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Annual Reports:

April 2019
April 2016
April 2015
March 2014
March 2013

News and events from St. James Church, Swimbridge

This section deals with church events.
For other events and news please visit the excellent village website:



Unfortunately there will be NO services for the foreseeable future. We have also had to close the church for the duration, even for private prayers. However, our vicar, the Rev. Shaun O'Rourke has set a a Facebook page which will allow you to join him for daily and Sunday services at 10 am. Please look for his page - Mission Prayer Programme and add it to your Timeline.

We have not yet found solutions for depositing items for the food-box, for which there is an increased need. However, the Post Office will remain open on Tuesday afternoons, 2-4pm, though unfortunately without refreshments. We will put any updates about this here. . 

Also, because of the Corona Virus the Swimbridge Q&As for Spring 2020 have been postponed until normal social life resumes. Apologies for any inconvenience to all concerned. Info: Mark Haworth-Booth 07813 776349 or

Reverend Shaun's Newsletters
August 17th July 28th July 18th July 5th    
June 20th June 12th June 5th May 30th May 23rd May 8th

Parish Magazine
August 2020 July 2020        

A bike ride from Swimbridge

Saturday 12th September

For Devon Historic Churches Day
A bike ride to support St James and other Devon historic churches.
Starting at 9.30am we will take a route as far as Crow Point and Georgeham, returning home along quiet lanes, traffic free sections and some off-road stretches about 25 miles or 33 miles - electric bikes welcome. Refreshments (but do bring a packed lunch) and rest stops plus ticking off some interesting churches along the way. 
Entry £5 or if you can obtain sponsorship even better. Forms and more details from David Netherway 01271 830587 or to donate to the event and help our churches.
Current Covid 19 restrictions limit a group to six people from different households and cycling one metre apart, so we will need to abide by this rule and any other current Government safety guidelines in place. We may need to ride in more than one group. 
DHCT Reg Charity 265594

Streamside garden Stepping Stones

Martin Fry and David Netherway took advantage of a nice day in early July to install the engraved stepping stones which are part of the memorial to Anne Hayes. David de Russet's borrowed antique tool was just the job. Do come and have a look.


Streamside gardens stepping stones Streamside gardens stepping stones Streamside gardens stepping stones Streamside gardens stepping stones
Click for enlargements

The Old School Room

The old school roomJust to let everyone know......the plans, details and notices about the project to make the Old School Room fit for the 21st century are now on the notice board in the church porch.
These will provide an accessible toilet and baby change for the Pre- school, church and Old School Room and for disabled visitors to the village. A lift to the Upper Room - which will house the Mervyn Dalling community archive, a Parson Jack Russell display, a new kitchen areas and a repaired roof - will see the completion of the work which started last year with the refurbishment of the Upper Room.
Funding will be a challenge especially with Corvid19 affecting the major Lottery and trust funders ability to award grants as before. But we are sure it will be achievable with the fantastic Swimbridge community support we all know.

Advent candles

Rev Shaun with Emily and Patrick lighting the advent candles at the Carol Service at St James on Sunday 22 December.

Harvest Festival photo by David Netherway

Harvest Festival photo by David Netherway

Harvest Festival photo by David Netherway

The Old School Room has been refurbished

Thanks very much to everyone who generously gave their time and skills to this project - deep cleaning the room, washing the curtains, painting the walls, laying new carpet, installing a delightful art exhibition (25-27 May) and serving refreshments to visitors.

What a marvellous transformation, brilliantly led by David Netherway - who provided the photographs. This will help enormously with our bid for substantial improvements to the building, now in preparation. 

Refurbishment of the old schoolroom 2019 Refurbishment of the old schoolroom 2019 Refurbishment of the old schoolroom 2019
Refurbishment of the old schoolroom 2019 Refurbishment of the old schoolroom 2019
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Plough Service 3rd February 2019

Plough service 2019 Plough service 2019  


Our Spring Q&As are in the Old School Room at 7pm admission £3 (Friends free). Refreshments by donation.

We have a wonderful line up of speakers, to whom we are most grateful. Both Philip and Michael have entertained us before – this time they are joined by an old friend of the Friends, Dr Richard Westcott.

Be sure to keep Thursdays - March 7, 21 and April 4 free for these events!

