23- 24 June - St Mary's Church Eaton Socon 80th Anniversary Celebrations
|Published: 14th June 2012 07:27|
St Mary's Church in Eaton Socon will be celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the re-dedication of their church over the weekend 23/24th June. The C12 church was virtually destroyed by a massive fire on the 8th of February 1930. (More below)
The Vicar Timothy Robb said ‘It promises to be an excellent event we are all looking forward to welcoming the whole community to help us celebrate this historical event'
The 80th Anniversary Celebrations will include
- A Flower Festival on Saturday 23 and Sunday the 24th of June.
- A musical concert at 7.30pm on Saturday night the 23 of June
- Celebratory ‘Songs of Praise' Service at 10.30am on Sunday 24th June
- A Hog Roast lunch on the green outside the church at 12.45 on Sunday the 24th of June.
- The whole weekend of celebration will coincide with the Annual Eaton Socon Open Garden event..
For more information and ticket prices please contact the church office 01480 352154 or look on the Church website http://www.eatonsocon.org/
On Saturday 8th Feb 1930 at around 8.00pm Mr F Slingo - Clerk and Sexton of St Mary's - checked the 'stoke hole' located adjacent to the Organ chamber in preparation for heating the church for Sunday services. At around 8.30pm the same evening, Mr AC Mardlin, a Church neighbor noticed a flickering light in the East Wing and ran to call the Fire Brigade from the Post Office.
While they were waiting Mr A W McNish, from the Manor House, helped with fire extinguishers and the Vicar the Reverend E P Higham got help from the local residents to remove many items from the Vestry - They saved communion plates, Church records dating from 1556, and Alter frontals.
The fire spread quickly and only half an hour later the main roof collapsed. At around the same time the first fire engines and crews arrived from Sandy quickly followed by the St Neots Brigade. They pumped the water from the River Ouse some 500 yards away. The 30 strong Fire Crews fought the flames valiantly ignoring the falling masonry and molten lead from the roof and windows but dispite their efforts the blaze spread to the Tower and by 10.00pm the whole Church was engulfed. The church bells chimed for the last time at10.45pm. One bell melted but the remainder remained intact although three were badly cracked. The flames were brought under control at around 3.00am on Sunday the 9th of Feb, and the exhausted crews stood down at about 8.30am.
The true extent of the damage was confirmed on the Sunday morning. The Church was completely burnt out, stained glass windows destroyed, the Organ reduced to ashes. The Rood Screen, oak roof carvings and the majority of the Pews and Pew Heads were destroyed and brasses from (c1400), ornaments, processional equipment totally ruined. The Bells, dating from 1607 suffered major cracks to three and a total meltdown to at least one more. The Church Clock was burnt out, although the 'face' survived.
Early that same Sunday morning, a meeting between the Vicar and the Church Officers declared that the Church must be rebuilt as soon as possible the cost were estimated as £30,000.00. An open air Service was held on the Sunday afternoon and attended by over 2000 people when prayers were said for the future well being of the Church.
The rebuild of the Church, was overseen by the Architect Sir Albert Richardson a local man from Bedford. More Who followed the original design and managed to save, the tower which was largely undamaged by the fire. The church was reconsecrated in 1932. The final cost of the rebuild was a 'tad' under £18,500.00.