December 20 / January 21 News

Posted on December 1st, 2020

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Arrowvale Messenger December 20 – January 21

Rector’s letter
A new-born baby. At the same time the most fragile and the most powerful thing in the room. A new-born baby can’t survive without help and yet that very vulnerability makes the baby the most powerful thing, draws all eyes towards it, disrupts with the noise of its hungry cries, distracts with its cooing and burbling.
Over the years we are often to be found seeking the ‘true spirit of Christmas’ from John Lewis ads (now an annual event eagerly anticipated) to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (Bah! Humbug!) and sitcom and drama specials. I remember in particular the Christmas special of The Good Life where Margot discovers that ‘Christmas doesn’t come in a box, Jerry!’ after sharing in their neighbours homemade and homegrown celebrations.
At the heart of the message is always the imagery of a newly born child, more than usually vulnerable and more than usually powerful. Jesus is so vulnerable because he is destined to be so powerful. Herod seeks his life because he knows he will come to be the King who rules over All.
During Advent we are, like the shepherds and the wise men, led to this scene. We follow the star to the true message of Christmas which, as of all the Gospel, is love. God so loved the world that he sent his only son, who tells us love one another as I have loved you.
This Christmas will be very different from any I have experienced. Gone are the big noisy parties, the carol singing, the Christmas fairs…. but the love never goes away. In these strange times I am learning that my Christmas will be joyful because my son will be able to join us for the holiday after all, because we will be able to watch the school service online, because we can be grateful that we have the means to keep in touch with each other safely.
Of course we are also keenly aware of the hardships of struggling businesses, of the isolated and the lonely and the bereaved. God’s priority is always for the poor and disadvantaged, the anxious, those who have lost jobs, businesses that are failed or failing. In our love we show our love for our neighbour by praying but also by giving what we can afford, and by being there for the people who need it most.
Take a thought for those and help where you can – donate to the food banks, support local businesses, call your neighbour. The true spirit of Christmas will always shine through the serious and sometimes difficult task of loving ones neighbour.
On the Sunday following Christmas I will hold a ‘Blue Christmas’ service. A service for those who find Christmas difficult. If you know of anyone who would find this helpful do let them know about it and if you would like to be included in the prayer please contact me.
Blue Christmas December 27th 11.00 am


Who knows the name and country now,
Of that rich man who lived of old;
Whose horses fed at silver mangers,
and drank of wine from troughs of gold?

He who was in a Manger born,
by gold and silver undefiled –
is known as Christ by everyman,
and Jesus to a little child.

WH Davis


In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —
Jesus Christ.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Christmas Services

Christmas Eve

HC 8.30 Staunton
Midnight Mass 11.30 pm Lyonshall Streamed

Christmas morning

HC Pembridge 11.00 Streamed
HC Shobdon 9.30
HC Byton 10.30

Sunday 27th “Blue Christmas” 11.00 am streamed from the rectory.
Sunday 3rd January 21 Epiphany service Moorcourt – streamed
The services will be live services if possible but may change depending on the circumstance. Updates will be posted on Facebook and the website.

As you will appreciate, in these difficult times our usual fundraising activities have not been possible. In order to keep our churches available for you when you need them we will be most thankful for any donations you are able to give.

Donations can be given in the following ways;

Electronic Transfer (BACS) should be made to
• Lyonshall HSBC 40.28.13 Acc. 111211170
• Pembridge HSBC 40.28.13 Acc. 71305085
• Staunton Lloyds 30.94.99 Acc. 0114439
• Shobdon Santander 09.01.52 Acc. 54109705

Cheques should be made out to
• Lyonshall PCC
• Pembridge PCC
• Staunton on Arrow PCC
• Byton PCC
• Shobdon PCC
and sent to; The Rectory, Manley Crescent, Pembridge HR6 9EB
• PGS If you wish to join the Parish Giving Scheme please talk to
your parish treasurer.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail do feel free to talk to your treasurers or to me on 07777 692 458. If I don’t answer please do leave a message and I will get back to you.