Please click here for the full information sheet

Further info: Mark Haworth-Booth 07813 776349

Christingle 2018

A Great Christingle, with thanks to all who helped including Tesco's for the oranges. Photos by David Netherway.  

Swimbridge Christingle 2018 Swimbridge Christingle 2018 Swimbridge Christingle 2018
Swimbridge Christingle 2018 Swimbridge Christingle 2018
Click to enlarge.

Christmas Tree 2018

Thank you Bert Bartlett for the tree. We think this is the 30th year Bert has donated a huge tree for St come and see it, lit up and decorated beautifully by a band of volunteers.

Christmas tree 2018 Christmas tree 2018 Christmas tree 2018 Christmas tree 2018
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Remembrance service 2018.

Swimbridge Remembrance Day 2018 Swimbridge Remembrance Day 2018 Swimbridge Remembrance Day 2018
Click for enlargements


Remembrance 2018 Remembrance 2018 Remembrance 2018
Remembrance 2018 Remembrance 2018 Click for enlargements


Calendar 2019

Village calendat 2019The Friends have produced a splendid Swimbridge Village Calendar for 2019. Each month has been generously sponsored by well wishers from our congregation and that of our daughter church at Gunn. It has been very well received by prominent villagers such as Julie Whitton. We hope everyone associated with the church of St James or the village will buy at least one copy - preferably many! £5 each from the Jack Russell, from our Coffee Mornings, at Friends talks, after services when I am at church or just contact me - 

Mark Haworth-Booth

All profits to maintain and improve the church, churchyard, streamside garden and the old school room project and pre-school. Only £5!

Harvest Festival

A large congregation celebrated Harvest Festival on Sunday 7 October and enjoyed the singing by Newton St Petrock Male Voice Choir and Ladies Choir. Over £350 was donated to the Farmers Community Network. A wonderful feast followed. The church was beautifully decorated. Warmest thanks to everyone who contributed to a joyful evening. 

Harvest Festival on Sunday 7 October 2018 Harvest Festival on Sunday 7 October 2018 Harvest Festival on Sunday 7 October 2018
Harvest Festival on Sunday 7 October 2018 Harvest Festival on Sunday 7 October 2018 Harvest Festival on Sunday 7 October 2018

Remembrance in Swimbridge 2018

Remembrance 2018This November we will be remembering that it is 100 years since the First World War came to an end. Since our war memorial was erected in the village churchyard, St James Church and the memorial have been the focus of our Remembrance in Swimbridge for those from our parish and the many others whose lives were lost in war.
Again, this year we will remember those who gave their lives.
All are welcome to attend these events.

Friday 9th November

Swimbridge Primary School year 5 and 6 children will lay a wreath at the war memorial and say a poem of remembrance at 11.00 am with prayers lead by Rev Shaun O'Rourke.

Sunday 11th November

The traditional service of Remembrance will begin at 10.00 am at St James. At the end of the service at about 10.50 am, the congregation, choir and clergy will process out to the war memorial for a short dedication. The names of all the fallen from our parish will be read out. This will be followed by the laying of wreaths on behalf of the church, Parish Council and others. At 11.00 the Last Post will be sounded, followed by the exhortation and a two-minute silence broken by the Reveille.
In the church there will be a display of village war memorabilia and notes put together by the late Mervyn Dalling on each of the Swimbridge servicemen who lost their lives. The church will be open every day.
We are anxious that this special year everyone can remember our Swimbridge servicemen and women. Do please join us. If you would like more details, perhaps wish to lay a wreath or know more about timing etc., then please contact Matt Bluge, Churchwarden on 830 764

Plant sale and swop

Plant Sale and Swop in the Streamside Garden on Saturday 5 May. Thank you everyone who helped, donated, drank tea and bought plants, a lovely morning. £157.19 was raised for St James Church funds. Thanks again - David Netherway 

(Click to enlarge)

Plant sale   Plant sale

Great news:

Post office counter services will be available on Tuesday afternoons from 2-4pm in St James Church, starting on Tuesday 1 May. The church will be offering tea and coffee as well. All the usual post office services will be available, although foreign currency will need to be ordered in advance. 

Good Friday Procession from church to Hooda Hill, Easter 2018.

