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|1664: St Andrew,
Aysgarth, Yorkshire, England
St Andrew, Aysgarth, Yorkshire, England.
Church of England, Diocese
of Ripon and Leeds.
St Andrew's church is an ancient building of stone in the Early
English style. It was originally built in the 13th century and
has since had many additions and alterations. Surrounded by
gravestones, it is quite a large church and consists of a chancel,
a nave with aisles, and a Lady chapel. Its most valuable possession
is a huge ornate rood screen, which has been placed at the south
side of the chancel. It was supposedly carried by 20 men from
nearby Jervaulx Abbey at the time of the dissolution of the
monasteries. There is also a beautiful ornate reredos of Caen
stone with a carving of the Last Supper. There are many interesting
stained glass windows and the ones above the reredos are particularly
magnificent. A table placed near the chancel steps served as
a simple altar; a plain brass cross with a candle either side
were placed on it.
St Andrew's church is a member of the Penhill Benefice, which
includes other village churches in the local area. Holy Communion
is celebrated every Sunday and some weekdays on a rota basis
among the churches. They had recently raised money for the ARC
Addington fund this fund was set up at the request of the
Archbishop of Canterbury as the Church's response to the foot
and mouth outbreak. A generous cheque was presented to the fund
director at the beginning of the service. There is a Share the
Light group and a Benefice Peace and Justice group, among others.
The church is situated in picturesque Wensleydale close to the
spectacular Aysgarth waterfalls on the River Ure, all part of
the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is located next to a very
steep narrow road that leads off a main road down to the waterfalls.
Its immediate neighbours are a pub and a gift shop, and up on
the main road there are a few houses and a hotel.
The Revd Canon Peter Burrows, Archdeacon of Leeds, was the celebrant
and preacher. He was assisted by the Revd Penny Yeadon and the
Revd Judith Walker, curates.
The date & time:
First Sunday of Advent, 30 November 2008, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
Holy Communion Benefice Service.
How full was the building?
The church was quite full I would estimate there to be 80
to 100 people in the congregation. I assumed the congregation
consisted of local people with perhaps a scattering of tourists
yes, people do visit the Yorkshire dales in November! There
was a mixture of ages, predominantly 50 and over, and I am afraid
I cannot remember seeing any children. Most people seemed to
be dressed quite smartly.
Did anyone welcome you
A sidesman greeted me with "Good morning" and handed
me a hymn book, a service leaflet and a service book.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was comfortable enough but the kneelers were a nightmare!
Each pew had a communal wooden kneeler with individual hassocks
on top. There wasn't much room, so one ended up kneeling with
one's posterior resting on the pew itself the result was that
the wooden kneeler would suddenly skid forward with a loud noise.
How would you describe the pre-service
There was a lot of chatter going on. One lady two pews behind
me seemed intent on broadcasting to the whole of Yorkshire.
It did not feel at all reverential. However, everyone quieted
down when the choir and clergy entered.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning, everyone. A very warm welcome to our first
service in Advent."
What books did the congregation use during the
Hymns Old and New, Common Worship, and an
information sheet for the benefice, giving details of future
services and events as well as the collect, readings, gospel
and post-communion prayer.
What musical instruments were played?
A traditional pipe organ played very well.
Did anything distract you?
I was rather distracted by the way the crucifer held the cross
when she led the procession of choir and clergy. She held it
at an angle of about 20 degrees to the vertical, which must
have been most uncomfortable for her. As a retired maths teacher,
I wanted to start calculating the moments of forces acting on
the poor lady! I also wondered if I had fallen asleep at some
time because although two readings were printed on the sheet,
I only heard one, which was from the first letter of Paul to
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
I would say it was middle of the road to low church Anglicanism.
The choir of five ladies wore blue robes and the three clergy
were vested in albs and purple stoles. Two lighted candles were
on the altar with the cross, and a large lighted one together
with five unlit Advent candles were positioned to the side.
One of these Advent candles was lit at the beginning of the
service. I didn't see any genuflection, and incense was not
used. The clergy and choir took their places on either side
of this simple altar, facing the congregation, and it seemed
a pity to me that the most beautiful part of the church was
not being used.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 The archdeacon did not climb up into the pulpit, but
stood at the lectern instead. He read clearly from prepared
notes and joked about his journey from Leeds, the fall in temperature
as he journeyed north, and the country smells he encountered.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
He compared the state of the church in the 21st century with
how Paul found the church in Corinth. How can we attract newcomers
to the church if we are always arguing and complaining? He quoted
national statistics saying there were 24,000 stipendiary clergy
in 1900 whereas there are now 7,126 and they have to deal
with 16,000 church buildings. He talked about pastoral reorganisation
and new models of ministry in this changing church. God has
always been with us and is calling all Christians to share this
ministry by using the skills he has given us. Paul found that
the people of Corinth had lost sight, the rich kept themselves
away from the poor and they lacked humility. This was not the
church God intended because in reality it was not the sort of
church that would attract others. Paul talked about the church
of God and had real hope for the church at Corinth, based on
the generosity of God; it is a similar situation in the 21st
century. Paul is sure that God travels with us and will not
desert or abandon us. God loves us so much that he gave up his
Which part of the service was like being in
I always feel deeply moved when receiving the holy sacraments,
the administration of which was done in a most reverential manner.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Refraining from skidding whilst kneeling proved to be sheer
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
One of the curates invited us to stay for a drink. A lady came up to me and it turned out she was the vicar, who had just returned from a sabbatical. She explained that they had put the altar near the chancel steps because when they used the high altar there was too much space between the clergy and congregation. A sidesman also engaged us in friendly conversation.
How would you describe the after-service
There was a choice of tea, coffee or soft drinks plus biscuits.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 If I returned here I would probably worship at this
church rather than seek somewhere new.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. I came out of the church with an inner glow.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The picture postcard setting of such a lovely church.
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