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Friends of St Edmund’s Church in Sedgefield want to send a big thank-you to the many people in the community and further afield for their continuing support during the past twelve months
Dr Alistair Irvine, chairman, said this week: “Like many charities, fund-raising in the past 12 months has not been easy because of the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus but we have still received almost £4,000 an amazing amount of money at this very challenging time.”
“People have again been extremely generous,” said Dr Irvine. “It shows how much they value St Edmund’s and want to help preserve it for future generations."
Most of the income results from sales of the Friends’ 2021 Sedgefield Calendar and Christmas cards as well as donations to the appeal for repairs to the church clock.
He added: “The committee of the Friends want to thank everyone for their goodwill and support, and hope the coming year will be a happier and healthier place for all of us.”
At the same time, they want to give the ageing clock a long-overdue mechanical MOT to correct a technical ‘quirk’ which invariably sees the clock keeping silent on its first chime.
Dr Alistair Irvine, chairman of the Friends, said this week: “There is no doubt that the two faces of the clock have seen better days. At present, they look rather sad and we think that the local community and visitors to the town would appreciate our plan to give them a facelift.”
Work on the Victorian clock is part of a four-project preservation programme announced by the Friends for action ‘as soon as possible’.
Also included are repairs to the roof of the lychgate, which was badly damaged by lead-thieves, the installation of safety barriers on top of the tower to enable the reintroduction of popular rooftop visits (currently suspended on health and safety grounds) and major stonework repairs to various areas of the church.
All four will need ‘faculty’ approval from the Diocese of Durham before any work can begin and that, it is acknowledged, could take around six months.
The Friends, an independent group of volunteers whose primary role is to raise funds to preserve the fabric of the church, admit that the programme will severely deplete their financial reserves.
Repairs to the clock and the refurbishment of the faces will cost an estimated £16,000 – largely because of the high cost of hiring scaffolding or skilled abseil specialists. The lychgate roof and stonework on the church itself will each cost around £3000 to repair and the safety barriers will need a further £1500.
But, says Dr Irvine, the benefits of the work for both townspeople and the 500 – 600 visitors to St Edmund’s each year, will far outweigh the expense – “though it will severely deplete our funds”.
He adds: “Like many organisations, we have been unable to arrange fund-raising events this year because of the coronavirus and our reserves are not as healthy as they once were.
“However, despite the challenges facing us, the Friends are very conscious of the fact that their primary remit is to conserve the fabric of the church to ensure it is in good order for generations to come.”
As a result, the Friends are now inviting donations of any size from well-wishers to help with the work.
They can be forwarded to Friends’ membership secretary Brian Mutch at 6 Hasledon Grove, Sedgefield, TS21 2JW, tel 01740 622302, website – www.friendsofstedmunds.org
Distinguished consultant forensic physician Dr Alistair Irvine is to be the next chairman of the Friends of St Edmund’s Church in Sedgefield.
He takes over from media consultant Ron Eyley, chairman for the past three years, who is leaving the area with his wife, Anne, to live in Rainton Bridge, Houghton Le Spring. The pair have agreed to continue their work with the committee of the Friends.
He and his wife, Barbara, live on the outskirts of Sedgefield and worship regularly at St Edmund’s.
“We are all delighted that Dr Irvine has agreed to take over as chair of the Friends. He is the ideal man to lead the group as it prepares to tackle the church preservation challenges that lie ahead”, said Mr Eyley this week.
Re-elected to the committee were secretary Alison Hodgson, joint treasurers Nigel and Lynda Clegg and membership secretary Brian Mutch who will be supported by committee members Ron and Anne Eyley, Jimmy Seymour and Kevan Stevens.
Friends of St Edmund’s Church in Sedgefield are breaking with tradition this year as they plan their annual pre-Christmas shopping trip for members and supporters.
Instead of their usual trip to York, they are offering a day out to the Royal Armouries in Leeds for history enthusiasts or an opportunity to explore the stores and festive sights of the city centre for those wanting to search for last-minute Christmas gifts.
Millennium Square in the city centre has been transformed into a scenic winter village with over 40 traditional wooden chalets selling a wide range of festive products including toys, jewellery, gifts. cards and unique decorations.
The trip has been arranged for December 5 and the cost is £22. Admission to the Royal Armouries is free.
Places on the coach can be booked with secretary Alison Hodgson on 01740 620912.
The coach will leave Sedgefield (outside the Parish Hall) at 9am and will drop off and collect at both the Royal Armouries and the city centre.
Tickets for the special celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Friends of St Edmund’s in Sedgefield, are ‘selling well’, say organisers.
Several founder members of the group will be among those attending a three-course, sit-down dinner in the Parish Hall on Friday, November 15, when music will be provided by the popular Gastric Band. A bar will be available.
