Gwillim 'did the cartage', all to the value of £99. As the then-owner of Tan House Farm (tenanted by his fellow-churchwarden J Alford) H H Wood also gave stone which 'Ö-was obtained from the bed rock in the fold-yard of the churchwarden close by'.10
The restoration prompted other gifts. The new turret was surmounted by a new weathercock given by the Revd JG Murray-Aynsley of Great Bampton, Madley. Lady Hopton and Mrs F R Green of Turnastone Rectory presented a gold-embroidered altar-cloth and super-altar. And Mrs Trafford of Michaelchurch Court gave a brass Maltese cross and two brass vases for the altar. An interesting by-product of the repairs to the roof of the nave, and an eloquent reminder of St Margaret's past as a Welsh parish, is a piece of carved and moulded frieze some 5'0" long, 3 and a half inches wide and 1" thick. It is dated 1574 and engraved 'KARKA DY DDIWEDD'. It was rescued by H H Wood and stored at White House for safe preservation, only being moved back to the church after his death.
The service on 7 November 1901 was well attended by parishioners and friends, including most of the gentry from neighbouring parishes. There was a good choir, accompanied in turn on the harmonium by Miss E Alford and Mr W Morgan (whose memorial tablet now graces the north wall of the nave), and amongst the six surpliced clergy present was Archdeacon Stanhope who preached the sermon.
The Archdeacon was right: the building was'...:fit to hand on to those who came after them, although it was not perfect'11 and within twenty years fresh efforts were needed to renovate it.
A MOST SIGNIFICANT DECADE: 1920-30
One of the final entries in The Parish Book 1865-1931 reads: '1931, 9 Ap - A vote of thanks was passed by the PCC to Mr Wm. Jordan who has been Churchwarden for TEN years, and who, through failing health tendered his resignation from that office. The PCC wishes to record its appreciation for the excellent services Mr Jordan has rendered during his term of office.'
John William Jordan, who rarely ever used his first name, did indeed render excellent services to St Margaret's. A native of Leicestershire and a policeman by profession who spent his retirement at The Fountain, on the south-east boundary of the churchyard, he became Vicarís Warden in 1921 in his seventieth year. The changes and challenges in the parish during the next ten years were to be massive and William Jordanís contributions were pivotal.
Two changes in particular amounting to revolutions (which really are outside the scope of this pamphlet but which ought to be mentioned) required careful diplomacy. The first altered the governance and administration of the parish. Up to 1921 the affairs of the parish had been handled by the Vicar and the churchwardens, one of whom happened to be the squire. On 20 April 1922 the very first meeting of the Parochial Church Council took place at 7.30 pm at Park Farm.
With this reorganisation power and authority passed from the landed gentry to elected representatives of the congregation, some of whom were employed by the gentry. H H Wood died two years later, in 1924, and was succeeded as Peopleís Warden by his eldest son Ernest Hardwick Wood. William Jordan's letters to EH Wood are redolent of the tension between the exercise of new power and respect for a squirearchical family.
The second revolution that required careful handling was in churchmanship. The Revd Edgar Arnold Gray, Vicar of St Margaret's with Michaelchurch Eskcley 1917-28 was a high churchman who celebrated saints' days and patronal festivals, had Festal Evensong whenever appropriate and recorded such feasts in the Register of Services in red ink. He took his last service at St Margaret's, Evensong, on 19 August 1928. There was then an interregnum of almost thirteen months, during which William Jordan arranged for other priests to conduct services, until the Revd William James Broome of Llandaff, Cardiff was inducted to the living on 3 September 1929. He introduced a style of churchmanship which may be termed ' low' or 'evangelical'. Such a massive change must have been very difficult for William Jordan who was very close to Gray: and this came at a tine when the old man was struggling to avert the possible total loss of the rood screen.
The decade began in the shadow of the Great War and at 3.00 pm Evensong on the First Sunday in Lent, 22 February 1920, the Vicar dedicated the War memorial Tablets which grace the nave. Gray recorded that the church was very full and that the large offertory of £1-18-2 was given to the Returned Soldiers Presentation Fund. Later that same year on Sunday 7 November, once again at Evensong, there was a ' Special Service of Thanksgiving and memorial for those who were killed in action and died of wounds or sickness in the Great War'.12
The advent of these War Memorial Tablets was the beginning of a succession of changes to the internal appearance of the church. In 1923 the PCC decided to purchase 5 oil lamps from the parish of Michaelchurch Eskcley to replace candles as lighting in the nave (and waited until 1938 to purchase another for the chancel!) In 1925 the chancel roof was stripped and the barrel roof removed and replaced as it is today. And a year later ' A stained window was put in the East end of the Chancel by Mr Davies of Bromsgrove Guild, Worcestershire. The Donor of the Window did not wish his name to be known. (Communion Table, Cross and Candle sticks by same Donor).13
This magnificent anonymous gift deserves a pamphlet to itself.14 Suffice it to say it is a splendid example of the Victorian tradition of stained glass, executed by a master craftsman, utterly unique and incapable of being installed in any other building. It is redolent of the high churchmanship of the Revd F A Gray and was dedicated by the Archdeacon of Hereford, The Ven R T A Money-Kyrle, at Festal Evensong on the Patronal Festival, Tuesday 20 July 1926. One visitor later recorded his opinion in the Visitors Book: 'The east window is as important as the screení.