From Fr Shaun O'Rourke: 'It is always an inspirational morning when the children and families of our village gather together and experience the wonder of the Easter Experience. As 60 people stood on the hill witnessing and praying together it filled me with the hope and joy of our future as a church. Thank you for everyone who took part for those who stayed in church and prepared hot drinks and food. Thank you also to David Netherway for the wonderful photos. 
Easter 2018 Easter 2018 Easter 2018 Easter 2018
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Streamside Garden

Two new very heavy oak benches were made by Steve and Davina Beedham of Swimbridge to replace the originals that had rotted. This was funded by the Friends of St James church, with money from The Tesco Bags of Help grant and from  the fund in memory of Anne Hayes. It took seven friends and neighbours with the help of Janet Patton's tractor  to put them in place in the Streamside Garden (Davina was taking the photo) on Friday 9th March 2018....we hope they will be there for  many years to come.

(Click to enlarge)

Streamside Garden new benches Streamside Garden new benches

Centenary of Britain’s women getting the vote

centenary of Britain’s women getting the  vote

Tuesday 6th February 2018
St James Church, Swimbridge, North Devon.
To celebrate the centenary of Britain’s women getting the vote – The Representation of the People Act 1918.
19 female ringers from Devon turned up to ring the bells to mark the occasion.
Thanks to Swimbridge church for hosting the event.
It was good to meet and socialise with other lady ringers in the area.
Some commented that it would be nice to ring together again….
Text: Joanne Tucker  Photo: David Netherway

Swimbridge Floods

Flooding in churchyard and Streamside Garden after the cloudburst on the morning of Sunday 21 January.
Photos: David Netherway. (Click to enlarge)

Swimbridge Floods 2018 Swimbridge Floods 2018 Swimbridge Floods 2018 Swimbridge Floods 2018

Swimbridge Christmas Fair

The Swimbridge Christmas Fair was held on Saturday 23 November in St James's Church, the Jubilee Hall and the Jack Russell pub. It was so successful that we have already chosen next year's date - Saturday 24 November 2018. Our photos show Fr Shaun O'Rourke with Mavis Bluge and Vera Knight who generously gave their time to help on the fair, plus visitors checking out the stalls, and Mo and Mike Clift who kindly provided the excellent refreshments. 

Swimbridge Christmas Fair 2017 Swimbridge Christmas Fair 2017 Swimbridge Christmas Fair 2017

Memorial Service 2017

Memorial Service 2017Memorial Service 2017

Jean Grant lays a wreath on behalf of St James Church at the November
2017 memorial service attended  by over 70 people at the Swimbridge War Memorial.

Wreaths were also laid by Swimbridge School and the Parish Council

Devon Historic Churches Bike Ride 2017 by Mark Haworth-Booth

Devon Historic Churches Bike Ride 2017

David Netherway and I received support from a number of generous sponsors on a cycle ride to visit six historic Devon churches on Saturday 10 September. Many thanks to all our supporters and to those kind souls who provided sustenance on our travels. It was a thirty mile ride in typically North Devonian conditions – blustery winds, drenching rain and periods of blue skies and bright sunshine.

We started at 9.30am at St James, Swimbridge and reached St Peter’s, West Buckland, in time to join the very pleasant coffee morning at Shirley Parker’s house across from the church. Suitably re-vittled, we set off to Bratton Fleming where the church of St Peter was busy. Someone was clipping yews, another cleaning the windows, and Marion and Roy Ridd-Jones on hand to make us a welcome cup of coffee in their spanking new church kitchen. They told us the heartwarming story of how this new extension to the church came about, with its meeting room, kitchen and two loos (one disabled-friendly). Some years ago the Methodists in the village decided to join forces with the church. The chapel was sold and the money put towards improving the church facilities. As luck would have it, the new owners of the chapel had bought a house next to it and were doing up both buildings to sell on. They wanted to put in a new IKEA kitchen and offered the existing one to the church. Devon Historic Churches Bike Ride 2017It was snapped up at once and looks very smart. Even more luck came along when a congregation member happened to mention to a visitor that the only thing lacking was a good stove. The visitor remarked that he worked at Homebase, who would soon be replacing their display ovens. One of these is now in the kitchen with a nice label acknowledging the Homebase donation.

