Local History Society

 Memories - Rev. Geoffrey Carr





Written by the Reverend Geoffrey Carr in 1976.

We moved into the (old) Rectory on 18th April, 1963, from Bradfield, and soon experienced the welcome and kindness which will always remain in our memories of Arborfield. On 11th May came the Institution and Induction as Rector by Bishop Knell of Reading.

Months before this, preparations for the Centenary of our Parish Church had been produced, copies of which are still available. The editor was Mr. A.S. Crosley, and a free copy was sent to each home.

We were privileged to have two Bishops within six weeks, as Dr Carpenter, Bishop of Oxford, preached for the centenary on 23rd June and was photographed with the large congregation (the picture hangs in the church). Everyone was invited to lunch on the Rectory lawn, for which the Bishop stayed: a sunny and historic day. In July, the School produced a beautiful centenary pageant, largely organised by the ever-active Headmaster and Church Warden, Cyril Piggott.

After ten months without a Rector, during which time three efforts to start a youth club had run out of steam, something had to be done for the young people. For a year we tried to establish a Young Farmers Club, but this did not 'take' either, so a youth club was started on Wednesdays, which ran for seven years. The Muldowneys, David Watling and Richard Dowdeswell did valiant work with this. Occasional youth rallies were held at the Church on Sunday evenings, with young people joining us from a wide area. These were followed by spending the evening at the Rectory with much enjoyed singing, discussion and food.

On one occasion, 105 young people packed into our large lounge. I well remember being squeezed in so far from the door that I had to climb out through the window to answer the phone. In March 1975, the famous Fisher Folk Group met us at the Village Hall, which was packed out. The last rally closed the Flower and Music Festival, held last June, when 'Youth's Response to the Archbishop's Call' was very well portrayed by three groups, led by members of our Bible Class.

So many memories .... Sunday School and Christmas parties, overseas students' weekends, (some of the friendships made at these still continue), carol singing and many special Church services; Church bells ringing in the New Year and on Fridays, Sundays and more still for weddings and visiting bell ringers. Sunday evening services in the Village Hall; harvest suppers; concerts and folk dancing; the lively Legion Club and the Remembrance Services; the thrill of Christmas, Easter and harvest; many happy school functions and the new life of the Coombes School. The Village Festival and the Flower and Music Festivals, involving so many; the many links with the Garrison and the generous help given by REME have assisted many areas of parish life.
Before her illness in 1967, Mrs Carr ran a Youth Bible Class at the Rectory, as well as Bible study groups, holding open house, organising parties, entertaining and playing her part in Garden Parties and C.S.S.M. [Church's Special Services Mission - now known as Scripture Union] work.

In 1963, we saw the need for an OAP Club and a sports ground and although we tried hard, insufficient interest was shown - obviously the time was not ripe. In thirteen years, the Village has grown and now these projects are well established.

We had always looked forward to closer union with Barkham and now this has come to pass, as a Church measure, under an Order in Council signed by the Queen in June, 1976.

I could write a book of memories about baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals. At such times, the Rector, the Church and the families concerned become deeply involved and lasting friendships are forged; some drift away, until the next 'emergency', but always the Church is there, lovingly kept and cared for by so many voluntary helpers. Sunday by Sunday, the bells ring out inviting one and all to "come".

The Church's enemies are not only those who have on ten occasions in the last fourteen years vandalised or stolen from both Church and Rectory, but also those who "couldn't care less" about our oldest and most precious heritage.

[Note: In one burglary, the Safe was stolen, and the Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials were lost because these were of no monetary value. The Society is attempting to piece together all the information we can. The biggest gap is for Marriages, from 1837 until 1973. So far, we have transcribed the following:

Banns of Marriage from 1929 to 1975, which lists those who were married at Arborfield, plus those married at the spouses' parish, plus several where Arborfield residents were on the Electoral Roll of another Parish. The number of Banns increased spectacularly from late 1939 as Soldiers were based at the Garrison.

Register of Services, 1951 to 1959 - lists Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals, Interments of Ashes, plus comments on severe weather, which affected Church attendance and in some cases seem to have contributed to the ill-health of elderly residents.

Parish Magazines, late 1950's to late 1960's but with several gaps -  Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, plus some Obituaries. If you have copies of Parish Magazines before 1975, we would be keen to borrow them and to transcribe relevant details.]


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