In 1927, as already noted, the south porch was rebuilt and an oak tablet placed in it in memory of H H Wood. It was dedicated by the Vicar, assisted by the Revd F A Whitfield, Vicar of Vowchurch, at Evensong on 7 August and a note in William Jordan's handwriting in The Parish Book 1865-1931 speaks volumes for the difficult path he had to tread: 'William Jordan, Vicar's Warden was not present being away from home unfortunately not knowing the Dedication was to take place on this day. Had I have known I should have been present at the Service without fail.' Perhaps the late squire's family had not taken kindly to the Hon Secretary of the PCC, Ivor E Jones, writing to E H Wood about a PCC meeting on 21 September the previous year (which the latter had not attended): 'Dear Sir, At a meeting of the above held at Park Farm it was desired that this letter should be sent to you. Could you kindly make it your business to forward on the work of restoration of the Church Porch as it is in a very bad state of repair?'15 Power had indeed passed to the people!
On 1 February 1929 the ancient harmonium which for more than fifty years had accompanied the singing in church, was traded in for the princely sum of £1-00 and an American organ purchased from Messrs Hines & Co, Hereford, for £25-00. This obviously came without a stool for at Easter 1930, 'An oak music Stool given by Mr Ivor E Jones of Hains Place St Margaret's made by his Father Mr E Jones' was placed in church. And at Whitsuntide the same family gave a new oak bowl for taking the collection at service. At the same time William Jordan had the very valuable Churchwardens Instructions in English and Welsh re-framed at his own expense.16
Whilst all these additions and improvements to the furniture of the church were being made the Vicar, Wardens and members of the PCC were struggling with two major faults in the building. It had become clear that the bottoms of the nave walls and the foundations of those walls were in need of attention. The newly-formed PCC first discussed the matter on 5 April 1923. After taking advice from various experts the Council paid a Mr Paul, architect, £6-6-0 for his report on the condition of the walls and necessary repairs. That was in 1924. But it was not until 1927 that sufficient funds were available for the PCC to ask Beavan & Hodges to give an estimate of the cost of carrying out the repairs.
There is no record of Beavan & Hodges' response but at the PCC meeting on 19 April 1928 it was resolved to ask Mr Ernest Pritchard, Mason of Newton, to send an estimate of the costs to the PCC as soon as possible. Now whether or not the fact that William Jordan's son was married to Ernest Pritchard's daughter had anything to do with the matter, it was resolved quickly. On 14 June ' A Church Council meeting was held at Tanhouse Farm at 7 pm to discuss the estimate for repairs. Mr E Pritchard's estimate was accepted and approved'.17 And before winter set in the work had been done.
Ernest Pritchard's estimate reveals the extent of the problem.
This was the first major set of repairs and improvements that the new PCC had organised but at the same time its members were faced by a potential disaster, nothing less than the loss of the rood screen and loft.
THE RESTORATION OF THE ROOD SCREEN AND LOFT 1930
An entry in The Parish Book 1865-1931 reads: 'The Screen was taken down and repaired and restored at the expense of a few subscribers. Harold Charles Moffatt Esquire of Goodrich Court, near Ross, Herefordshire was the chief subscriber. The restoration was completed November 1930.'
This succinct, accurate report hides a great drama even as it hints at great generosity. At the heart of the drama was the financial difficulties of the Wood family of Whitehouse and the comparative poverty of most of the people of St Margaret's (who in 1931 numbered 193). H H Wood had invested heavily in the unprofitable Golden Valley Railway and had lost so many thousands of pounds that he was driven to sell land and property in St Margaret's and Peterchurch in 1920. After his death in 1924 his widow and daughter paid for the repair of the south porch but the family which had contributed so generously to St Margaret's Church since 1852 was in no position to finance the restoration of the screen, or even to play a leading part in it. And the people of the parish were fund-raising as hard as they could to pay for the improvements and repairs listed in the previous section. Add to this a justifiable ignorance amongst local craftsmen of how to deal with a heavily white-painted, rotting, sixteenth-century construction and the drama is apparent. St Margaret's Church, like Bacton Church, might have retained nothing but its loft staircase.
