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Holy Trinity, Tattershall, Lincolnshire, England
Photo: Richard Croft
The church: The Collegiate
Church of Holy Trinity, Tattershall, Lincolnshire,
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese of Lincoln.
The building: One of the finest examples of English Perpendicular architecture
in the country. Superb decorative carvings, examples of
medieval glasswork and a timber ceiling.
There is a magnificent east window above the altar, made
up of segments of full window pictures. It appears that
some philistine of a vicar in 1737 complained that the
windows made the church dark. There was an uproar at this
intention by the people of Tattershall, who enlisted the
local boatmen of the River Witham to be their "heavies"
and protect the glass. Unfortunatly the glass was knocked
out under the cover of darkness and taken away.
The church: Holy Trinity is joined with St Michael's, Coningsby; St Margaret's,
Roughton; St Benedict's, Haltham on Bain; and St Mary's,
Kirby on Bain. All are part of the Bain Valley group of
churches. Activities include Bible studies, flower festivals,
harvest suppers, something called a Cameo Club Social
Evening. The church has a reputation for concerts and
exhibitions. A vast open space is used as a café,
open most days. Holy Trinity is also very famous for its
bat colonies, with over 600 at the height of the season.
They often fly around if violin music is played, and have
been known to dive-bomb the bride at weddings!
The neighbourhood: Next to the church stands the 130ft tower of
Tattershall Castle, which stands proud in the flat landscape of the
Lincolnshire countryside. From the top of the tower you can have a good
view of the planes coming up the runway from RAF Coningsby, home of the
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. A mile out of Tattershall lies the
resting place of the remaining wreckage from the Boeing 747 that was
blown up over Lockerbie.
The cast: The Revd Canon John Moore officiating, led by reader Mrs Sheila
Mullinger. Ms E. Knowles played organ and interceded.
The date & time: 5 September 2010, 10.00am.
What was the
name of the service?
How full was
Around 30 people were present. Only part of the church
is used for the service as the church is huge.
welcome you personally?
As I walked into the service part I was greeted by Mr Mullinger,
several others whose names I can't remember but was told. As soon as I
sat down, Canon John Moore came and gave me a very enthusiastic
welcome, and then introduced me to the reader and the two women in
front of me. When the service started I was welcomed by name, which was
Was your pew
The wooden pew was fine. The church has many bats, which are of course
so before each service protective covers have to be taken off. Not one
sight of bat droppings anywhere, very clean.
How would you
describe the pre-service
The atmosphere was of quiet talking and of everyone being friendly but
with reverence. The bells were ringing.
What were the
exact opening words of the
Canon John Moore stood looking at everyone for a moment, and then with
a lovely smile and arms open he said:
"Good morning and welcome to my brothers and sisters in Christ." He
gave a special welcome to the two children present, and then to me, the
obvious stranger in their midst.
What books did
the congregation use during the
I was given a lovely booklet containing Holy Communion: Order One from Common Worship, beautifully set out. I was
also offerred a booklet that contained collects and readings.
The hymnbook was Hymns
Old and New. I was also given a leaflet called
"Sunday Link" with details of services etc.
instruments were played?
An organ. I think it was an electric thing as I couldn't see any pipes (sorry, not very musical!).
It was by no means a nasty intrusion, but I had a Jaws shark try to eat me! Let me explain:
There were two delighful children behind me, playing with
a plastic shark and some other toys. They came and had
a little look at me a few times by squeezing around the
pew. Charming. I wasn't distracted by it, but I was very
interested in how things were done at the altar.
The reader prepared the altar, assisted by a very able
server, beautifully attired. After communion I noticed
Sheila the reader consumned the wine and tidied up.
Was the worship
stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The worship was lovely: more than halfway up the candle,
I think. Six candles on the altar, two at the side. Canon
John has a way about him: he has a very welcoming disposition,
and took his time with his words. His invitation to the
peace was so meant. I was particulary pleased that he
didn't hog the entire service to himself. A chap called
Len was asked to pray the Collect, so there were many
involved in worship. It felt good, and if someone had
made a mistake no one would have minded, and probably
had a giggle about it. The
gospel procession was done with great reverence. I was
having a good old nose as I like to see things done properly,
and it was. In the prayer of consecration the server rang
his bells. Sadly, incense was not the order of the day. At communion a man stood by the two steps leading up to the
altar, and he held out an arm to assist people down the
steps. I thought that was charming and held onto his arm,
just to show chivalry is not dead!
long was the sermon?
The sermon was suprisingly short – six minutes.
On a scale of
1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – I have a thing about the amount of boring sermons
that are preached in churches. So I eagerly awaited this
one. It was preached around the gospel, which was Luke
14:25-33 (on counting the cost of being a disciple), not
the most inspiring of passages. I am so sorry to be saying
this, because I think the preacher struggled with a rather
boring subject. I felt there was too much biblical reference,
and not enough human element in it. Nothing to even remotely
make one smile, or nod, or shake one's head. I watched
others in the congregation and some of them were looking
around them. I thought maybe it was the wrong congregation
for that sermon. Something more personal in its contents
would have made them sit up and listen. I say all this
with charity and love. I suppose what I am trying to say
there was no Oomph in it! Sorry.
In a nutshell,
what was the sermon
I think thepoint was that we must prepare for the spiritual
Which part of
the service was like being in
The server ringing bells. Canon John's persona – his
caring nature and spirituality came through. I loved the
way he spoke about and to the two children. They took
some little pen drawings up for him to look at. He asked
if they were Jesus, and both he and Sheila thought that's
what the pictures portrayed. The little chap said "No,
it's a robot." We all clapped them – they seemed very
at home there.
And which part
was like being in... er... the other place?
The invitation to share the peace was done most lovingly,
but most people seemd a bit uncomfortable with it. Personally
I like to go around at least shaking hands. I didn't feel
I could as a visitor, but then I probably have frightened
them all to death. I think also I would like to have seen
a little more of the Holy Spirit within people. The Spirit
was there but probably hibernating for the winter!
when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was shown to the café for coffee. This is situated
in the back of the church. People were friendly, and I
had a lovely talk with the server. Café tables
had pretty tableclothes. Parts of the church still had
there bat covers on. What a problem. I stepped on, and
then noticed, a tiny little memorial stone to "Tom Thumb"
– it seems he was a Tattershall man. The pièce
de résistance was the very new toilets.
What a relief – a church with loo! Very disability friendly.
How would you
describe the after-service
I an not sure if the coffee was fairly traded. I have yet to taste a
decent cup of church coffee anywhere in Lincolnshire – now
there's a challenge!
How would you
feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
8 – Such a big church, but the worship part has been made
comfortable. I feel maybe it could be a place I could worship in. There
is lots going on. John and Sheila were so lovely. Again, as with all
the churches in the area, I worry about the ageing congregation. Older
people are so valuable to us with their wisdom and understanding, but
how is Holy Trinity going to keep going when the bat population is
bigger than the human one?
I wish them many blessings – they are trying so hard to keep the
church going. Their love of Christ is evident, so I pray he enfolds his
arms around them and keeps them going.
Did the service
make you feel glad to be a
I am always glad and estatic to be a Christian. But I
am also sad that Christianity has that big F word to fight
all the time. I mean "financial". Yes, the service filled
me with warmth and a feeling of being part of something
fantastic – if only things like bats and money didn't
get in the way.
What one thing
will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Canon John's sincerity.
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