|341: St Mark's, Noel Park, London|
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Mystery Worshipper: Marcellus.
The church: St Mark's, Lymington Avenue, Noel Park, London N22.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: A Victorian church built in 1889 in the Noel Park Estate. The church is of red brick and is a squat, solid building. Internally the east end has an impressive mosaic of saints. There are five bays and small single stained glass lancets in the north and south walls.
The church: A small congregation from a fairly densely populated area.
The neighbourhood: Wide streets with mainly terraced housing. The church is next to Wood Green Shopping City. Parking is impossible on Sunday due to a residents-only parking scheme. There are plenty of parking spaces, but parking is not allowed.
The cast: Fr. Raymonde Robinson, celebrant and preacher. Very much a one man band.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
By chance, today was also a baptism service. The baptism party numbered about 21 adults and six or seven children, while the regular congregation included about 28 people. Except for the front pews occupied by the baptism party, the church was sadly nearly empty.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Due to parking worries I went into the church well before the service started and spoke to the vicar, who explained the parking situation. It also transpired that he attanded my own church only yesterday for our patronal festival. This was a total coincidence and I had not been aware that he was the incumbent at this church.
Was your pew comfortable?
As comfortable as wooden benches ever are. The pews included adequately good kneelers.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
I was greeted by one or two regulars.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The English Hymnal, plus the booklets, "The Eucharist" and "Baptism of Children", and a copy of "Anima Chrsti" for the end of the service.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ. I believe the organist also sang the responses. There was no choir.
Did anything distract you?
An elderly man going down the aisle for communion was helped by another parishioner and was discusing in a very loud voice his plans for the rest of the day.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Slightly exuberant anglo-papalism. The priest made slightly exaggerated hand movements and over-projected his voice for effect. Everyone was joining in with the singing, etc., but it felt as if they were all going their own way.