'It had been evident for some years that restoration would become absolutely necessary. The floor of the loft was decaying, the cove, with its moulded ribs and bosses, was ready to collapse, the side walls which held the screen in position were going outwards, and the screen was left almost without support'.18 Fortunately the parish found a very good friend in the Archdeacon. The matter was brought to his attention on 19 May 1925 when he visited the church and he it was who interested the Dean of Hereford in the matter and who, together with the Dean, approached Harold Charles Moffatt.
Moffatt had already generously paid for the restoration of the presses in the Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral and was known to have an interest in rood screens. Eventually he was to subscribe some £850 to the total cost of £900 for the screen's restoration.
Arrangements were made for a London architect, Frederick Bligh Bond, to inspect the screen on 23 September 1925 and, one month later, 24 October, he submitted his Report and Estimate for the necessary repairs. He proposed not to restore the gates which once filled the space below the chancel arch. But he did propose to reconstruct the gallery front with twenty perforated, traceried panels and intermediate uprights, similar to those at Patrishow.
More controversially he proposed the provision of two statuettes (one being of St Margaret) to fill the empty niches at the head of the posts supporting the screen. He was also of a mind to open up the hagioscope which runs through the wall to the north of the Norman chancel arch, opening out underneath one of the stone steps of the staircase to the loft. In order to achieve this restoration the screen was to be removed to Exeter, to St Sidwell's Art Works, where a Mr Herbert Read was to undertake the work.
Nothing came of these proposals, however - and that for two good reasons. Bond's estimate of the cost of restoration was £980 and the most that was ever raised by subscribers other than Moffatt was £42-1-6. Upon receipt of Bond's proposals, Moffatt wrote to Guy Trafford, the Patron of the Living: 'As the estimate stands it is about £980. You will have first to see what you can raise. I will give you £100 to start you off.' But the other subscribers and parishioners could raise no more.
Bond's proposals also failed to gain Moffatt's support. He regarded the architect's scheme as a most drastic restoration, partly conjectural, which would result in there being quite as much new work as old. And he had no time for the statuettes. So for five years nothing was done and the screen and loft continued to deteriorate.
There is no record of why the work that was done in 1930 was undertaken in that particular year. One may legitimately speculate that it was a case of 'now or never'. What is certain is that it was taken out of the hands of the PCC and became Moffatt's own particular enterprise. He it was who appointed the architect W E H Clarke of Nicholson & Clarke, Hereford, to oversee the work. And together they engaged the builder, Walter Davies of Hereford, to do the work.
On 6 May 1930 Davies moved in with his men and erected a large shed in the churchyard on the north side of the church. The screen was dismantled and then re-erected piece by piece in the shed - and it was at this stage that various discoveries were made, the most serious of which prompted a crisis meeting at the church on 25 June. Clarke records: 'It was found that really the loft was holding up the walls (of the nave) and the latter were built of thin slabs of stone and the joints filled with earth. In the course of time the roof leaked and this played havoc washing out the earth'.19 On that day, 25 June, Moffatt undertook to pay for the rebuilding of the walls as well as the screen.
It was also discovered that the screen had been taken down previously and wrongly reassembled - many of the running mouldings were in the wrong groove. Sadly the heavy white enamel paint applied during the nineteenth century made it impossible to identify the original colours which had been used to decorate the carvings. But close examination of those horizontal running carvings revealed that all were made from split, and not sawn, timber. The grain of the timber is thus true and the carvings do not warp and do not require numerous heavy fixings.
All the new, beautiful, intricate carving was carried out by 25 years old John Evans of Worcester who had the honour of signing the new Visitors Book on its first page on 30 October 1930. Five weeks later 'Harold Charles Moffatt...visited St Margaret's Church with the Dean of Hereford also Mr Clarke, Architect at 2.00 p.m...to inspect the work at the walls and restoration of the Rood Loft Screen. Mr Moffatt was very pleased.'20 And six months later, on Thursday 11 June 1931, 115 people crowded into the little church for the dedication of the work by the Dean of Hereford, Dr R Waterfield MA DD.
Five years later, to the very day, 11 June 1936 the present pulpit (in oak to harmonize with the screen) was dedicated by the Archdeacon to the glory of God and in memory of Ernest Hardwick Wood who died 1 April 1935 and who is buried at Vowchurch. And less than a year later, on 14 April 1937, John William Jordan was buried in the south-west corner of the churchyard. Strangely nobody ever affixed even a little plaque to commemorate Harold Charles Moffatt's generosity.