Tickets for the event cost £30 and are available from secretary Alison Hodgson on 01740 620912 or membership secretary Brian Mutch on 01740 622302.
The primary role of the Friends is to help with the preservation of the fabric of St Edmund’s Church. Since it was formed in November 1999, members have raised around £160,000 through various social events and visits to regional places of interest.
“We are advising anyone who wishes to join us on this very special occasion to make early application for tickets because places are limited,” said Alison this week.
|Repair work to the roof of Sedgefield’s St Edmund’s Church has now been completed – almost two years after the ancient building fell victim to lead thieves and left church leaders with a bill for £35,465.56
The culprits were then condemned by emeritus warden Brian Mutch, who has special responsibility for church buildings in the parish of the Upper Skerne, as “avaricious individuals with no respect for centuries of local history”.
Specially-coated stainless steel, which is not as attractive to thieves, has been used to cover the centuries-old timbers so that work can now begin on renovating the interior walls which were badly marked by water seeping through the exposed roof.
The cost of the repair has been met in part through insurance cover, grants and donations from The Friends of St Edmund's, local organisations and many individual well-wishers.
The Upper Skerne’s Team Rector, the Revd. Geoffrey Short (pictured) said this week: “Like many churches, we have a constant struggle to meet our financial commitments and it is heartening to see how the local community has rallied round to help us find the extra money needed for the repairs. It shows how much they value St Edmund’s and want to preserve it for the generations to come.”
The Canadian general who oversaw the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons in Northern Ireland, General John de Chastelain, and his wife, MaryAnn, were among the visitors to St Edmund’s Church in Sedgefield at the weekend.
The general is the highly-regarded former chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and one of the key players in the confidence-building process that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. His work led to the decommissioning of Republican and Loyalist paramilitary arms.
General and Mrs de Chastelain, who now live in Ontario, made the visit to St Edmund’s with long-time friends and church stalwarts Dr. Alistair and Barbara Irvine as part of the Heritage Open Days initiative.
The General and Mrs Irvine were at school together during the war years.
Later, General and Mrs de Chastelain said how pleased they were to return to St Edmund’s and to see this extraordinary and historic building again. The General also said he welcomed the opportunity to re-visit the memorial to the members of the Royal Canadian Air Force Lancaster crew killed near Sedgefield during World War II.
Pictured (l-r) during their visit are Mrs Irvine, General de Chastelain, Mrs de Chastelain and Dr. Irvine. (Photograph by Christine Mutch)
The two families were among visitors from many parts of the country who spent time at the weekend exploring the nine-centuries-old history of St Edmund’s and its special architectural features.
Emeritus warden Brian Mutch, who has responsibility for church buildings in the parish of the Upper Skerne and who spent time chatting with the VIP visitors, described this year’s Open Days event as ‘probably the most successful we have ever staged’ but added: “Several people were disappointed that because of health and safety issues, we could not offer trips up the tower to see the views from the roof. We hope these will be resolved in time for next year’s event.”
Heritage Open Days are designed to celebrate England's fantastic architecture, parks, gardens and culture by offering free access to properties that may usually be closed to the public or normally charge an admission fee. The programme is managed by the National Trust.
|The work of nine local photographers is featured in this year’s eye-catching Sedgefield Calendar produced by the Friends of St Edmund’s Church which goes on sale at the weekend.
The slimline, month-per-page, hang-anywhere Calendar includes both colour and monochrome pictures of scenes and events in and around the town during the past year.
People who have seen a proof have described it as ‘just as good as the very successful 2018 calendar” and say it would make an ideal Christmas present for anyone associated with the town.
As last year, it has been produced with the enthusiastic support of Friends’ member and artist-designer Kev Stevens, Principal of The Art Room North East Ltd in Fishburn.
Ron Eyley, Chairman of the Friends commented: “The selection panel had a really difficult time choosing the pictures to use this year. The standard was extremely high.”
The cellophane-wrapped calendars will be on sale at £6 (£6.50 with a sturdy card envelope for posting to friends and relatives) at Sedgefield Show on Saturday.
They will then be available from secretary Alison Hodgson (01740 620912), membership secretary Brian Mutch (01740 622302) or any member of the Friends’ committee.
Profits from the sale of the calendars will be used to help maintain the fabric of Sedgefield’s ancient parish church.
Christmas may still be months away but the Friends of St Edmund’s in Sedgefield are already busy organising what promises to be the highlight of their year’s social programme – a chance to see the massed voices of the highly-acclaimed Inspirations choir and the Royal Northern Sinfonia in a ‘Christmas Extravaganza’ at the Sage.