Thank you again for all that you do to support your church

With my prayers and good wishes


Please contact your churchwardens or:
Rector – Rev. Anna Branston
The Rectory, Pembridge HR6 9EB
07777692458 –

Mrs A Ingham – Reader 01544 388706

Church Wardens
Mr Simon Edwards 01544 267430
Steve Weaver 01544267815

Mrs Pat Addis 01544 340261

Mrs Jacqui Thomas 01544 388471
Mrs Gill Smith 01544 388441

Mrs Caroline Jones 01568 708043

Mr Clive Edwards 01544 388831

From the Registers

John Charles Hill 23rd October Pembridge

Mervyn Henry Lloyd. 24th November Lyonshall

James William Henman 27th November Shobdon

Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends

Byton News
We hope to have our Christmas service at 10.30 on Christmas morning.

We were not able to have an act of Remembrance this year and so would like to remember here those whose names are on the memorial clock:-

Lewis Davies
Thomas Frederick George
James Ambrose Morgan
Allen Clark Morgan

John Richard Stephen Arkwright
Frederick Raymond Brown
Clifford Price

Lyonshall News
Remembrance Sunday
A good number of parishioners gathered outside Lyonshall Church on November 8th to attend a short service and Act of Remembrance led by Anthony Mills who also read out the Roll of Honour.
Although we would normally have been inside the church, it seemed a very fitting and poignant way to mark the occasion amongst the graves on a misty Autumn morning.
Afterwards Anthony pointed out the whereabouts of some of the graves of the families that had been mentioned and people were able to pay their respects if they wished.

Pembridge News
Pembridge Church is open for private prayer in the Lady Chapel. We are also streaming the Sunday service weekly on Facebook or Youtube. If you would like to receive written details of the weekly service please let me know and I can forward them to you by email.

It looks like Christmas is going to be a little different this year and up until going to print we are not sure whether we will be allowed to hold services in the church or not. We will still be celebrating Christmas and would hope that you would be able to join us in one way or another, whether it be by attending a service at the church, on-line or by receiving details by email. Please check the Arrowvale website, noticeboards and the Pembridge Church facebook page for up to date information.

Kington and District Foodbank.
The Covid pandemic has brought additional pressure to this project and so are looking for ongoing support, especially in the lead up to Christmas. There is a collection point at the village shop or please contact me direct (01544 388471) if you would rather. Items of dried produce are always required but cash donations are also gratefully received to top up gaps in the provision.

Tapestry merchandise is available at The Olde Steppes, if you are looking for that special Christmas present this year. Thank you to Sam, Adrian and Zoe for managing this for us. Even though we have had to close the Tapestry exhibition the sale of these items has been on going, which is a valuable source of income to us under the present circumstances.

Shobdon News
In these uncertain times, dates and times of services may change. Please look at our Facebook page for more information. The church remains open for private prayer.

The act of remembrance took place on Sunday 8th November at the War Memorial. Wreaths were laid by Bill Stokes, Erin Stokes, Anne Walker and Charles Lynch Staunton.

We are extremely grateful to the Cultural Recovery Fund for Heritage for awarding us a grant, which will help towards our ongoing costs during this difficult time

Staunton-on-Arrow News
Village Hall News – Dec 20/Jan 21

Event News:
On Saturday 12th December, between 10am and 4pm, there will be a collection for the ‘Hereford Food Bank’ outside the village hall. If you would like to donate a food parcel, no matter how small or large, please come and join us for a homemade mince pie, a glass of mulled wine, and lots of socially distanced pre-Christmas cheer! Leaflets have gone out and donations are urgently needed. The Food Bank [] was set up in 2008 and is a registered Charity [No. 1170826]. Hopefully, we can help to bring some Christmas cheer to those that need it. As an idea, packages could include some of the following much needed items: tinned meat (stews, casseroles, ham), tinned vegetables, Smash, UHT/Dried Milk, sugar, tinned fruit, rice pudding, custard, coffee, toothpaste, soap, toilet rolls and special Christmas items such as, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, mince pies, chocolate coins, anything else you’d like to have at Christmas. The Food Bank just ask that donations are not gift wrapped and that food items are within expiry dates. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you there.