THE POST-WAR PERIOD
The restoration of the rood screen and loft was the last major renovation at the church but the members of the PCC and of the congregation continued to maintain and improve the furnishing of the old building in a variety of ways, many of them unrecorded. The PCC discussed the fabric of the building at 37 of their 72 meetings between 14 April 1932 and 23 April 1981 and from the minutes of those meetings one can trace some regular repairs, pleasing acquisitions and almost-humorous sagas.
With the wind off the mountain driving the rain horizontally at the exposed church the replacement of tiles on the roof is regularly necessary. John E Howard of Ferndale, St Margaret' s undertook these repairs for 36 years until his death in 1992, often using tiles given by William Jordan, the grandson of the former churchwarden of that name. At the same time, inside the building, the walls are occasionally painted by bands of volunteers both to lighten the colour and to deal with mildew. And in 1975, and in the following five years, worm infestation was attacked by fumigating the church with Furnite. At the AGM on 28 March 1977 'Mr David Pritchard was thanked once again for the various repairs he had done - again without charge. It was suggested that the belfry might just as well be netted against birds etc inside, and more easily than outside.'21
At the AGM on 19 April 1949 'Satisfaction was expressed with the new lighting and Mrs Swaffield and Mrs Tilbury and helpers and all who gave to the fund were thanked for their help.'22 This' new lighting' was the ten calor gas lights installed by A Jackson of Abergavenny which superseded the oil lamps. Seventeen years later the calor gas lights were replaced by electric lights installed by D C Hughes of Hereford who also supplied Echo Convector Heaters to warm the building - an improvement made possible by the bequest of Mrs Lilian Bradley.
In 1967 anonymous donors gave the blue carpet in the sanctuary and this was dedicated by the Revd A Rowland on Easter Day. In 1975 a strip of blue carpet was bought and laid in front of the Communion Rail in memory of Churchwarden D O Littlejohns. And the sanctuary was further enhanced by the gift of a 'fair linen cloth for the Holy Table' by Mrs Luther and a 'runner' for the Holy Table by Mrs Dorothy Gilbert in memory of her mother Olive Anne Powell, a sister of Mrs Luther.
At the other end of the building three new bell-ropes were acquired from Kentchurch and installed in 1975, the cost being met by a gift of £10 by Mr & Mrs F Powell. And new prayer books and hymn books were purchased with donations made in memory of Denzil Gwilliam, Vicar's Warden 1931-65.
Two features of the church about which members of the PCC found it very difficult to be decisive were the path leading south from the porch, and the American organ. As early as 31 March 1937 the PCC '...discussed the state of the Church Path, but it was decided to leave it alone for the time being. 'Leaving it alone for the time being'23 became the policy for at least the next twenty-five years and even in 1962, after the PCC had discussed the matter no less than eleven times, it was decided at the AGM '...to get estimates at some future date'! It was repaired later in the 1960's but the wicked irony is that, when the definitive footpaths were settled in St Margaret's parish in 1974, it was the east-west path in the Church Yard which was declared a public footpath and not the north-south!
The performance of the American organ was discussed no fewer than thirteen times between 1932-81 and a special meeting was called after Matins on 27November 1977 to sort out the problem. Having been purchased in 1929 the organ was cleaned, repaired and tuned for the first time in 1936, and again in 1949. In 1954 'It was decided to look around for an Organ as the present one is getting the worse for wear.'24 And this was when the debate started. Three strategies were discussed again and again - repair the present organ, purchase a second-hand organ/harmonium, or purchase a new organ. And, as might be imagined, the whole debate was bedevilled by the shortage of funds and aesthetic taste. In 1975, for example, members of the PCC hoped to '...be able to find what we require for not more than £20.'25 The Diocesan Office was consulted, the cathedral organist asked for advice and even a firm as far a field as Evesham was brought in.
The minutes of that Special PCC Meeting on 27 November 1977 read:
Mr & Mrs F Powell gave £20 towards meeting this expense and the American organ continued to make music until in 1988 it was retired to the vestry in favour of an electronic organ purchased for £773-91. Throughout this post-war period St Margaret's Church received numerous donations and legacies and at the PCC Meeting of 29 June 1975 'Mrs Alan Watkins suggested that, in addition to mention in these minutes, there should be some sort of record book maintained available for all to see': and at its meeting six months later the PCC authorised its Hon Secretary'...to buy, for up to £5-00, a well-bound book in which to record donations in memory of deceased parishioners.26 That book is normally kept in the chancel 'for all to see'. A second book (loose-leaf file), usually kept at the back of the church, records the making of some 50 kneelers in the late 1980's and early 1990' s by ladies of St Margaret' s and neighbouring parishes led by Joyce Holley. George Charnock photographed the kneelers for that file.
