Annual Report 2017


When planning activities for the year, the incumbent and PCC have considered the Commission’s guidance on public benefit and the specific guidance on charities for the advancement of religion.
We strive to enable parishioners to explore and develop their spiritual awareness and to live out their faith, by means of prayer and worship, Bible study and ethical discussion, and provision of pastoral care to all sections of the community.
The work of all three churches is summarised on the parish website,

The PCC aims to provide public worship appropriate to the varied needs of the inhabitants of the Ecclesiastical Parish.
Where practical this includes ecumenical cooperation with the local Baptist congregation and members of other Christian denominations living in Wilton.

The clergy seek to respond to all requests for the “Occasional offices” of the Church – Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals from those living in the Ecclesiastical parish, or with a legitimate connection with any of our churches and to provide appropriate preparation and pastoral care.

We seek to foster a sense of community within the town of Wilton through the provision of social activities and active involvement in other local organisations.

To facilitate this work, we strive to maintain the fabric of our church buildings and meeting room in good order – taking due note of the recommendations included in our Quinquennial Inspections.

In December 2009 it was agreed that the PCC would discontinue its policy of making annual grants to specific charities and would instead encourage individual Church-members to support such charities as far as they are able. In addition, the PCC nominates a monthly/quarterly Charity – for which donations are invited at Coffee after the principal Eucharist each Sunday – with a balance of local, national and international charities. In addition Wilton’s congregations continue to sponsor the education of Richnaider Paul, in Haiti – through the Charity “SOS Children’s Villages” and, through Chalke Deanery, agricultural and social projects in the Diocese of Cueibet, South Sudan.

The PCC makes provision for regular public worship in all three churches, as well as a Trust-owned Chapel in Wilton.
At the Parish Church, Morning Prayer was said Monday – Saturday and on Sundays either one or two celebrations of the Eucharist have been held.

At St. Peter’s Church, Fugglestone, regular services were suspended from the end of September 2013 due to lack of heating and lighting. Thursday morning Communion services were introduced in 2016 and these were continued in 2017, along with occasional Evening services. These attracted a small but committed congregation, including some of the new residents of the “Wilton Hill” development.

At St Catherine’s Church, Netherhampton weekly morning services were held – alternating between Holy Communion and Matins. The Congregation were saddened by the death, in April, 2017, of The Revd Sue Porter, who had continued to lead services until the previous month. Canon Stella Collins and Revd Ronald Broadbent, who had previously assisted at St. Catherine’s, also died in 2017.
Parish Clergy continued to be assisted by two Lay Worship Leaders, Christine Lawson and Tim Purchase, and by the retired clergy – notably Canon Chris Savage and Canon Michael Goater.

The Revd. Janet Mugridge continued to play a significant role at St. John’s Priory and to assist at the Parish Church.

In July, The Revd. Caroline Titley was Ordained Deacon and licensed as Assistant Curate – working in the Parish on three days per work plus Sundays.

In our aim of drawing parishioners, and others, to God through worship
we have again benefitted enormously from the commitment of our Parish Choir, Organists, Ringers, Verger and Altar servers, Eucharistic Assistants, Lectors and Intercessors and have been very well supported by our Churchwardens, Sacristans, Flower Arrangers and team of sidesmen and women – all of whom show admirable dedication.

Two Mothers’ Union Groups and the men’s group, “Grapevine”, continued to meet regularly, as did the Bible Reading group established in 2016. A Study course on “Worship” and a successful Lent Course were also held. In the Autumn, two separate evening groups were established – using material from “The Emmaus Course”.

Early in 2017, a decision was taken to move the Tuesday morning “Coffee Corner”, from the Parish Church to the Community Centre – which was felt to be warmer and safer for young children at play, and also provided opportunity to use the enclosed outdoor garden. Attendance proved variable, but a good number of children and carers visited during the year.

The Ecumenical “Open the Book” team continued to meet in the Primary School, on alternate Mondays, to present dramatised Bible Stories and engaging the pupils and staff in various ways.

The Parish’s Safeguarding policy was re-adopted, pending revision in line with changing Legislation and the 2016 Health and Safety Policy retained.

In March the first “Triennial Inspection” was conducted by the Archdeacon of Sarum, Ven. Alan Jeans, resulting in only minor recommendations and a requirement for updating of Graveyard plans and a proper legal agreement for the leasing of land adjacent to 29 West Street, Wilton.