St Peter’s has also recently installed a projector and a large screen, on an arm that swings out from the south wall in the chancel. The idea is that those who attend weddings and funerals will be able to join in the singing more effectively as the words of the hymns will be clearly displayed. We left feeling that here was an enterprising church that deserved its good fortune.  On we rode to the tiny but exquisite church of St Michael at Loxhore. Pevsner’s guide is particularly admiring of the North arcade’s three bays of wooden piers. There is also a lovely piscine complete with a practical roll of paper hand towel. Unusually, the roll of honour from the ‘Great War’ is headed by Nursing Services and the name of Matron A. Millicent Sargent RRC who served on the hospital ships Erinmura and Vita.

Devon Historic Churches Bike Ride 2017

Our next stop was Arlington Court and our luck was in as it turned out to be National Heritage Day with free entry. After a good lunch in company with one of Arlington’s roaming peacocks, we visited the church of St James. We paused to admire the fine monument to Rosalie Chichester, which features marine shells carved in white marble, who bequeathed Arlington to the National Trust in 1949. We cycled on to St Thomas, Kentisbury and were very gratified to find a tray with a large bottle of water, two flavours of fruit juice concentrate, and cream biscuits. As usual, we signed ourselves in (as usual the only names) on the Devon Historic Churches Trust sheet provided. Thank you, kind unknown person! We admired the old plough kept in the north aisle and the colourful 19th century painted pulpit and other lavish furnishings. And then it was time for the – mostly downhill – return to Swimbridge. Thank you to our sponsors: We expect to be able to send over £120 to the D H C T, half of which will be donated back to St James, Swimbridge. The ride was pretty windy, rather wet and very worthwhile.

Green Team Success!

Green Team Success!

Our project to support the Swimbridge Parish Green Team's work to keep Swimbridge's community assets in good order and improve them through our volunteers has been shortlisted for a public vote in Tesco’s #BagsofHelp initiative! Please vote for us in our Barnstaple Tesco stores during May and June to help us win the top prize of £5,000 to help us secure a Tesco grant.  With your help ... Please put the tokens in the Swimbridge box at the store, and we could be in for a great boost to our village environment and support for the volunteers #BagsofHelp grant. This will support the Streamside Gardden which is very much a Friends priority this year. Please also tell others about the new donations box for the Streamside Garden. Thank you.

Good Friday Procession from church to Hooda Hill, Easter 2017.

Photos by David Netherway and Philip Dalling
Easter 2017 Easter 2017 Easter 2017 Easter 2017
Easter 2017 Easter 2017 Easter 2017 Easter 2017
  Easter 2017 Easter 2017  
Click for enlargements


Cowslips generously given by Joyce Cork, member of the Friends of St James, for the Streamside Garden.

The Green Team planted them on Saturday 8 April and they can be seen from the path beside the garden. Thank you Joyce! 


Mazzard blossom

Michael Gee tells us that the Mazzard blossom in the Millennium Green (an orchard of 60 Mazzard trees) should look good in a few days' time and over Easter Week. He will do a short walk/talk from Willows Tearoom in the main street at 10.30am on Saturday, 15th. 

Wildlife Watch group

Wildlife Watch group

Jack Smith made this bird nest box with the Wildlife Watch group, junior Devon Wildlife Trust at Hakeford Woods.

It is now installed in the Streamside Garden.

We shall be watching it with interest! 


Plough Service

The Plough Service revived in 2016 continued this year on 5 February, with a collection for farming charities. A plough was brought into the churchyard by tractor during the service (many thanks to Mr Bert Bartlett). Our photos, taken by Philip Dalling and David Netherway, show the Rev  Shaun O'Rourke blessing the plough in the time-honoured way, and our Reader, Christopher James, reminding the congregation of the names of all the farms - one by one - in this large agricultural parish. Thank you very much to all who provided the tasty food and drink consumed afterwards. 

Plough service 2017 Plough service 2017  
Church clock repair 2016

Church clock repair 2016

A final thank you note: a framed information piece has been put in the nave close to the door to the tower (see photo).

This marks the completion of the project by The Friends of St James to restore the church clock for our community.

The text describes the repair work, with  photographs showing what was involved - so that no one has to climb the steep ladder, negotiate a trap door, negotiate some more steps and then balance on a wooden platform in order to view the work.

Renewed thanks to all the donors and to project leader David Netherway, without whom it would still be ten past three in Swimbridge.

