The tryptic from the east wall of the Chancel has been restored to it’s rightful place. It was removed in the 1980s to allow repair work to the east wall, but was never put back and ended up being stored in the tower. A faculty [Diocesan Permission] was never granted to remove it permanently from it’s original position. A number of years later, when the reordering work took place at the west end of the church and the toilet installed in the tower, it was moved again.
There was an attempt to sell it to a church in London, but the Diocese would not allow this as it was an important piece of artwork. There had been a plan to display it by the side altar of St Joseph but this never happened. It finally ended up being stored behind the side altar where it was discovered, by chance, last October.
Canon Richard Hancock recognised it as a piece of art by the renowned church artist Martin Travers. After discussions with the Archdeacon, he said it must be returned to it’s rightful place as permission had not been granted for it’s permanent removal. It was also a significant piece of artwork and part of the history of St Mary’s.
While this kind of religious art may not be to everyone’s taste, we are fortunate to still have something like this in our small rural church.
We are delighted to announce that a new priest in charge has been selected for our Parish. He is the Reverend Canon Richard Hancock, currently of the parish of Shrivenham. Richard was originally a Freelance Professional Photographer and then became a Full-Time Youth & Childrens’ Worker before being ordained in 1997 after studying at Westcott House Cambridge. He is an Honouree Canon of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford and a life professed Tertiary in The Society of St Francis [TSSF]. His Hobbies include Photography, Campaign for Real Ale [CAMRA], and Classic Cars & Motor Sport. Richard is married with two teenage children, they join us on 24th September.
The churchyard at St Mary’s, Sixpenny Handley, is running short of space and that for some years there has been talk of using the extension area, between the bottom of the current churchyard and the recreation ground. Through a very generous donation by Richard Adlem we are now in a position to undertake this work. Our plan for this area falls into two phases; the first is to clear the scrub that has grown up, including pulling out all the roots. The second phase is to spread the chalk interment spoil, currently by the back gate, over this cleared ground and then cover it completely with topsoil.
Dave Swift will be doing this work for us and has now completed the clearance of scrub and roots. Relevant planning permissions are in hand, but we cannot undertake the second phase until the area is consecrated, and for that we need the visit of a bishop!
We hope that by next year we will have the extension area ready and more usable space by the back gate. Of course it will be untidy for a time, but please bear with us as in the long term it will be much better than at present, much more attractive, and will mean that we have room for graves for many, many decades to come.
For many years the members of St Mary's have worked hard to make the churchyard both a peaceful place of remembrance and a vibrant sanctuary for wildlife. This year we received a “Very Highly Commended” award in the Best Managed category of the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Living Churchyard competiton. The judges commented that it was always a pleasure and privilege to visit, this churchyard has been extremely well managed over a period of many years giving a wide range of habitats with a resulting in an impressive array of wildlife.
Find out more from the Dorset Wildlife Trust website here.
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