The Parish Magazine January 2022


Serving the communities of Charvil, Sonning and Sonning Eye since 1869

The Parish Magazine - January 2022 5

The vicar's letter


2022 promises to be an historic year as we look forward to the Platinum

Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. Each of the three communities within

our parish will be preparing for this major celebration and we as a church

will be playing our part in this. In the midst of the bank holiday weekend

we shall be hosting a service of celebration which will involve two public

figures who have worked with Her Majesty at the most senior national

level. Never before has our country, or any other for that matter, had

a Head of State serve for this length of time, and to have done so with

such distinction, is worthy of a huge national celebration.


The last British Monarch to come close to this record was of course

Queen Victoria. Our parish had a link with her reign in that the former

vicar, Canon Hugh Pearson, served as both Canon of Windsor and as

'Her Majesty’s Deputy Clerk to the Closet', a title that might lead to

misinterpretation these days! Canon Pearson certainly left his mark

on this parish, with the main street in Sonning and village hall being

named after him. 2022 marks the 140th anniversary of his death and

I believe it would be right to mark this at his grave in our churchyard

in April. Very few vicars are still spoken of after the lifetimes of those

they served, so his tenure here was a remarkable one indeed. One legacy

that continues today, and indeed thrives, is this magazine, founded by

Pearson in 1869 and he then edited it. It is believed to be the oldest,

continuously published parish magazine in Britain, and under the

present editor it has just won another national award, for 'best overall

content'. Huge congratulations to Bob Peters and the team.


There is a list of the vicars of this parish on the wall in church. It was

a slightly sobering experience to see my own name there in a list that

goes back exactly 800 years. Vitalis is recorded first on the list from

1222, though there were many others before him, but no records exist

before that year. Many stayed for a long time, and some went on to more

senior roles, including Robert Wright, who became Bishop of Litchfield,

and the last but one vicar, Christopher Morgan, who became Bishop of

Colchester. There were a number who are remembered for perhaps the

wrong reasons, including one who went about the parish with a sword

and was known as 'a raiser of quarrels'. Another who got caught up in a

grave robbing scandal and another who apparently wouldn’t leave his

bedroom in the old Vicarage and so the dead would be brought to below

his window and he would read the order for burial from his bed. An early

example of working from home! Most of them have of course served

this church and parish faithfully and their collective legacy can be seen

in the growing and vibrant life we share in together at St Andrew’s. We

shall be marking this 800th anniversary later this year when the Bishop

of Oxford will come and lead a Confirmation service. This will be an

opportunity for both celebrating the important step of faith being made

by our candidates and also for the collective ministry of all, clergy and

laity alike, who have gone before us in this place.

I wish you all a happy New Year!


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