The annual blockbuster concert on the afternoon of Sunday, December 15th, is recognised throughout the North as a ‘not to be missed event’.
The Friends are keen to secure tickets as soon as possible for a party from the Sedgefield area. Supporters of the Friends will be particularly welcome.
Co-organiser Brian Mutch said this week “At £19, tickets are an absolute bargain - as anyone who has ever been to this annual concert will tell you. It’s a really fantastic event.”
Early application for tickets is vital so that the Friends’ group can be seated together.
Transport to the Sage will be left to individuals but lifts may be available for those without cars.
Further information is available from Brian on 01740 622302 or from secretary Alison Hodgson on 01740 620912.
The culprits were then condemned by church warden Brian Mutch as “avaricious individuals with no respect for centuries of local history”.
Restoration specialists have moved on to the site of St Edmund’s Church and erected scaffolding to remove temporary covering which has protected the roof of the North Transept since the theft.
Specially-coated stainless steel - which is not as attractive to thieves - will then be used to cover the centuries-old timbers
Work on the roof could be completed within a month and will cost around £30,000.
Mr Mutch, who has special responsibility for church buildings in the parish of the Upper Skerne, said this week that work would then begin on renovating the interior walls which were badly marked by water seeping through the exposed roof.
Several church members were keen to see work begin on the transept roof including (l-r) Mrs Brenda Moore, Mrs Yvonne Houston and Mrs Audrey Flanagan
The Friends of St Edmund's Church, Sedgefield, and their supporters had the most wonderful visit to Ushaw College today. What a fascinating place! As well as a guided tour of the buildings and an organ recital by our own Jonathan Clegg, we were also able to explore the gardens. I don't think I've ever seen so many different-coloured rhododendrons in one place. Full marks to the organising team. Pic by our treasurer, Nigel Clegg.
Local photographers of all ages are being invited to share their work and win a coveted place in the 2020 calendar to be produced by the Friends of St Edmund’s Church, Sedgefield.
Organisers are looking for copyright-free contributions to illustrate life through the seasons in Sedgefield and the surrounding area.
“We need unusual or eye-catching shots of local people and events,” said Friends’ chairman Ron Eyley this week.
He stressed that pictures taken by young people would be particularly welcome but that parental consent would be needed if photographs showing children were selected for publication.
Last year’s calendar was the first produced by the Friends and proved a sell-out. Copies were sent to supporters in several parts of the world.
Photographs for use in the 2020 Calendar will be chosen by a panel of church members.
Entries in jpg format should be e-mailed to Ron at email@example.com before the end of June. Young people should identify their age.
Further information can be obtained from Friends’ secretary Alison Hodgson on 01740 620912.
“This year’s calendar raised a significant amount of money to help with fabric- preservation and other work at St Edmund’s but there is still a lot more to do,” said Alison.
Two members of the family who own the castle, Alison Hobbs and Oliver Dobson, led internal and external tours of the ancient building and explained some of the painstaking work now being undertaken to restore the castle to its former glory. They also provided refreshments on arrival, lunch and tea at the end of the day.
Visit organisers Alison Hodgson, secretary of the Friends, and Brian Mutch, membership secretary, described the visit as “one of the most interesting we have made in recent times” and “a really delightful experience”.
During the day, the Friends also visited nearby St Brandon’s Church (pictured) to discover how it had been restored after a disastrous fire and was now regarded by many as one of the most beautiful churches in the region. An explanation of the rebuilding project was given by Bookings Administrator Jean Hodgson.
Alison, Oliver and Jean were thanked by Ron Eyley, Chairman of the Friends.
The next social trip on the Friends’ agenda will be to Ushaw Hall on Tuesday, June 4th, for a conducted tour of the college which has been described as ‘a hidden gem of the North’. It will include an opportunity to explore the rhododendron gardens and listen to a short recital by Sedgefield organist Jonathan Clegg.
The cost (£25) includes welcome refreshments, a buffet lunch, guided tour and entrance fee of £5.00 (the fee can be converted into an annual pass if requested in advance of the visit).
Reservations can be made by contacting Brian Mutch (01740 622302), Alison Hodgson (01740 620912) or Anne Eyley (01740 645854).
BBC Radio Tees presenter Gary Philipson learned about the bravery of Sergeant Frederick Hardwicke (Bolton) when he met churchwarden and membership secretary of the Friends Brian Mutch in the graveyard at St Edmund’s Church, Sedgefield, this week.
The two were examining the memorial to the young soldier who was serving with the VI Inniskilling Dragoons when he fell in the gallant charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaklava on October 25, 1854. Frederick was 21 and is reported to be one of only 20 Dragoons killed in the battle which saw 200 Russian cavalrymen lose their lives.
