Following on from Mike Davy’s article (July Buzz), here are some memories. My first is of 1974 when I brought my elder daughter Caroline to the Sunday school run by Rosemary Butler. Living in Torridge Mount, it was only a short walk down the road. I was struck by the friendly atmosphere of the church and its congregation. There were many young families and the Sunday school was full -as was the choir.
The Sunday school had many outings including the summer picnic (usually at Westward Ho! ) The annual Sports Day in Victoria park with all the other churches in the area was well attended and St Peter’s usually did very well. Also the yearly Eisteddford held at the Methodist Church and again St Peter’s did very well winning many cups and trophies.
I remember the St Peter’s Day teas, held outside the church in June,the Christmas bazaars and of course the famous musicals run by Julian Wheeler and Joy Baron; the very first one,David in 1979being held in the community hall now replaced by houses behind the old Boards garage . and the final one in 1990 in St Peter’s Church.
These were really hard work for the cast but certainly paid off as every year the Church was full for the three or four nights of the production. I remember cramming in almost 300 each night for ‘Greater than Gold in 1984. Health and safety would have had a fit. When Fr. Robert Gordon became curate in 1993 we started a St Peter’s social club and enjoyed many outings. Lots of other social events drew the congregation closer together.
Christine Cook started attending St Peter’s in 1956. At the time of writing she is 102! She used to sit in the front of the church with Ida Bow who lived in Mines Rd and taught the infants at East the Water primary school, and Hilda Braddick who lived in Grenville Terrace and also taught Sunday school. She remembers them being very strict but kind. There were about 40 children. Bell Pope also taught the babies in the Old Community Centre and was famous for her homemade marmalade.
I have some fond memories of the church, as my late husband Eddy was head choir boy in 1935/6. Eddy’s brother Steve and his wife looked after the church when they lived in Furzebeam terrace. Our son and daughter were christened there.
I was born in 1936 at my granny’s house in Brookfield Street,East-the -Water and I lived with my parents at Sentry Corner until I left for college in 1954.I attended St Peter’s church Sunday School and services throughout this time.
I remember many people during this time. Mrs Trigger played the organ,her husband was the station master and there is still a lovely black marble grave stone commemorating them at East-the -Water cemetery. Mr Jones,a Welshman,sang in choir with a deep bass voice. Miss Braddick and Miss Bow were teachers at East-the -Water primary school,and helped a lot with the church
St Peter’s was what the Anglican church described as a ‘high church’ meaning it had a lot of ceremony and Miss Bow laid out all the priest’s vestments in a special way which I was always fascinated by as a small girl..Mr Gordon Prince who had a gents outfitters in Mill St along with his wife did a lot of work for the church, and a lady called Mrs Arnold who lived in Fort Terrace washed and starched the choir boys’ surplices each week so that they looked pristine on Sunday.
St Peter’s was a daughter church of St Mary’s, the priests were curates,and I assume the Rector was ultimately in charge. The two I remember most vividly were Hubert Annear who lived with his mother on Springfield Terrace. Mrs Annear wore a lovely bright red coat which as a small girl I greatly admired.
The Reverend Beddows lived in Park Lane with his parents;he was a very kind man.His mother had a very tiny dog which she used to say closed his eyes when prayers were said,which meant of course we children all peeped to see if it was so.
I thought the inside of the building was lovely as a small girl.I especially remember festivals and at Easter there was a shallow metal trough which fitted on top of the font,which was filled with primroses picked in the local lanes on Good Friday. It took a great many primroses which I am sure conservationists would frown on today,but the perfume as you entered the church on Easter day was marvellous. There was a rather odd flat- roofed building at the side of the church,which could have been an air-raid shelter originally,which was used as a church hall for many years.
In 1990 there was a celebratory dinner to celebrate 100 years since the church was founded at the Royal Hotel. Unfortunately I was unable to attend but my mother went and enjoyed it very much;she continued to attend services until she died in 1996 and her funeral service was held at St Peters,which had meant a great deal to her.
It’s sad in some respects that the church is going, but a new life for the site is better than a derelict building,and many Victorian churches have suffered the same fate.
I have many happy memories which I will always have with me.
Margaret Lillington (formerly Copp).