St Mary’s Advent Trail Edition

Learn About the 2021 Advent Trail & More Updates

Some example nativity windows from last year

St Mary’s December newsletter provides details of this years, advent trail and a Christmas message. It also, of course, has the usual listings of services (and they look forward to welcoming you for their Christmas Services in both the Old Church & St Mary’s), and contacts.

Christmas Message from Revd Heather Wilcox

It’s that time of year, when we are bombarded with Christmas advertising, but one advert in particular has caught my attention, probably because it has generated the most complaints in 2021 so far, the Tesco’s advert.

It begins with a lady standing outside a Tesco’s store being asked, ‘Do you need a little help’ and she responds, ‘Don’t worry my love, this year, nothings stopping me.’ Queens ‘Don’t stop me now’ providing the soundtrack to the advert.

Don’t Stop Me Now

The gist of course is that nothing is going to stop us from celebrating Christmas. If the lights go out, we will light a row of Christmas puddings instead and party on; if Santa’s grotto closes as we reach it, we will bribe the elves with mince pies and when Santa faces quarantine, of course he is already double vaccinated, nothing is going to get in the way of us celebrating Christmas just as we want to in 2021, unlike 2020 when plans had to be changed at the last minute.

2000 Years Ago

2000 years ago, nothing was going to stop Gods plan either. Mary was reluctant at first, to be the mother of the Son of God … when the angel spoke to her, she said,

‘How will this be, since I am a virgin.’

As the angel continued to speak Mary responded,

‘I am the Lord’s servant, let it be to me as you have commanded.’

Nothing was going to stop God’s plan.

After Mary it was Joseph who needed a little convincing to stand alongside Mary and not break off their engagement. An angel had to appear to him in a dream and reassure him that everything Mary had said was true, the child she would bear was really going to be the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit.

And one thing is certain when a baby decides it is time to make an appearance, nothing is going to stop it, even if there was no room in Bethlehem! And so, on that first Christmas night, Jesus is born in a stable, laid in a manger and worshipped by shepherds.

God’s unstoppable plan, God with us. Immanuel

Our plans may or may not change, but we worship an unstoppable God of love, who is always with us, as we celebrate Christmas this year, let us put Jesus at the heart of all that we do.

Happy Christmas and May God bless you.

Reverend Heather

Advent Trail

The West Bergholt Village Advent Windows Trail is back for 2021! A huge thank you to everyone who has volunteered to decorate a window featuring a scene from the nativity story.

The first window will be revealed on Wednesday 8th December and then a window each day until Monday 20th December. The revealed windows will be lit between 4 pm and 7 pm each day up to & including Christmas Eve.

You can download a copy of the map & list of windows from St Mary’s website from 6th December.

8th Dec
St Mary’s Church, New Church Road
God sends the Angel Gabriel to a girl named Mary to tell her she will have a Son, Jesus.
Luke 1:26 & 31
9th Dec
The Rectory 1 Church Close
The Angel said to Mary, “People will call Him Son of the Most High.”
Luke 1:32
10th Dec
1 Lexden Road
Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to register for the census.
Luke 2:1-3
11th Dec
Miltor House, Hall Rd
Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem for the census because that was Joseph’s hometown.
Luke 2:4-5  
12th Dec
16 The Grays, Lexden Road
While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to her son.
Luke 2:6-7
13th Dec
29  Lexden Road
Shepherds were in the fields watching their sheep.
Luke 2:8
14th Dec
4 New Church Rd
An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds.
Luke 2:9
15th Dec
50 New Church Road
The angel told the shepherds “Don’t be afraid. Today your Saviour was born in Bethlehem.”
Luke 2:11
16th Dec
Heathlands School
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked “where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east.
Matthew 2:1-2  
17th Dec
Durham House, Armoury Road
The star the Magi had seen in the east went ahead of them.
Matthew 2:9
18th Dec
62 Albany Road
The star stopped over the place where Jesus was. Matthew 2:9
19th Dec
63 Albany Road
When the Magi saw the star, they were overjoyed and bowed down and worshipped Jesus.
Matthew 2:10
20th Dec
7 Valley Crescent
The Magi presented Jesus with gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11
Christmas Eve Crib Service 3pm Nativity Service at St Mary’s   All welcome Christmas Eve Carol Service 6.45pm @ St Mary’s       All welcomeChristmas Morning Communion Service   9.30am @ St Mary’s   All welcome

Services & Other Dates

5th December10:00 amHoly Communion (also on Zoom)
12th December10:00 pmMessy Church Christmas
19th December11:15 amHoly Communion (also on Zoom)
2:30 pmCarol Service by candlelight at the Old Church
24th December3:00 pmFamily Nativity – Crib Service
6:45 pmCarol Service
11:30 pmMidnight Communion at All Saints’ Church, Great Horkesley*
25th December9:30 amChristmas Holy Communion (also on Zoom)
26th DecemberNo services on Boxing Day
* If you would like a lift to this service, please contact the church wardens or the office.
NB All services are planned to be in person but we would be grateful if you could please wear a face covering if possible.
All at St Mary’s unless stated otherwise

Our Team at St Mary’s

  • Priest in Charge: Revd. Heather Wilcox
    email: [email protected]
    tel: 01206 240906 or 07503 151715
  • Assistant Curate: Revd Anne Mason
    email: [email protected].
    tel: 07895 970834 (Sunday & Tuesday – Thursday).
  • Church Wardens:
    Peter & Caroline Finlay, — [email protected] or 07926 387551 and
    Kate & Stephen Penrose, — 07973 421306
  • Lay Readers:
    Richard Chadborn—01206 240541;
    Michael Foster—01206 241022;
    Joy Budden—01206 241871.
  • 3 Parish Families’ Worker:
    Jo Jeffery—07853 586683 (until 31st December).
  • Parish Evangelist
    Ron Seymour—01206 272579.
  • Church Administrator:
    Jo Rassell — 01206 243683,
    email: [email protected].
    Church Office Hours — Monday 9 am—12:30 pm, Tuesday – Friday 9 am – 1 pm.
  • Hall Bookings:
    Nicole Long—01206 240443.
  • Newsletter Editor:
    email: [email protected].
  • Website:
  • Follow us on Facebook:

Who Was Constable William Raven?

