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Village Life in the 1980s and 90s

The Church

One of the ways of funding repairs to the church fabric was the money made from an annual plant sale, which rapidly became well known throughout the locality and grew to be an important source of funds for the church.

In 1994, however, the vicar, outraged at the idea of women being ordained as priests, proffered his resignation. He was at that time covering not only Elsfield but several parishes to the north of Elsfield. His departure was accompanied by the sort of muddle which is sometimes caused by a precipitous decision. There was no Parish Church Council, and the churchwarden lived in Beckley and was unknown to anyone in Elsfield. Brett’s Charity, which was linked to the church, had not been administered since 1974 and the key to the vestry had disappeared, along with the church plate. The parish registers and other church documents were unavailable.

The archdeacon informed the village that land had been located at Stanton to build a modern vicarage and that the house so proudly erected by the Reverend Gordon was to be sold. Fortunately, there were many competent and well connected people in the village, among them Eric Heaton, the retired Dean of Christ Church, who along with his wife Rachel, was living at Tree Cottage. He suggested converting part of the church into a village room, a conversion which would give the village a meeting place and help the church with funding towards the fabric of the building.

The church plate, parish documents and key to the vestry were eventually returned. The idea for a village room at first revolved around converting the gallery at the west end but this was superseded by a scheme to take out the pews at that end, build on a kitchen extension and use the back third of the church as a communal meeting place.

A PCC was formed, the church was linked with the parish of St Nicholas in Old Marston and two church wardens were appointed, one from Marston and Carolyn Brown from Sescut.

The plant sale continued to be a major event in the life of the village. In 1996, it raised £2,500 and the following year when bric-a-brac was added an astonishing £4000. By 2001, the village itself had raised £21,000 and that, combined with the many grants from various charities, led to the official opening of the room on 10th May 2003. Carolyn’s magnificent job of co-ordinating and channelling the energies of the village were rewarded with a well deserved MBE.

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