Staunton-on-Arrow WI
October dawned and the hopes first engendered by a reduction of cases of COVID-19 in late summer began to fade as the numbers began to show an upward trend. As we are now all too aware, this increase has been exponential, resulting in a second lockdown. Hope springs eternal however, and our WI continues to think positively, looking forward to the promised release at the beginning of December. This will not necessarily mean that we are able to meet face to face, but with news of a vaccine soon perhaps some sense of normality is not too far off.
In the meantime we have continued our Zoom meetings and much effort has gone into making these as lively as possible. Apart from a subject for discussion and a quiz (thanks to Debbie Stokes for finding a topic and the questions,) those of us that might have been a little unsure of talking to numerous others on a screen are becoming increasingly more confident and, as a result, general conversation has begun to flow naturally. The success of the Zoom Room is demonstrated by the fact that our November meeting, the Annual Meeting during which we elected our committee, was attended by fourteen members. While still below the usual attendance at our village hall meetings it shows that Staunton’s WI is still alive and well, and more than ready to welcome new members.
There is definitely light at the end of this long dark tunnel and when we eventually emerge to meet again at the village hall please consider visiting us with a view to joining as a full member. Visitors and prospective members of all ages are welcome – £4 to include refreshments. In normal times 7.30 pm at Staunton-on-Arrow village hall on the second Wednesday of the month.
There is more information about us plus photos, reports of our meetings and other activities on our website.
Alison Lord: Correspondence Secretary – 01544340256
Vanessa Woodward: Minutes Secretary – 01544388964

Mother’s Union
Report for AGM on 11th October 2020 at St. Peter’s Church, Staunton-on-Arrow

We started the year in April 2019 with the sad notice that both Gwen Cox and Connie Hill had died in the last year. They had been members of the M.U. for many years and both had a strong Christian faith so are now with our Heavenly Father.
In May, we had our M.U. President, Andria Lewis, and Diocesan Treasurer, Linda McKinley, to share our meeting and to welcome new members, Anna Branston, Sarah Westaby, and Kate Rogers and Betty Inskip who had transferred from another branch. There were 15 members, both guests and visitors, present at Staunton on Arrow village hall who shared together the vision of M.U., CIF Modern Day Slavery, the Clewer project and AFIA. before enjoying afternoon tea.
Janice Moore shared her memories of the last 20 years as a M.U. member in the June meeting, before handing over the position of treasurer to Anthea. We thanked her for all she had done and shared a lovely tea in Bearwood Chapel. She left with flowers and the new M.U. Book of Prayers.
In July, a visiting speaker, the Diocesan President from Suffolk, Linda Ginn encouraged us to use our God-given gifts, relating to the parable of the loaves and fishes.
In August we were invited to the Bishops Palace to celebrate Mary Sumner Day, and after mid-day prayers in the cathedral enjoyed a picnic tea on the lawn with members from other branches.
The new theme for the year 2019/2020 is “Building Hope with Confidence.” We met at Ye Olde Steppes for teacakes and discussion, showing off “Twiddle Muffs*” that we had made for those people who have dementia, discussing hospital wash bags and other items that are needed in the prem baby unit at Hereford Hospital.
Sylvia Loader talked about M.U. Enterprises in October and showed us merchandise for Christmas: cards, diaries and calendars among other things. We were able to get a head start as she had just taken over the role from Margorie Hayward. October also saw us offering hospitality to Llyswen M.U. as they came to see the tapestries and had hoped to visit them in kind at their meeting in March.
Due to Sandra’s mother’s decline, an informal meeting was held in November at Anthea’s house, again to share together and encourage each other. The Christmas lunch was a real celebration at Sally’s in Kington and helped us reflect on the year. We do not meet in January, but in February Anna shared her call to the Ministry, which was followed by a Communion Service around the kitchen table, and afterwards we had pancakes, as it was Shrove Tuesday.
Sadly, Sheila died in May, not long after Marcus. They are both sadly missed for their great contribution over many years. She had been a branch leader in Pembridge and a staunch supporter of M.U.
Due to Covid 19 we were unable to meet again until August, where the future of the Arrowvale M.U. was discussed. The possibility of all becoming Diocesan Members would mean that we were independent, with no formal structure, but the Christian message and sharing together on a monthly basis would continue, along with all the updates and information from MSH, the prayer diary and Families First. This would mean an increase to £30 for the annual subscription.
The planned Quiet Day will take place when we can meet again without restrictions.
Thank you to all who have contributed to our M.U., whether by inviting us to their homes, offering hospitality, car driving, writing for the Messenger, working as treasurer, giving financially, especially with the £50 towards the School Bibles, earlier on in the month.
It has been quite a year, with so much to be thankful for; the love, the joy of sharing, the food, the outings to Hereford and Coventry Cathedral, to meet the new World Wide President, Sharin Harper, the encouragement with phone calls, emails, cards, flowers and letters that have brought us closer together during lockdown, remembering birthdays and showing the love of our Heavenly Father in so many practical ways, a true community of believers, growing together.