Gary was at St Edmund’s to report on the new Graveyard Plan produced by Fishburn artist-graphic designer Kevan Stevens which was recently installed in the porch of the church to help visitors engaged in family-history research projects. The original research for the Plan was undertaken some years ago by members of Sedgefield Local History Society.
Brian (pictured left) told Gary how the unusual memorial was erected by Frederick’s friends who state on the stone that he was “beloved by all who knew him”.
According to one historian, the ‘audacity, aggression and ferocity’ of The Heavy Brigade forced a hugely superior force of Russian troops to retreat – though the victory was largely obscured by the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade later in the day.
Frederick is not the only local to have taken part in the Heavy Brigade charge. In the cemetery of the former Winterton Hospital on the outskirts of Sedgefield is the grave of John Nichol who survived the battle and died on November 3, 1893, after serving the previous 18 years as chief attendant at the then asylum. Nichol was a bugler in the 1V Royal Irish Dragoons.
The Friends Committee has arranged a visit and conducted tour of Ushaw College, near Durham on Tuesday 4th June. This will include some areas not usually seen by the public.
Designed by Augustus Pugin and set in 500 acres of rolling farmland and beautiful gardens Ushaw was a Roman Catholic seminary for over 200 years until it closed in 2011. Now run by a charitable trust, Ushaw houses some spectacular artefacts and architecture and is truly a hidden gem of the northeast.
We are planning to travel to Ushaw by shared transport and will be greeted with tea and coffee before a guided tour around the college. There will also be opportunities to explore the chapels and gardens alone. The visit will close with a short organ recital given by Jonathan Clegg in the stunning surroundings of St Cuthbert’s chapel giving us an opportunity to sit down and soak up the atmosphere. The cost of the visit will be £25 to include welcome refreshments, a buffet lunch, guided tour and entrance fee of £5.00. The entrance fee may be converted into an annual pass if requested in advance of the visit.
Reservations can be made by contacting membership secretary Brian Mutch on 01740 622302, secretary Alison Hodgson on 01740 620912 or Anne Eyley on 01740 645854.
Lovers of local history are being offered an opportunity to hear the fascinating stories behind one of the oldest castles in the North of England and a church once ravaged by fire but now rated as among the most beautiful places of worship in the region.
Friends of St Edmund's Church, Sedgefield, are inviting experessions of interest for a two-in-one-day visit on Thursday, May 2nd, to Brancepeth Castle and the neigbouring village church of St Brandon's.
The visit will include tours and talks at each venue and morning coffee, lunch,and tea at the castle.
Organisers believe it will be one of their popular trips and say there is already 'considerable interest' even though the cost has still to be caluculated.
Preliminary reservations can be made by contacting membership secretary Brian Mutch on 01740 622302, secretary Alison Hodgson on 01740 620912 or Anne Eyley on 01740 645854.
Further information and details of cost will be made available when numbers determine whether a coach will be hired or the visit made in member's cars.
The fund to help preserve Sedgefield’s ancient parish church has been given a £400 boost thanks to a couple who enjoy setting puzzles and locals who love solving them.
Friends of St Edmund’s Church say their Spring Quiz Night and pie and pea supper at Ceddesfeld Hall again proved ‘a great success’.
This year’s winners were a team of friends who called themselves ‘The News Team’ (Chris and Rachel Stephenson, Chris and Julia Rowsby, Lesley and Colin Lowe and Jane and Jonah Jones)
Quizmasters Judy and Peter Evans were thanked by MC Alison Hodgson for producing questions on a wide range of subjects which included local knowledge, current events and picture posers.
Members of the Friends are now busy helping to promote a concert of choral music by the highly-acclaimed Sage Gateshead Chamber Choir in St Edmund’s Church at 7pm on Saturday, March 30.
The event is designed to raise money for repairs to the church roof and redecoration of the interior of the North Transept after raids by lead thieves.
The Call of the Heavens’ programme will feature pieces by Bach, Rutter, Parry and Haydn and some not so well-known names such as Whitacre, Esenvalds and Arlen.
Tickets cost £10 and include refreshments. They
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St.Edmund's Church, Cross Hill, Sedgefield, Stockton-On-Tees TS21 3AT
Chairman: Dr Alistair Irvine, Neasless Farm, Sedgefield, Stockton on Tees. TS21 3HE
Secretary: Mrs. Alison Hodgson, 18 Hardwick Road, Sedgefield Co Durham TS21 2AL
Treasurer: Mrs. Lynda Clegg, 16 Hardwick Road, Sedgefield, Co Durham TS21 2AL
Membership Secretary: Mr Brian Mutch, 6 Hasledon Grove, Sedgefield, Co. Durham TS21 2JW