In January the Parish Church hosted a meeting of the Deanery “Pulse Camp” – attended by 19 young people aged 11 – 17 from various Christian denominations. The summer camp in July was held in a new location – the Hampshire Christian Trust, at Lockerly – in order to cater for larger numbers of young people, with over 70 attendees, including 6 from Wilton Parish Church.
A change in Deanery personnel, and also the increase in scale, prompted a request to bring the Pulse Camp accounts under the control of Wilton Parish.
The PCC agreed in principle, subject to the Parish Treasurer’s approval, after seeing the “Pulse” accounts.

“The Hermitage Ensemble” – singers from St. Petersburg – returned to the Parish Church in March for a concert of Sacred and Secular music, attracting a large audience and staying overnight with members of the congregation.

In April, the Parish Church hosted the Salisbury Branch of the Prayer Book Society, for their AGM and Evensong.

The Parish Church was closed/partially closed for a number of weeks in April and May as urgent Electrical repairs and (unexpected) emergency repairs to the gas main and flooring were undertaken.
In May, the Bishop of Ramsbury, Rt. Revd. Dr. Edward Condry, presided at a service of Confirmation in the Parish Church. 5 adults and 8 young people from our own congregation were Confirmed – the largest group for 25 years.

Also in May, the Parish Church hosted the “Visitation Service” at which more than a hundred Churchwardens were commissioned for the following year. As well as the warmth of welcome, the Archdeacon commented on the quality of the organist and choir and thanked them for their contribution.

The Archdeacon returned in July, to Commission our two Lay Worship Leaders, and also in October to lead the Principal Eucharist for the Feast of Christ the King.

Services for Holy Week and Easter followed the comprehensive pattern established in 2015, following a major review. These were well attended, as was the Ecumenical “walk of witness” on Good Friday, although it was again noted that many regular members of the Congregation were away for the holidays, leaving the remaining core to minister to a large number of visitors.

In early September all three of our Churches welcomed participants in the Wiltshire Historic Churches Ride and Stride.

Mid-September brought a visit from Glass Specialist, Pascale Lemaitre, from Paris – recording detail from the windows in the Parish Church’s main Apse – in the hope of recreating some of the panels originally from the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

Parish Share continued to pose a serious challenge to the mission and ministry of the local church. After the annual APCM four parishioners volunteered to form a “Finance Group” to scrutinise Diocesan Spending and the fairness of what parishes were being asked to find. The PCC recognised the need for ongoing promotion of Stewardship matters and also the need to press for the greatest possible clarity and accountability in Diocesan and National Church Budgets.

More happily the Treasurer announced that Wilton Church had been left a generous bequest of £160,000 – from the estate of the late Gwen Filbee – which, subject to certain “provisos”, could provide valuable opportunities to strengthen the PCC’s work.

Pastoral Offices

In 2017, parish clergy officiated at 19 baptisms, 12 weddings and 17 funerals.
(In 2016 – 25 baptisms, 9 weddings and 8 funerals.)


Members of all three churches are involved in other community groups and organisations – including Wilton Community Centre, Public Library, Burnbake Trust, Alabaré, Riding for the Disabled and also assist with events such as the Christmas Day lunch for the elderly. A number of church-members are Trustees for almshouses at St John’s Priory and St Giles’ Hospital and for three separate Educational Trusts. In addition to the Rector, the Parish Church provided two Foundation Governors and two other Governors at Wilton and Barford School.

As Trustees of the Wilton Middle School Educational Trust, the Rector and Churchwardens contributed further significant grants to local schools, the Youth Centre in Wilton, Youth Action Wiltshire (for work with Young Carers) and provided assistance to one mature Student in financial difficulty. The Rector continued to attend monthly meetings of the Wilton “Town Team” and to represent Wilton at Area Board “Youth Network” meetings.

Educational visits to and services in both the Parish Church and St Catherine’s Church have been arranged – with the local Primary schools and nursery schools and with the local “uniformed youth organisations”.

A steady flow of tourists and pilgrims visited throughout much of the year, although the disruption of closure I the early Summer proved disruptive – not least for the dedicated group of “church guides”.

In April the District Scouts Association again held their annual St. George’s Day Parade and Service at Wilton. Attendance was lower than in 2016, due to the fact that St George’s Day fell during school holidays. Around 300 participants joined in the Parade and Service, followed by a bonfire, picnic and games on the Rectory Meadow.

The Parish Church’s Summer Festival was replaced by a three-day Flower Festival, celebrating 40 Years of the Bemerton Flower Group.

