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|1854: St Peter's,
Cringleford, Norfolk, England
Photo: John Salmon
Peter's, Cringleford, Norfolk, England.
Church of England, Diocese
St Peter's looks like a typical Norfolk church, built as it
is of clunch (irregular clay rocks) and flint. The site of the
church is Saxon, but little of the Saxon building remains today,
other than a few decorated stones set in the walls above the
font and welcome desk. Most of the building dates from the 15th
century, and the south aisle was added in the early 20th century.
There is a small tower at the west end that houses the three
bells. Inside, the church is whitewashed plaster and has relatively
little decoration other than two pictures that hang one on each
of the north and south walls.
St Peter's shares its ministry with the sister parish of St
Andrew, Colney. The website details the children's and youth
work happening in the parish, so probably overall the church
community is reasonably mixed in terms of the age ranges. They
sponsor midweek groups, a men's breakfast and a Mothers' Union.
They maintain close ecumenical ties with the local German Evangelical
Lutheran congregation, hosting a Lutheran service in German
on the third Saturday of each month, and are a member of Churches
Together. Holy communion and evensong are offered each Sunday,
with another services alternating between holy communion and
a family service.
Cringleford is a village right on the outskirts of Norwich,
just off the A11. Depending on which way you're going, it's
either the last village you pass before you hit the open countryside
on the way out of Norwich, or it's the first village you come
to as you leave the countryside and come into the outskirts
of Norwich itself. The name "Kringelforda" is thought to be
of Scandinavian origin, meaning "circle ford" or "the
ford by the round hill." The village church stands on that
small hill, just above the River Yare. The village has grown
quite significantly in size over the last couple of years, due
to a new development in Round House park, which itself came
hot on the heels of the relocation of the Norfolk and Norwich
Hospital to a site between Cringleford and Colney.
The Revd Heather Butcher, rector, was the celebrant and preacher.
Mr Philip Talbot presided at the organ.
The date & time:
Thursday, 24 December 2009, 11.15pm.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
It's a small church, and there wasn't much in the way of spare
space probably around 100 or so people. The church community
at the service I attended was predominantly adult, though that's
hardly surprising at a late night service.
Did anyone welcome you
As I entered the church, there were two or three welcomers/stewards,
one of whom said hello and handed me the papers I needed for
Was your pew comfortable?
It was a bog standard wooden pew with cushions neither especially comfortable nor especially uncomfortable!
How would you describe the pre-service
There was a certain amount of meeting and greeting going on, but it wasn't noisy or intrusive. Overall, I'd say the atmosphere was calm and expectant.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good evening to all of you and welcome to our midnight
What books did the congregation use during the
We were given a service sheet with most of the service on it,
or at least the bits we needed to join in, and a copy of the
Bethlehem Carol Sheet. Pew Bibles were available (Today's
New International Version), but this wasn't the version actually
used for the readings.
What musical instruments were played?
Only the organ.
Did anything distract you?
I was terribly distracted by the fact that the vicar's voice
was very, very similar to that of a friend of mine in terms
of accent, timbre and inflexion. And to make it even more distracting,
there was a degree of facial resemblance as well, so I could
imagine how my friend might look in another 10 to 15 years or
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
I guess the best description would be "middle-of-the-road Anglican" just the Common Worship liturgy performed without fuss.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 The vicar started out sounding terribly nervous, but
that settled down. After the first bout of nerves, her delivery
was clear, and her start did draw people in to what was being
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
For children, Christmas is about looking forward – to Father
Christmas, presents, etc. However, to adults Christmas is more
about recollection. Perhaps as we get older, we lose some of
the magic. Perhaps we've been battered by life, or perhaps we
grieve for people who are missing. It's at these times, when
the excitement is gone, that Christmas carols start to speak
of the mystery that is present in Christmas: "Lo, within
a manger lies He who built the starry skies" seems to speak
of the love, kindness and healing Jesus came to bring. "Born
to raise the sons of earth" seems to speak of a second
birth, and may become more important to us as we lose people.
And it all speaks of the miracle revealed in an ordinary, lowly
Which part of the service was like being in
The first lesson, Isaiah 52:7-10 (proclaim the good news of
redemption), was beautifully read. The delivery was clear and
well-paced, and both the meaning and the poetry of the words
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I chose my seat poorly and was seated at the back just inside
the door, so I spent the service with a cold draft blowing gently
around the back of my neck.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I sat in my pew for a while, then took a few photos. All around
me, people were filing out of the church, so I handed back my
service sheets, joined the back of the queue, and filed out
along with everyone else. On the way past, I shook hands with
the vicar, who wished me merry Christmas.
How would you describe the after-service
There was none, being the very early hours of Christmas Day!
Their website, however, states that they support fair trade.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 There was nothing that would make me say, "That's
the church for me!" nor was there any reason to say, "Never
again!" I guess if I lived in the area, I would probably
look about a bit before making a decision.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes I was reminded why my faith is important to me, and I
was glad of it.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Singing "See amid the winter's snow," having walked/slithered
my way through snow and ice to get to the service.
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