Sandra Evans, Branch Leader
*For more information about what Twiddle Muffs are and how to make your own please visit:

The Wicked Fairy at the Manger
by U.A. Fanthorpe

My gift for the child:

No wife, kids, home;
No money sense. Unemployable.
Friends, yes.
But the wrong sort –
The workshy, women, wimps,
Petty infringers of the law, persons
With notifiable diseases,
Poll tax collectors, tarts;
The bottom rung.
His end?
I think we’ll make it
Public, prolonged, painful.

Right, said the baby. That was roughly
What we had in mind.


Please make sure that all copy for the next issue of the magazine is with

Jamie Dawes by 16th January at The Rectory, Pembridge
or by e-mail:

for advertising email:

A Turkey Problem – Jeremy Hewitt

December 1948 was the first Christmas at the house that my parents had bought in the Spring. They had been living a mile away at my Nana’s house since the end of the war – a crowded couple of years. To celebrate, a family gathering was planned, with seven sitting down for Christmas dinner – both grandmothers and my Nana’s youngest brother, great-uncle George and his wife Rene.

With the easing of some of the food rationing, a suitably large turkey had been ordered. After breakfast on Christmas day the levels of stress around the kitchen area began to rise, as I had learned to expect. I withdrew to a quiet corner of the house to enjoy a new Enid Blyton I had just been given. After a few chapters I became aware of sounds of panic, verging on hysteria. As my father had been called, I realised that something serious was afoot – he always kept a very low profile over matters domestic. I went to the kitchen to see three adults around the gas cooker, my mother in tears, my father struggling with the oven, his mother tut-tutting away.

I approached to see that the turkey was too large to fit into the oven, both sideways and front to back – the oven door would just not close on it, which my parents were trying to do without success. It seemed clear to me that the large bird would fit if it was hung vertically in the oven. “Just how are we going to that?” I was asked. “By hooking it from the top shelf” I replied. “What with?” was the response? “I think I have what you need.” I went to my bedroom, to my collection of odd bits and bobs. I had found an S-shaped hook on the pavement of the main road from the village some while ago and like most young boys had stuck it my pocket and brought it home without realising it was a classic butcher’s hook.

I brought it down to the kitchen and the turkey was duly hung as I had suggested. So it was that Christmas dinner was a success and the turkey much enjoyed. I never got my hook back. It joined all the other various implements in a drawer in the kitchen.

Looking to the future
As I’m sure you are aware, and at the risk of stating the obvious, times are unusual to say the least. Without our normal services and fund raising activities there has been a dramatic fall in income for all the churches in the Arrowvale Group without a corresponding fall in expenditure. While we are continuing to print the Messenger it is quite possible that, due to circumstances beyond our control, we may not always be able to print or distribute them in future. However, all is not lost as they will be available on the web site. The last couple of issues have been available there as downloads so, if you haven’t used the website before (web address on the front and back cover) now is a good time to explore. With these ever changing times we can keep the information up to date much easier online than in print.
Let us know what you think!

A Nineteenth Century Christmas:
Two Short Didactic Essays by James Dawes

Part One:
A Literary Christmas History or How Writers Saved Christmas

 In order to understand Christmas in the 19th Century we have to go back to the English Civil War. Wild, right? Christmas was banned by the Puritans and celebration of the holiday was looked down on by many priests, even after the ban was lifted following the Restoration. As such, throughout most of the 18th century in England, Christmas was celebrated only by the aristocracy and was not seen as an important holiday either culturally or religiously.  In America, Christmas was banned after the Revolution, being seen as an English holiday.  And so Christmas fell into relative cultural obscurity, forgotten by the ordinary person and barely celebrated.