Mark Haworth-Booth, Secretary,
Friends of St James

Wildlife Surveys

In 2016 the Friends initiated a survey of the wildlife in the parish. This followed talks given by John Bradbeer of the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) and Tom Hynes of the North Devon Biosphere. Two events were organised in association with the Barnstaple branch of the DWT. A walk at Hearson on 10 May, led by Paul Madgett and Mary Breeds, produced a list of over 120 vascular plant species. The survey also revealed the presence of otter, dormouse and badger. On 16 August, an evening at Middle Hearson devoted to bats and moths was led by John Breeds: 27 species were identified. Warmest thanks to Paul, Mary and John for sharing their extraordinary expertise. The surveys plus some photographs are available here.

The next event is a survey of Lichens in the churchyard to be led Maxine Putnam of the DWT from 11am - to 3ish on Saturday 18 February 2017. All are welcome but, because detailed looking with lenses is involved, places are limited: please contact the survey leader Maxine Putnam by email to or phone her on 01271 865 569.

Streamside gardens leaflet

A special 'History and Guide' leaflet to the Streamside Gardens has been produced.

Please click here to see the leaflet.

Swimbridge Open Gardens 2016

Seven lovely and varied village gardens in Swimbridge, St James Church Streamside Garden and the allotments were opened to visitors over a glorious weekend at the beginning of July.

The event was organised by Annette Shilling and Mike and Mo Clift who opened their own cottage gardens. Cream teas were served at The Mill House and the Streamside Garden and plants were sold at three gardens.

Proceeds from the event which was sponsored by St Johns Garden Centre were for local good causes. This included the Twinning Association, Swimbridge Preschool and Be Brave Bears with the principal object being the special memorial sundial for the Streamside Garden.

Pictured in their garden, Mike and Mo Clift hand a tin containing £700 in cash for the sundial project  to Mark Haworth- Booth, Treasurer and Secretary of the Friends of St James Church who are managing this project.

Swimbridge Open Gardens 2016 Swimbridge Open Gardens 2016 Swimbridge Open Gardens 2016
Swimbridge Open Gardens 2016 Swimbridge Open Gardens 2016 Click for enlargements

Pet Service

pet service

A new event for Swimbridge and the Streamside Garden: Rev Shaun O’Rourke led a blessing of the pets  service on a slightly damp summer Sunday afternoon. Children and adults brought their well-loved pets along to take part in this special occasion which is hoped will become an annual event.

The service ended with children holding and releasing Christopher James’ pigeons …hopefully to fly safely home to Gunn.
David Netherway

The Bug Hotel Event

Lots of Swimbridge children (and their parents) enjoyed a sunny Saturday morning of bug related activities in the St James Church Streamside Garden. The day was led by John Hickson in the garden with wire workshops by Ruth Bateman in the Old Schoolroom. Look out for the results of their work in the garden.

Hunting, discovering, studying and making and decorating a home for the thousands of bugs in the garden and just enjoying free event was made possible by the 2015 Prince of Wales Award grant funding.
David Netherway

The Bug Hotel The Bug Hotel The Bug Hotel
The Bug Hotel The Bug Hotel The Bug Hotel
Click for enlargements

The Clock at St James

The church clock is repaired, repainted and regarded. A well-attended celebration was held on Saturday 14 May,  with a fine cream tea provided by Mary and Richard Fardon, a video of the work by Matt Thomlinson - all were in awe at the steeplejacks - a talk on bats (with live bats) by Samantha Pickering of North Devon Bat Care, and a chance to cheer as the clock hands passed ten past three, and the bells rang out too, then Rev Shaun blessed the renewed clock.

Thanks to all the very generous donors, who were thanked by name, to Peter and June Gaydon for representing the family who installed the clock in the 19th century, and to everyone who helped on the day. 

Repair of the clock Repair of the clock Repair of the clock
Click for enlargements

Good Friday Procession to Hooda Hill

...and Hot Cross Buns afterwards in the church

Good Friday Procession to Hooda Hill 2016 Good Friday Procession to Hooda Hill 2016 Good Friday Procession to Hooda Hill 2016
Good Friday Procession to Hooda Hill 2016 Good Friday Procession to Hooda Hill 2016 Good Friday Procession to Hooda Hill 2016 Good Friday Procession to Hooda Hill 2016

2016 Plough Service

plough service

Chris James and Rev Shaun O'Rourke bless the plough at the 2016 Plough Service held on 10 January. St James church revived this traditional thanksgiving service to recognise and support our farming community. A collection was made for the Farming Community Network.
Bert Bartlett provided the plough, which was one of the few departures from previous Plough Services when Sid Bartlett's horsedrawn plough was used. This now stands in the Streamside Garden.
The service was organised by Churchwarden Matt Tomlinson and Rev Shaun O'Rourke.

