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Memories of St Margaret's - Services from 1939 Onwards

Transport was a great problem for those of us living at Warden Hill.  We did not have a car, and my mother and I only had a ‘utility’ bicycle between us.  With petrol rationing, very few people went to Church in a car, and the buses were infrequent and packed.  So, getting to Streatley and back was a problem.  Being wartime, there was total blackout, so not conducive to walking at night.

At church, there were Morning Services each week, with Holy Communion officiated by the vicar once a month.  There was also Holy Communion once a month, at the Bramingham School in the Infants room.  We had to sit on the desks, and a green compressed wad of matting was rolled out for us to kneel on as we took communion.  Because of attending Sunday School, I did not attend Morning Services, but my mother and later with my grandmother did.  Sometimes, they would be offered lifts by Mr and Mrs P G Allder, the opticians, who lived in Grasmere Road.

There was also an Evensong each Sunday, at which mostly visiting Lay Readers would preach.  One, a Mr Austin, would write his sermons on many sheets of paper, and read it out in a most monotonous voice.  Evelyn and I would sometimes go with my mother and sit near the back.  When he preached, Evelyn and I would look at each other and ‘get the giggles’ much to my mother’s horror, but the sermons were endless and we were so bored!  (Take heed all those who preach.)

I can’t remember why but I had been inveigled into playing the harmonium for the Evensong Services as a teenager and did so until our marriage.  I also formed an adult choir who sat in the front left-hand side pews, and we would attempt anthems for special occasions such as Easter and Harvest.  I then got a group of young boys and some older girls to join; they sat in the chancel.  I took choir practice every week at Church, which meant that most of us had to catch buses to the top of the cutting and walk up to Church and back again.  It was quite a commitment.

Vicars

In 1949, the Rev Kenneth Riddle became Vicar of Sundon with Streatley.  He soon chivvied up the people with his out-spoken and eccentric behaviour, but only stayed for 4 years.  His Mission was to get out to the people.  He organised services at a farm in Sharpenhoe and processions through the village of Streatley.  When Churchill Close was built, processions would often walk from the Church and back to the fields through the Close on Rogation Sundays (weather permitting).  In 1953, Rev John (Jack) Spread was appointed vicar of Sundon with Streatley and the elderly and loveable Rev Cecil Toll was the curate.  When we got married the Rev Spread offered to take the service, which we politely but adamantly declined as we wished the Rev Toll to officiate!

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