Wilton’s “Mayor’s Sunday” was held on 17th September, the nearest Sunday to St Edith’s Day,

Remembrance services were well attended in both St. Catherine’s and the Parish Church, and a sizeable congregation gathered at the War memorial on Armistice Day for a short Act of Remembrance.

An appeal to villagers, ahead of St. Catherine’s Patronal Service in November, elicited a generous response of around £6,000.

Wilton’s annual “lighting of the Christmas Tree and children’s Nativity” provided further opportunities for ecumenical cooperation and for partnership with other Town Team organisations. New costumes were provided by donations from the Order of Foresters and the Wilton Christian Fellowship, enabling a far larger “cast” to be drawn from the Primary School.

The County Carol Service was held in the Parish Church, on St. Nicholas’ Day (6th December) – with the Bishop of Salisbury as preacher and a large and appreciative congregation.

In the Rector’s absence, the Curate and Baptist Pastor officiated at the annual Carol Service for the Pembroke Centre (Riding for the Disabled).

The Primary School Carol Service, in the Parish Church, marked not only the end of term but the end of the Jan Nock’s ten years as Head, and also of Claire Rendall’s time as RE coordinator and Worship leader. The service was prepared and delivered by staff and pupils.

The Christmas Fayre was again held in the Community Centre, with a similar format to previous years. Despite a cold start to the day, attendance was good – thanks in part to church-members delivering “flyers” to local residents, and to the offer of transport to elderly residents living along The Avenue – thanks to the loan of the Scouts’ minibus.

An ecumenical group of Carol Singers serenaded residents at Olivier Place and discussions ensured about the possibility of further events in the communal area.

“Welcome” leaflets were delivered to all new houses and apartments before Easter.

For the second time in 18 months the Editor of the Parish news stepped down with no obvious successor. It was decided at the November PCC to discontinue the “magazine” format and to produce a slimmer “Newsletter” which could be produced more easily and more cheaply. It was further agreed that this would be delivered free to all households in the parish on a quarterly basis.


St. Mary and St. Nicholas’ Church:
The Town Council continued to arrange the grass cutting, and other aspects of the churchyard continued to be maintained to a high standard, largely due to the efforts of Nick Barsby, Neill O’Connor and David Fraser.
A Large Corsican Pine tree, which had been struck by lightning in 2016, was deemed to be unsafe. This was reduced in November to leave a 20 foot “monolith”.
Two local craftsmen were entrusted with salvaging some of the wood taken down with the aim of producing objects for sale in due course.
A feasibility study was also undertaken as to whether the church’s current lighting system could be adapted to house LED bulbs throughout. In December two sample fittings were trialled and the electrician was asked to draw up detailed specifications for the Archdeacon’s approval.


St. Catherine’s Church
A new 3-phase electrical supply was installed and heaters were replaced.
The War Graves’ Commission identified two graves in the Churchyard and asked to install a commemorative plaque.

St. Peter’s Church
The heating was overhauled and certified safe for use, enabling services to be held during a greater portion of the year.
The lighting remains unsafe to use, however, and awaits further restoration of the building.
The churchyard continues to be maintained – with the assistance of Andy Hogan – and remains open for burials.


Snow Vision

Sermon preached on 4th March 2018

This morning I’m going to speak about “snowflakes” – both the literal kind, that clump to gather to turn our world white, and the human kind – “snowflakes” in the modern sense of people who can’t stand any criticism, or even being exposed to strong views with which they disagree, who need to be warned in advance if a particular talk or film might contain themes of an upsetting nature.

I’m not sure who first used the term “snowflake” to apply to a person – or quite what they had in mind – but there are perhaps two ways in which human and “literal” snowflakes are similar – just one strong blast of heat and they simply dissolve; and, clump enough of them together and they can very effectively distort reality.

Beginning then with actual, fluffy white bits of snow, and on Wednesday morning I heard a new phrase on the weather forecaster when the presenter spoke of a pestering of snowflakes”. I’ve heard phrases before like “persistent rainfall”, but a “pestering of snowflakes” had a slightly poetic ring to it.
Over the next two days, of course, much of the country has seen rather more than a pestering of snowflakes – with heavy falls and drifts of snow in many places.
And it’s remarkable how quickly the landscape changes. From the warmth of our homes, looking out – the pristine white that covers the ground can seem very beautiful, adding a brightness to the sky, after weeks of soggy greyness, and bringing our surroundings into sharper focus – making everything seem fresh and clean.