Harvest Festival

Harvest festival 2015 Harvest festival 2015 Harvest festival 2015

New Churchwardens

New churchwardens



Our two new churchwardens, Matt Tomlinson and Peter Miller, were formally inducted into their roles by the Rev Shaun O'Rourke at the Sunday morning service on 12 September.

Ride and Stride!

On Saturday 12 September three members of the congregation took part in the 'Ride and Stride' event organised by the Devon Historic Churches Trust.

David Netherway, John Hayes and Mark Haworth-Booth were generously sponsored by other members of the congregation to cycle from St James Church to the other churches of the benefice.

They first cycled to St Paul's, Landkey, where they admired the newly conserved Acland monument (photo 1). They went on, sometimes in rain showers, to the Church of the Holy Name at Gunn, where three parishioners were busily cleaning and a fourth doing maintenance work. Next to St Peter's, West Buckland, where a coffee morning was in full swing, enabling the cyclists to take excellent refreshments (photo 2). Kind members of the congregation there added to the sponsorship. The trio then went on to St Michael, East Buckland, which will be joining the benefice at a service on the afternoon of Sunday, 11 October (photo 3).

The cyclists called in at St Paul's, Filleigh and then returned to Swimbridge in sunshine. The ride raised £150, to be divided between the Devon Historic Churches Trust and St James Church. Warmest thanks to all the generous sponsors.

Ride and Stride fundraising Ride and Stride fundraising Ride and Stride fundraising

Christingle making!

Preparing Christingles in the Old School Room

Preparing Christingles in the Old School Room Preparing Christingles in the Old School Room Preparing Christingles in the Old School Room

Christmas tree

As he does every year, Bert Bartlett very generously brought a fine tall Christmas Tree and helped us to decorate it with Martin, Janet, Vera, Mavis, Matt, Ruth and Mark.

Our Foodbank

Also a reminder that we are open daily to receive any gifts for the food bank - a new box has been hand-crafted by David Netherway.

Please continue to support this effort. The church is open >every day with a box at the back for your contributions and
more details of the items most needed.

Christmas tree 2014 Christmas tree 2014 North Devon Foodbank

Repairing the weather vane on St James Church, Swimbridge

The weather vane with its cockerel was taken down for repair when the steeplejacks Dawson's checked the lightning conductor several months ago. It has been expertly repaired and re gilded.
Dawson's are a family firm now into their sixth generation. Ben and Sam Dawson re-fixed it 93 feet above the ground on Thursday, 27 November. Ben's young son aged three will be going up his first tower soon.
The cost of the work has been met by the Friends of St James Church. Swimbridge will now know which way the wind is blowing again.

Repairing the weather vane on St James Church Repairing the weather vane on St James Church Repairing the weather vane on St James Church Repairing the weather vane on St James Church
David Netherway took the photos and provided the article

The Re-dedication of the War Memorial in St James Churchyard, Swimbridge

At 11am on Sunday 10 August, the church congregation, parish councillors and other members of the community joined together for a service of re-dedication. Prior to the service, many people looked at displays in the church commemorating the soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. The main panels were researched and assembled by the late Mervyn Dalling, historian of the village. They are displayed every Remembrance Sunday.

This year they were augmented by a display of memorabilia kindly lent by the Combat Collection at Cobbaton and by Janet Patton. These included the standard equipment issued to soldiers – mess tin, enamel mug and other eating utensils; sewing kit and other tools for maintaining boots and uniforms, plus a helmet, greatcoat, cape and kitbag.

While those attending partook of tea and coffee, Janet Patton played a variety of First World War tunes on the piano, including ‘There’s Something About a Soldier’. The national anthem was sung and everyone followed Churchwarden John Hayes, carrying the British Legion flag, to the war memorial. The service was led by the Rev. Shaun O’Rourke. Veteran Mat Bluge read out all the names on the war memorial. Geoff Dodd, chair of the parish council, laid a wreath.  

