'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menoffagainorrhoea; All But Done

Friday the 29th of June was spent helping Aitch and a few other ladies of Baylham village get the church ready for an open day on the 30th.

I have mentioned before that Aitch is the warden of St Peter's, and has been so for quite some time. This will change over the next year though, as a new 'volunteer' has been found and trained up!

Anyway, it took quite some time to gather funds and get authorisations for a new kitchen and toilet facility to be built. It all finally happened some two years previously... and as the flooring was shifted in order to lay plumbing, there was a discovery.

family vault. The vicar and stalwarts had been aware there must be a vault somewhere within the church...in the words of the report...

Well, you might imagine the excitement, not least for my dear friend, Aitch the Archivist! She produced a lot of literature to display on June 30th, some of it having been researched for earlier openings to the public to view the vault. In addition, she included Acton family history and connections as well as details of all the listed buildings in the village - of which, there are quite a few. It was a lovely array of information for all to enjoy.

Our task on Friday was to rearrange some of the chancel furniture, prepare a table for the display and for the extraordinary array of cakes, scones, sausage rolls; there was dusting to be done, planning for how best to manage 'the crowds' for vault viewing - worth mentioning here that the trapdoor is right outside the new toilet door. Outside, mowing had been done by two of the ladies, keeping as much as possible of the wild-flower meadow, but also attending to the necessary paths for visited graves. Further to this, there was an arrangement made by one lady to label several of the trees of note around the yard as well as paper cutouts of the types of birds typically seen here and a blanket for resting at the best viewpoint over the Gipping Valley...

Aitch, Mrs R the neighbour and myself were over at the church at the pre-arranged time. There was something of a wait for the others to show. To fill a space, Aitch challenged me to play the organ. Now, it has to be stated, the last time I had touched a piano was some 25 years past; and have never played an organ, ever. What was she thinking?! There was no refusal though. Hymn books appeared, lids were lifted, and electricity supplied. Small digression; I tried to find out more about Thomas S Jones & Sons, organ makers of Pentonville Road/Upper Holloway, North London. The only thing of any worth was a connection with a church in Australia!!! Beyond that, not a lot.

Stipulating I would use my right hand only and nothing other than the keys of C, D or F, requests came. All Things Bright and Beautiful for Mrs R, The Lord is my Shepherd for Aitch... repetitions for each verse strengthened my courage and the left hand strayed to the keys, and even the key of A wandered by at one point. Interesting, isn't it, that those things learned in childhood and teenage years never really leave us. Swimming, riding the bike, hitting the right notes on an instrument. In truth, I hit a few wrong'uns, but this only brought encouraging smiles and not unkind giggles. What is more, I remembered why it was I had so loved playing the piano. It was such a privilege to have this opportunity. The organ was installed in 1901 and is definitely presenting its age with a wheeze and crackle, but golly it was a fun twenty minutes!

The work crew set-to and within a couple of hours, the place was looking handsome indeed. There was a degree of nervousness; the thing with villages is they are generally quiet and not much visited. What if there really were 'crowds'??? There were voices who said that around 50 heads would be good.

Saturday 30th dawned and there was a quiet excitement in the air. The official hours were to be 11 am to 3:30 pm. We all gathered at ten. The food table was laid, the drinks organised. There was an awning to raise and table and chairs to take out under it (another scorching day). R had to place her tags around the nature walk, Mrs R and I put up the bunting from the gate and along the path. At this point, I wondered about my decision to not bring my camera... Nope, I have nothing to show you from the actual day. Sigh... However, these beauty shots from when I had gone over on Thursday still bring you a sense of it.

Eleven of the clock came and it went. As did a further fifteen minutes or so... then the first arrivals. About ten minutes later, another person, then another. Things began to feel festive. The food stall was making a good trade, virtually all the visitors wanted to view the vault and hear the story of it and I even managed to sell a few of the local history books. I'd had a quick read and tied in some of the details in them to plaques and markers so didn't sound like a total idiot. The folk who came generally lingered for some time, enjoying the cool of the church as a relief from the intense heat outside. The nature walk was a roaring success and lots of very interesting and cheerful conversation was shared.

There were an awful lot of cakes left - but they got divided up and taken back for families or freezers. The main purpose of raising some funds was served and - if the helpers heads were included - the attendance was deemed to be 49. All-in-all a worthy event. The clearing up after did not take that long, with all hands willing, and there was, anyway, a desire to review and drink in the wonderful atmosphere the event had created.

For me, as a last full day with Aitch, it was triple-special.


  1. I love that second to last photo: blink and you would have missed it! Where would it have been found?

  2. Ohhhh we're late again...mom works for free so I can't fire her but she did have a legit excuse...routine dental.
    What a lovely church and the windows....wow and that floor.
    What time do you expect K10 and Sam tomorrow? Hugs all around

  3. I LOVE the floor! You don't see stuff like that here!
    Love Barb

  4. Hi Yam - love the story ... so so English - but amazing and wonderful they found the vault and that there is quite a lot of information around about the Actons and this will only add to it. That's not bad ... and I'm so pleased the fundraising was worth it. Fantastic little church and so please they've found a volunteer to become the new warden of the Church next year - lovely post - cheers Hilary

  5. Love the floor. Mine so boring...Coffee is on

  6. I love this place... and I can forget all and everything while sitting in a church when someone starts to play the organ... I once even forgot to go to school, it was like a storm what blew through the church as the organist used all registers... way too good to leave, even when the teacher called it a lame excuse... what an ignorant&idiot.

  7. What a lovely church and what an exciting discovery, don't you just LUFFS history!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  8. that front door is awesome... so they were right in saying 50 would be good and you got 49. a lot of work but I am sure you all received pleasure just doing the preparation. the organ is amazing.. did you use your feet on the organ? to bad you did not do a video of your playing.

  9. Wow...What a wonderful event to be a part of! So much history...so little time!
    I bet playing the organ was a fun experience!

  10. I love old churches and the history behind them.
    I can bet the sound of you playing the organ must have
    been special for you and everyone in ear shot.
    xo Asto and Mitzie & Linda

  11. What a beautiful day it must have been! I haven't played piano in ages! I've just fallen out of the habit. I used to accompany my classes for school performances. Ah well. THings change.
    A lovely time you must have had! cheers

  12. Such an intriguing post with all the background photos. A personal vault at church for family members is surely one up on one's own pew. Suppose your Mum was an influence on your piano playing.


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