Welcome to our church family. Whether you’re a visitor to the town, or newly moved to town, or a visitor to the website, we hope you will find the content of these pages helpful.
If you are able to make a personal visit to either St Mary’s or St Agnes’, we think that you will find beauty and peace in these historic buildings. The two separate parishes of St Mary’s and St Agnes form a joint benefice, served by one Rector. Subject to prior commitments, the Rector’s regular office hours for dealing with enquiries is on Wednesday mornings, 10.30 am – 12 noon unless otherwise advertised.
There is a brief history of St Mary’s, also of St Agnes', in the respective churches. St Mary’s has a very fine organ.
Our liturgy is varied. St Mary’s stands within the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. Sung Mass (Holy Communion) is the chief Sunday service. Matins according to the Book of Common Prayer is the regular form of worship at St Agnes. St Mary’s currently holds two weekday celebrations of Holy Communion. Other services happen as arranged.
The church choir is central to the liturgical life of our benefice. The choirmaster would be happy to hear from any parishioner interested in joining. At St Mary’s, the servers, who are affiliated to a local branch of the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary play a key role in supporting the priest during Holy Communion service. At St Mary’s and St Agnes’, flower arrangers help to beautify the church interiors. A team of bell ringers ring the bells of St Mary’s for weddings as requested.
Mothers Union: ‘Christian care for families world wide’. Branch leader: Wyn Norton. St Marys and St Agnes MU branch, welcomes new members. For further enquiries, please contact the Rector in the first instance.
- Morning meetings: the 2nd Friday in the month in the Turner Hall (10.00 am)
- Afternoon meetings: the 1st Thursday in the month in church (2.00 pm) followed by coffee in the Turner Hall.
- Corporate communion: the 3rd Wednesday in church, followed by coffee.
- A prayer group meets the 3rd Monday in the month in church for Holy Communion (7.00 pm) followed by a prayer update
Members receive a newsletter from MU within the Mothers’ Union within the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, also a quarterly magazine, Home and Family, and an annual prayer diary. For further information about the work of the Mothers’ Union worldwide, visit www.themothersunion.org and www.muenterprises.co.uk
Marriages and christenings. If you live locally (within either parish) or have local links, and are thinking of getting married in church or of having your child christened, the rector is happy to discuss this with you. For further information regarding the legalities surrounding marriage or christenings in a parish church, visit www.cofe.anglican.org/lifeevents and follow the links.
Schools work. St Mary’s serves Houldsworth Valley Community Primary School, and is represented on the governing body. The organist and Rector regularly assist in collective worship. St Agnes’ associates with Fairstead House Preparatory School. Visits by groups of children and teachers into ‘their’ church for educational or worship purposes are built into each school’s curriculum.
The Turner Hall. Should you wish to book the Turner Hall, adjacent to St Mary’s, please contact the Turner Hall bookings secretary, Mrs Janet Ramsay-Helie.
Heritage funding. St Mary's is pleased to acknowledge initial support from the National Lottery, via the Heritage Lottery fund (HLF), for re-roofing its nave. The project will make the church watertight and functional for the long term. The nave roof is showing serious signs of wear, and needs urgently to be replaced. Development work on the project is due to start in November 2014; development funding of £7,700 has been awarded to help St Mary's progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. It is hoped that the roof will have been completely re-laid by February 2016. The project aims to re-lay the whole nave roof with appropriate slates – some will be salvaged from the existing ones, some will be new Welsh grey slates.