Out in the countryside, however, the snow-covered landscape can feel rather bleak – threatening even.
It’s often no longer easy to tell where the road surface ends and the roadside ditch begins.
One wrong turn and you find yourself well and truly stuck, and feeling a long way from any human help.

And it seems to me that the snow-laden experience of the past few days provides us with a good image for Lent.

This is the time when we are called to change the “landscape” of our own lives, just as Jesus took himself into the wilderness – enduring heat rather than bitter cold – away from familiar routines, familiar faces, away from his usual means of support.
During Lent we are meant to echo that wilderness experience to some extent, in order to bring into sharper focus our lives and our dependency on God, rather than the frills and distractions of human society.

For me, not being able to wander off somewhere for 6 weeks, the only way of refocussing that I could think of was to limit my reliance on technology – and I decided not to check emails either before 9am or after 9pm: to spend half of each 24 hours ignoring the annoying ping on the phone and keeping my attention on something else instead.

The effects of that MAY be that some of you will wait slightly longer for a response to your messages – but it also means, hopefully, that when you do hear from me it will be better thought out and at a more social hour.
For me, not being in thrall to the email means beginning the day with a little more time for the things I’d normally rush through without thinking, and ending the day without quite so many ideas jumbling around in my brain.
I think I might just keep this up when Lent is over!

Part of our “collective refocussing” here, each Lent, is the installation of the Stations of the Cross – I never get used to how different the church feels the first time I walk in and see them each Lent.

Like the snowfall, they change feel of our surroundings – perhaps making our church seem even more Italianate.
Those symbols of Christ’s passion – of the Way of the Cross – help to point us beyond the noticeboards and notices of our activities – and to remind us of Christ’s presence in his temple.

And, again like the snowfall, those stations can appear both beautiful and also rather stark
– a reminder of Jesus’ very real pain and death
– a reminder that Jesus knew the bleakness of isolation, feeling very far from human help,
despite the pressing crowds all around him.

The seriousness of Lent, and the starkness of those Stations, point us to what we heard in our first reading -that “the Power of God is Christ Crucified” – a notion which the author himself suggests is a “foolish” one from a worldly perspective.
But I would interpret that as saying that Christians should not be “snowflakes” – in the sense of overly-fragile people.

We should not expect to experience God’s power as a means of keeping us always safe – cushioning us from the harsher realities of life, or as a hiding place from anything that might upset us. (Jesus himself was not spared suffering and distress.)

The power of God is revealed most clearly precisely when we do face hardship and challenges, but then, by God’s grace, find that we can work through those difficulties, and emerge from them with new energy and insight.

To stretch the analogy a little further –
we appreciate the warmth of the sun far more powerfully when we are thawing out after a cold spell,
than when its heat is constant at the height of summer:
it’s in the transforming process – in the changing of the seasons – in the healing of broken hearts and minds – that God’s power is most vividly displayed.

During Lent, then, yes – we are called to look beyond some of the ordinary, everyday things that clutter our lives – in order to focus our minds more clearly on seeking God, and his ways.

And yet, we need to be careful that doesn’t become an escape into fantasy.

Lent isn’t just about making ourselves feel virtuous, or hiding away in some private sanctuary of holiness. Nor should we clump together, like snowflakes, to disguise the realities of life under a false covering of perfection.

If we are serious about seeking God – we shouldn’t be surprised if what we find challenges us, rather than consoles – just as Jesus challenged the temple traders who seemed to have lost sight of what their Temple was really for.

God, whose wisdom and power is revealed through Christ crucified, calls us into the dark places – calls us to notice what is wrong in the world around us – and to use our faith to do something about it.
In the last few days, we’ve heard of some heart-warming acts of kindness – from 4 x 4 drivers getting through urgent supplies and stranded workers; the determination of medical staff walking miles to and from work each day; the Greggs delivery man giving out cakes to motorists stranded on the motorway with him.

It’s that same generosity, that same awareness of other people and of our responsibility to and for each other, that God challenges us to find in more usual circumstances.

Let us pray then, this Lent,
that the vision of Christ crucified might teach us
to see more clearly the needs of the people around us,
and honestly to acknowledge our own needs,
and, in the power of God, to find the resources we need to bring about the transformation that he wills for us all.