 Between 1819 and 1820 the American writer Washington Irving published the first great piece of American Literature, The Sketch Book Of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. This collection included five “Christmas Tales” which described old fashioned Christmas traditions at an idealised English country manor.  The Sketch Book was hugely popular in America, leading to a revival of popular Christmas celebration, and was even more popular with other writers. In particular, Irving’s depictions of the warmth and generosity of the Christmas celebrations influenced Charles Dickens’ writing in A Christmas Carol. 
 The publication of A Christmas Carol was a phenomenon.  The first edition of 6,000 copies sold out in less than a week, and the book went through 13 editions by the end of 1844.  As well as the impressive sales numbers,  A Christmas Carol provided the basis for Mid-Victorian Christmas celebrations, influencing the idea of Christmas as a time for family gathering, to enjoy good food and drink, to play games and to have a festive generosity of spirit. On top of the cultural impact of the book,  A Christmas Carol has had a broad impact on the English language. Scrooge is still used as a term for people who do not enjoy Christmas celebrations. More fundamentally, the tradition of saying “Merry Christmas” comes from a phrase in the novella.

Part Two: A Royal Christmas History

 So many modern Christmas traditions are Victorian in origin that it would be impractical to write about all of them in one column, so I will focus on one particular invention:  The Christmas Tree. 

 The Christmas tree is a German innovation, the invention of which is sometimes credited to none other than Martin Luther who is supposed to have placed candles on an evergreen tree, for reasons known only to himself. In the 19th Century, the tradition was brought over from Germany to Britain but did not spread much outside of the royal family.  Trees were popularised amongst the upper and middle classes in 1841, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. 
   There was a further level of popularisation in 1848 when a photograph of the whole royal family stood around their Christmas tree was released in the Illustrated London News.  The same photo was published widely in America in 1850 where it led to a similar widespread craze amongst the American public.  After a brief blip in popularity because of Anti-German sentiment after World War One, the Christmas tree spread across the whole of the class spectrum, after years of being only for the “wealthy or romantic” as The Times put it in 1858. 


 The history of Christmas is long and complicated, but what I think becomes clear having done the research for this article is the genuine human need for a midwinter festival to lift peoples spirits during the most difficult part of the year.  This Christmas will no doubt be a particularly difficult one, where many of the traditions we have taken for granted will have to be forfeited to allow for the safety of others.  However, it’s important to remember that traditions do not come from nowhere, and that the new circumstances of this Christmas provide a perfect opportunity to try something new, and to begin new traditions of your own.  Even if that just means getting round to actually reading A Christmas Carol. Trust me, it’s worth it. 

Merry Christmas and God bless Us, Every One.

A Letter From The Editor

First of all, on behalf of the Magazine team I’d like to give a big thank you to everybody who helped and contributed to this Christmas Issue. In particular I’d like to thank Rob Hollis, the Head Teacher at Pembridge School and all the children for their contribution to the magazine, especially Annie, Miah, Jennifer and Bluebell who provided the pictures that grace the front cover and the Magazine’s website. (Download the full version of the magazine to see them!)
Secondly, our next edition for February and March will have a Spring theme. If there’s anything you would like to send us, please contact me at I look forward to reading your work.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

James Dawes

December Services
6th December Pembridge 11.00 am
13th December Lyonshall 11.00 am
16th December Doorstep Carols,
Look out for invitations on the web site and Facebook page.
20th December Staunton 11.00 am

Christmas Eve
HC 8.30 Staunton
Midnight Mass 11.30 pm Lyonshall Streamed

Christmas morning
HC Pembridge 11.00 am Streamed
HC Shobdon 9.30 am
HC Byton 10.30 am

Sunday 27th “Blue Christmas”
11.00 am streamed from the rectory and on Zoom

Zoom Morning Prayer Pembridge School Friday 9.00
Quiet Prayer Moorcourt 1st Thursday at 10.00

January Services (all streamed except 10th)
Sunday 3rd January 21 11.00 am Moorcourt
Sunday 10th January 21 11.00 am Staunton
Sunday 17th January 21 11.00 am Lyonshall
Sunday 24th January 21 11.00 am Shobdon
Sunday 31st January 21 11.00 am Pembridge

Morning Prayer
Lyonshall Monday 9.00 am
Staunton Tuesday 9.00 am
Shobdon Thursday 9.00 am
Zoom Morning Prayer Pembridge School Friday 9.00 am

The services will be live services if possible but may change depending on the circumstance. Updates will be posted on Facebook and the website.

Pembridge School Morning prayer will finish for Christmas on 11th December and restart on 11th of January