The wind and rain desisted, the sun shone briefly, and the service was a very moving occasion. Thank you to everyone who helped to make it so special. The excellent refurbishment of the war memorial will be the subject of a future contribution. However, we were pleased to see Mr Brian Barrow at the event. Through PCC member Nigel Ashelford, Mr Barrow guided us to the source of funding for the refurbishment.

Rededication service, 2014 Rededication service, 2014 Rededication service, 2014 Rededication service, 2014
Rededication service, 2014 Rededication service, 2014 Rededication service, 2014 Rededication service, 2014
Rededication service, 2014 Rededication service, 2014 Rededication service, 2014
Click the pictures to enlarge them.

Gabriel Hummerstone

The sculptor Gabriel Hummerstone, who created the wonderful carvings in the Streamside Garden, is working on a sculpture in memory of his mother. He sees it in part as a Lenten meditation. If you would like to follow the progress of Gabriel's work please use this link:

BBC Radio Devon

Anyone interested in the church and the village  can hear Vera Knight and David Netherway on BBC Radio Devon talking about the Streamside Garden. The presenter was Belinda Dixon. The children interviewed for the programme loved talking about their new garden as these photos show.

To download the show, right-click this link then choose 'save target as' or 'save link as' then, once downloaded, find it and click it to play.

Radio Devon Radio Devon Radio Devon

Swimbridge on TV

Swimbridge on TV

Windfall Films were in Swimbridge for a day with Ruth Goodman of BBC’s Victorian Farm fame, filming for 'The Wonder of Dogs' (working title), a three part series that will be broadcast on BBC2 in August at the 8 pm slot.  A celebration of the amazing diversity in the domestic dog the series which delves into the science and the history of different breeds.

The Jack Russell Terrier was of course the subject for the Swimbridge piece. Based at the Jack Russell Inn they filmed in the church, churchyard, the village, the pub and met some local terriers, decendents of The Rev John Russell’s original terrier Trump.

Also, a working party made good use of the sunshine to give the church shed its first thorough tidy up for many a year. Thanks very much to Anne, David, John, Sarah and Mark. Parson Jack would surely have approved. 

A wedding day to remember

On Friday 24 May our church was bursting at the seams with the many well-wishers who attended the wedding of Mary Sargent and Richard Fardon.
It was an occasion of great joy for all of us and we wish our dear friends wonderful times ahead. The occasion was captured in these photographs kindly provided by Nigel Ashelford. 

Wedding of Mary Sargent and Richard Fardon Wedding of Mary Sargent and Richard Fardon Wedding of Mary Sargent and Richard Fardon

Swimbridge Q&As

Click here for a piece about the first Swimbridge Q&As

in the North Devon Journal: Click the image to enlarge it. (There may be an icon, bottom right, to make it maximum size so you can read the text)

Swimbridge Q&As in the North Devon Journal

Friends of St James, Swimbridge

Mervyn C. Dalling 1 November 1941 - 8 March 2013
John Hayes, Deputy Chair, Swimbridge Parish Council, signing the Friends' Constitution

On 20 February a constitution was approved and the first officers appointed. The Rev. Shaun O'Rourke is Chair, Mark Haworth-Booth will serve as Secretary and Treasurer. David Netherway serves on the committee. Lady Arran has graciously consented to serve as Patron. The aims of the Friends are to preserve, maintain and enhance for the public benefit the church of St James, Swimbridge, its churchyard and Streamside Garden'. Membership of the Friends is open to all on payment of an annual subscription. This should be a minimum of £10.00 p.a. but we hope many Friends will feel able to pay a higher amount - which is left to their discretion. Support from the wider community is now essential for the church to survive but we hope that we can do more than that and help make the beautiful building and its lovely setting even more marvellous. We plan to have working parties helping to keep the Streamside Garden looking wonderful. 

Mervyn C. Dalling 1 November 1941 - 8 March 2013

Mervyn C. Dalling 1 November 1941 - 8 March 2013

On Saturday 16 March St James Church was full of mourners attending the funeral of our good friend Mervyn. There was, quite literally, standing room only. Many knew Mervyn far better than I, but I should like to pay tribute here to Mervyn as the unofficial but very fine historian of our village. He modestly referred to himself as an 'amateur historian' but his dedication to proof and truth was superior to some professional historians I have come across. He was a lifelong preserver of historical records, including all kinds of memorabilia and photographs - many of which he took himself. He generously shared his knowledge and collections with anyone who took an interest. He kindly allowed me to copy important historical texts and photographs.