Find out about William Raven, Buried in Old St Mary’s Churchyard

Constable William Raven
Constable William Raven

William Raven, a resident of West Bergholt, was born in Coggeshall in 1817, joined the Essex Constabulary in 1844 and died in 1911. You can now visit his, & his wife’s, grave in (Old) St Mary’s Churchyard but what happened in between those years?

Find out when Professor James Raven, from the Universities of Cambridge & Essex, gives a talk about his ancestor. He will touch on a number of topics that bear comparison with today such as:

Continue reading “Who Was Constable William Raven?”

Remembrance & Old Church Update

Old Church Renovations YouTube presentation

Old Church Renovations YouTube presentationRemembrance & Old Church Update

Last week we announced the plans for a Remembrance Service partially in St Mary’s (socially distanced and limited numbers) with Zoom.  The new Lockdown has thwarted that and plans have changed.  We also have an update report from the Friends of St Mary’s Old Church with a video presentation to the parish council.  First, Remembrance:

Remembrance Day Events

With the new Lockdown rules, the village can now only Continue reading “Remembrance & Old Church Update”

Lockdown Strikes – No Cakes!

One of 2020 Xmas Cards - features Old Church Organ - but no cakes

Lockdown Strikes – No Cakes!

Last week’s news roundup spoke of fundraising ideas from the Friends of St Mary’s Old Church but there will now be no cakes.  Unfortunately, Lockdown restrictions have made it very difficult to organise the sale of cakes, Cards & books on Saturday as had been planned.  There is a slim chance that they may be able to rearrange for December but this is likely to be too late for Xmas post.

Gift Idea?

Continue reading “Lockdown Strikes – No Cakes!”

Cakes, History, Remembrance & Fitness

Remembrance pebbles

Remembrance pebblesCakes, History, Remembrance, Fitness & St Mary’s Update – Updated for Lockdown

This news update covers several topics, starting with Cakes, History & Xmas, then covering:

First let’s find out what Cakes, History & Xmas have in common:

Cards, Cakes, History & Xmas – what’s not to like?

Continue reading “Cakes, History, Remembrance & Fitness”

Old Church Redecoration Ends at Last

Newly redecorated Old Church

Old Church Redecoration Ends at Last – Now Open Daily

Redecoration of the Old Church comes to a close
Looking pristine!

Having resumed work at the end of lockdown on 26th May, Bakers of Danbury are now completing the interior redecoration of the Old Church.  The Friends of St Mary’s are looking forward to seeing more visitors to the restored interior.

The Friends have given the church a good clean, and Continue reading “Old Church Redecoration Ends at Last”

Day 63 of (un?) Lockdown – the Old Church edition

Old Church circa 1880

Tower of JewelsDay 63 of (un?) Lockdown

The main news item for day 63 is an update on the Old Church renovations followed by a few updates from our government, and some fun at the end.  But first, we have a tall story from Annie Neish.

For those of you who are unable to cruise the village she thought you would like to see the Echium Pininana Tower of Jewels flowering beside the fence of the allotment on New Church Road.  Several years ago John had one on the plot next to her so she knew it might be possible.

A quick search on Wikipedia reveals this plant is native to La Palma in the Canaries where it is endangered due to habitat loss (Laurel forests).  Fortunately, it is being cultivated quite widely in the British Isles and Northern California so should have some resilience.

St Mary’s Old Church

Agreement about the best way forward following the discovery of the wall paintings was reached just as the Coronavirus put us all into lockdown. The work can now continue. Continue reading “Day 63 of (un?) Lockdown – the Old Church edition”

Blame the Plantagenets for delays reopening Old Church


Mediaeval wall painting of a lady's head from Plantagenets eraBlame the Plantagenets

If the Old Church mediaeval paintings are, as believed, around 700 years old, then we can blame the Plantagenets for its delayed reopening.  Apparently, deciding how best to preserve them has become a bit of a headache which is delaying the internal redecoration.  Accordingly, the Friends of St Mary’s have revised their event plans for 2020 as follows: Continue reading “Blame the Plantagenets for delays reopening Old Church”

Mediaeval Wall Paintings Uncovered – Old Church

Mediaeval Wall Paintings Uncovered

Mediaeval wall painting of a lady's head
The Lady’s Head

The Churches Conservation Trust has made great progress on internal redecoration work at the Old Church.  Mrs Yvonne Henderson’s legacy provided much of the funding for this work. Workers discovered fragments of 3 mediaeval wall paintings; they called in official conservators to assess the paintings which delayed work.

Work has now resumed and this will leave a lady’s head visible (see right) Continue reading “Mediaeval Wall Paintings Uncovered – Old Church”