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Church of England Men's Society Banner

In the summer of 2008, George Mann visited our church.  Christened in St Margaret’s, George became a choirboy and was later confirmed here.  George has another connection with our church as his grandfather, Percy Samuel Mann, made our Church of England Men’s Society Banner back in 1948. 

The Banner

Percy Mann was a gold and silver chaser.  He served a seven-year apprenticeship at Comyns, off Regent Street in London, finishing in 1907.  This enabled him to become a Freeman of the City of London.

Percy Samuel Mann

Percy made the banner in a timber shed at his home in the Causeway, Clophill.  It took two years to complete and was one of the largest items that he ever made.  George remembers his grandfather spending many hours tapping away in reverse to create works of art from blank sheets of metal.  He tells us that, “It was constructed on a board covered with pitch and very heavy to move.  Every time the plate changed shape the pitch had to be heated on an open fire or blow-lamp, reworked to close the cracking base and reset below the work area.”

Percy was very skilled and completed many works of art for Monarchs and Heads of State.  George remembers that he made the cutlery for the Queen’s Dolls House, along with various cups and trophies.  He also won many competitions. 

Percy in his workshop

Unlike our Banner, many of the items that Percy produced were made of gold and silver.  Interestingly, they were delivered by post from his headquarters in London.  Percy stored them in his coal fired oven range during the summer when the fire was out and under his bed in the winter.  Nothing was ever lost, although George remembers that his grandfather had a large Alsatian dog chained to his shed for security.

The Banner used to be positioned alongside the alter screen, just behind the pulpit.  On Rogation Sunday and other Church festivities it was carried around the Church and village.

In the picture below, you can see the Banner being paraded down Sharpenhoe Road on Rogation Sunday, sometime around 1950.  The banner is being carried by George's father, John Mann.  Peter Riggs is carrying the cross. At the time of writing, John is still alive at 95 years.  George believes that he is at the right hand side of the choir at the front.  The gentleman in the dark coat alongside the Vicar is the Churchwarden, Noel Houlston.  

You can also see part of the Banner on the far right of the photograph below.

The Vicar is Rev. Kenneth Wilkinson Riddle.

George tells us that Rev Riddle used to travel to St Margaret’s from Sundon in his old Ford Popular car to preach at the church.  “He was a character in himself; he didn’t need a microphone when standing in the pulpit, you could hear him at the Chequers pub.  

I remember on one occasion as a choirboy we were talking quietly during one of his morning sermons.  All of a sudden he stopped, looked round and said in a very loud voice, ‘Silence boys I will talk to you later,’ needless to say we knew what was coming, extra work and more choir practices and a rocket from our parents.”

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