MEETING THE EXPENSE
As noted above, the cost of restoring the rood screen, loft and nave walls in 1930 was met almost entirely by H C Moffatt. The other seven subscribers were local gentry, clergy and one parishioner. Church collections and sales of description of the then new east window raised £3-5-0. This way of meeting such a single large account repeated that of 1866. The Wood family was then the largest subscriber donating £100 to the £150 cost. Local gentry and clergy gave £23 in total, the Diocesan Church Building Society £10 whilst collections at church raised £17.
In 1901 the Wood family once again contributed more than £100 worth of materials and labour, and the Diocesan Church Building Society granted £20 to the additional £337-16-0 required to do the work but this time some twenty eight individual persons are named a subscribers of amounts ranging from 5 shillings to £50-0-0. Anonymous parishioners gave £1-16-6. Of some historical importance is the first record in the parish of a jumble sale and a fete which raised, in turn, £14-10-0 and £27-14-4 respectively.27
It was at the turn of the century then, and not with the later establishment of the PCC in 1922, that parishioners began to organize events to generate funds for the parish church. With the advent of that Council, however, there began a variety of such events, often for specific purposes or purchases. So in 1923 proceeds from social evenings and 'entertainments' (unspecified) held at Newton School paid for oil lamps for the nave: and profits of whist drives and socials in 1948 and 1951 paid for the installation of calor gas lighting.
The accounts record that in 1927 collecting boxes in private houses raised just over £5-00: whilst from 1931 onwards the church box in the nave received many donations from visitors. Musical evenings (1971-73) and harvest suppers (1972-75) also generated income: and the sale of postcards of the church and historical notes on it since 1975, and of stationery designed by Luana Wren, all proved profitable. Since 1976 an annual flower festival has been held and in 1992 that alone generated £259-94 profit. Add to these funds the many donations referred to above, and add these supplements to the regular giving by members of the Church, and leave all in the care of Hon Treasurer Phyllis Gwilliam of Tan House, and St Margaret' s Church accounts for 1992 showed it to be £6862-28 in credit. This, however, is but a small amount in the face of any restoration similar in size to those of 1866, 1901 & 1930 but it is evidence of quiet prudence on the part of a small Christian congregation whose compulsory annual payment to the Diocesan authorities rose from 13% of its annual income in 1930 to 42% of that income in 1992.
St Margarets Church-December 1927
The interior of St Margaretís Church
1 'My own memory of the perfect Herefordshire is a spring day in the foothills of the Black Mountains and finding among winding hilltop lanes the remote little church of St Margaret's where there was no sound but a farm dog's distant barking.' John Betjeman English Parish Churches Collins 1958
2 This summary is far from exhaustive. Many anonymous gifts and much work at St Margaret' s has gone unrecorded.
3 Minutes of Meetings of PCC, Easter Vestry meetings and Annual Meetings of Parishioners to elect Churchwardens 14 April 1932 - 11 January 1983.
4 Duncumb J Collections towards the History & Antiquities of the County of Hereford Vol 2 Part 1 1812
5 Bond F Screens and Galleries in English Churches OPU 1908.
6 'Reopening of St Margaret's Church' in Hereford Times 9 November 1901
8 The Parish Book 1865-1931
10 Hereford Times op.cit.
12 Register of Services
13 The Parish Book 1865-1931
14 There is plenty of information about this window and about Mr Davies on display in the chancel.
15 Letter Book 1926-46
16 The Parish Book 1865-1931
18 'Fine Rood Loft Restored' Hereford Times 13 June 1931
19 Transactions Woolhope Naturalists Field Club
Vol for 1933-35 pp. lxi & lxii
20 The Parish Book 1865-19ó31
21 Minutes of Meetings of PCC etc 14 April 1932 - 11th January 1983
27 A printed sheet Repairs of St Margaret's Church, 1901, signed by P S Cook, Vicar; J Alford, Churchwarden & Herbert Howorth Wood giving full details of receipts and expenditure was published after the work was completed. That which I saw and copied belonged to Mr A T Luther of Lower Rock.
Copyright Raymond Holley
This item is taken from
Renovations, Repairs and Restoration at St Margaretís Church 1852-1992
Published by Raymond Holley in 2000
all proceeds from that sale going to St Margaretís Church funds
reproduced here with the permission of the author