The silent “bells” of Candlemas

Homily – for the Feast of Candlemas ( celebrated on 28th January 2018)

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple – Candlemas – and, right on cue, all around us we can we can see the first flowers of the new season – the snowdrops, also known as Candlemas Bells.
And those tiny flowers offer a double-meaning for us – the lush green of the stalks give us a strong hint of the coming Spring, and yet the pure white of the flower-heads is still suggestive of winter snow.
Rather like last Friday’s clear skies – which brought both sunshine AND lower temperatures – Candlemas Bells, like the feast itself, offer us a mixture of hopeful expectation but also a warning to be ready for harder things still to come.
Our service, this morning, reflects that mixture of thoughts and emotions: the comforting glow from our Crib scene has gone, to be replaced by a manger.
And the manger is empty, apart from a folded sheet – symbolising the “bed clothes” which kept warm the infant Christ. And at the end of the service, that same cloth will be refolded and carried to the Cross, as a symbol of Christ’s “grave clothes”, or shroud, and all that lies ahead before Easter.
And so today is a turning point – a refocussing of our spiritual energies – not forgetting the hope-filled expectation of Christmas, but making ourselves ready for the purposeful observance of Lent, just over 2 weeks away.

Today is also a reminder of our Jewish heritage.
Mary comes to the Temple as a good Jewish mother – to present her first born son, – and to be purified, to be declared ritually clean again after her child-birth.
And IF that now seems an odd idea to us – in the 20th century it would have been less strange: you only have to look at the Book of Common Prayer – our church’s main service book until the end of the 1950s – to find an order of service for the “Churching of Women”. And, although, the emphasis there is clearly on giving thanks for a safe delivery, the mother is still expected, as Mary was, to make an offering as she is welcomed back into the worshipping community.
We shouldn’t be surprised, then, to find echoes of Jewish worship and practice within our own traditions: the Hebrew Scriptures form by far the larger part of the Christian Bible, the earliest Christians still worshipped in the synagogue, the patriarchs of Judaism and Christianity are one and the same.
Clearly, we ourselves are not Jews – but, as followers of Jesus Christ, neither can we be completely un-Jewish – still less anti-Jewish.
It’s with an extra poignancy, then, that we find ourselves marking this Feast just one day after Holocaust Memorial Day – recalling more recent history and the systematic isolation and persecution of European Jews at the time of the Second World War.
And, as we know, that is not the only time that Jewish communities have found themselves unwanted or made scapegoats within predominantly Christian countries.
Perhaps this most Jewish of Christian feasts can remind us of our shared heritage, and strengthen our resolve never again to allow the demonization of any race or religion.
At a time when relationships between the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – are somewhat tense, at a time when nationalism and “populist movements” seem to be on the rise – it is as important as ever to assert that we are all children of the one, true God, by whatever name we call him and however we perceive or worship him..

Our oldest Prayer Book contains the Jewish inspired Churching of Women, and our newest prayer book – Common Worship – contains this Jewish Prayer of mourning, the Kaddish, which is in effect a prayer for peace:
Blessed, praised and glorified, exalted , extolled and honoured, magnified and lauded be the name of the Holy One; blessed be God for ever.
Though he be high above all blessings and hymns, praises and consolations, which are uttered in the world; blessed be God for ever.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life for us and for all people; and let us say Amen.



Diary Dates


Weds. 3rd 10.30am Holy Communion St John’s Priory

8.00am Holy Communion St John’s Priory
9.30am Matins, BCP St Catherine’s 10.45am Epiphany Procession and Eucharist Parish Church

Monday 8th The Baptism of Christ

Weds. 10th 10.30am Holy Communion St John’s Priory
7 for 7.30pm Mothers’ Union meal The Greyhound

8.00am Holy Communion Parish Church
9.30am Holy Communion St Catherine’s
10.45am Sung Eucharist Parish Church

Tuesday 16th 10.30-12 noon The Coffee Corner Community Centre

Weds. 17th 10.30am Holy Communion St John’s Priory
2.30pm AGM of Wilton Mothers’ Union Church Room

Saturday 20th 10.30am` “Open” PCC Meeting Parish Church
7.30pm “Pulse Camp” AGM Barford

8.00am Holy Communion Parish Church
9.30am Matins St Catherine’s
10.45am Sung Eucharist Parish Church

Tuesday 23rd 10.30-12 noon The Coffee Corner Community Centre

Weds. 24th 10.30am Holy Communion St John’s Priory

Sunday 28th CANDLEMAS (Presentation of Christ in the Temple)
8.00am Holy Communion Parish Church
9.30am Holy Communion St Catherine’s
10.45am Sung Eucharist Parish Church

Tuesday 30th 10.30-12 noon The Coffee Corner Community Centre
7.30pm Grapevine 32 Waterditchampton

Weds 31st 10.30am Holy Communion St John’s Priory