Mervyn took part in the first season of the Swimbridge Q&As launched in autumn 2011. Alongside John Hayes, Mervyn spoke on the first evening on 'Swimbridge Village and its History'. The event included a slide show of photographs of Swimbridge taken by Mervyn in 1965. No one present will forget his marvellous anecdotes of a Swimbridge childhood in the 1940s and '50s. St James church was central to that childhood and to Mervyn's later life too. On the second evening, Mervyn spoke on 'The Rev. John Russell – breeder of the Jack Russell Terrier, huntsman, founder of Swimbridge School and parish priest here for 48 years (1832-80)'. His presentation stressed the amount of important work undertaken by Russell for his parishioners - Mervyn even gave us the precise numbers of baptisms, weddings and funerals conducted by this vigorous and dedicated clergyman, who was far more than the huntsman and dog breeder familiar from myth. Russell also, of course, founded two Chapels of Ease, at Cobbaton and Gunn, so that members of the congregation who lived far from the village could worship closer to their homes, and he also founded Swimbridge School. It was entirely fitting that children from the school, led by their headmadmaster, Garry Reed, should present a 'radio play' about Parson Jack and the school. They also sang a song Mervyn had composed (to the tune of 'Clementine') in honour of Russell. Then the children did something Mervyn was not expecting. They sang Happy Birthday to him - Mervyn had celebrated his 70th birthday a few days earlier. It is true to say that Mervyn was moved to tears. We shall not forget him. 

Rogan Haddock

Rogan Haddock who lived at Hannaford and passed away in January generously left a legacy of £10,000 to St James Church.
His gift to the church has been very gratefully received by the PCC who have yet to decide how best to use this legacy in his memory. Leaving a legacy to our church is a way to ensure that St James will be here for the community for new generations to come. Thank you very much, Rogan

St James Church Streamside Garden Project Costs and Grants Summary

The vision was to create a public space for in our community and our visitors to enjoy from a part of our St James church yard which had been fenced off for over 100 years.  

St James Church Streamside Garden Project

Development Stage: 2006-2010
Before we could start work all consultation, planning, and other consents had to be in place to satisfy the Lottery for our Stage 2 application. There were fees and some expenses for essential professional reports, design and Diocese, District Council, and Environment Agency approvals.

This cost of about £1300 covered by Lottery and Devon County Council (Cll Edgell) grants and donations and volunteer time.

Delivery Stage: 2010-2011
A National Lottery Grant award of nearly £50,000 through Groundwork UK from its Community Spaces fund allowed it to go ahead. Lottery grants can only be spent on the approved work and claimed for actual expenditure after the work has been completed. All work is subject to strict Lottery procurement rules overseen by our appointed professional landscape architect.

The grant was supplemented by individual donations and many hours of volunteer work by church members and supporters in the community. The overall cost of the construction and landscaping work was £50,352.     Of this some £23,000 was for the new metal railings and public footpath surfacing.

Dedication and Official Opening: December 2011 and June 2012
It was a Lottery condition that there should be a project launch event to celebrate the achievement with our community for which they gave a £240 grant.  This covered expenses, printing and the accommodation expenses for the garden builder, who provided entertainment, and his family

Sustainability Stage: 2012 onwards
To ensure the project continues to serve the community the Lottery awarded up to £3500 (of which £3486 has been claimed) towards specific expenditure. Further grants were given by local funders who wished to support the garden in the community. These were South Molton Rotary Club £250, Barnstaple Bridge Trust £ 1200, North Devon District Council (Cll Lane ) £100     and Devon County Council (Cll Edgell) £750
This funding has provided garden maintenance equipment and training, a shed alarm, a gazebo, the Swimbridge school children’s carved stepping stones poetry project, the leaflets, scientific/environmental equipment for use by Swimbridge School, and will provide school and pre school environmental teacher training and continuing garden community project work led by the Pre School.

It was a condition of the Lottery grant that we employed an independent lead professional for the project delivery. This was provided by David Wilson Partnership landscape architect Peter Leaver. His fees throughout were paid by the Lottery.
No payments were made to the project leader, project members or volunteers for their services.  

There is likely to be a small balance which will be retained in the PCC Streamside Garden account for use for future development, maintenance etc. Full details of the accounts are available from the Treasurer if required.

David Netherway   February 2013

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