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Events in June–July 2018

June 2018

01438 871658 or 01462 686808

Dear Friends,

I am writing this two or three days late so that I can include some details of the two visits we have had this week from the Bishop of Hertford, Bishop Michael. He led our worship and preached on Sunday. In his sermon he asked us to imagine what life would be like if the Ascension had never occurred, so Jesus would not have returned to be with his Father but had stayed around. The bishop suggested that, if that had been the case, very few people would have had a personal relationship with Jesus. Whereas his ascension meant that God sent the Holy Spirit to us and through that spirit all of us have the opportunity of a personal relationship with Jesus. The bishop returned on Wednesday for the afternoon and evening. He visited Preston School, both churches, had tea at Hello Out There and spent time with a good number of church members.  It was a good time and we are fortunate that he was able to be with us.  There are after all nearly 250 parishes in Hertfordshire.

As in 2017, we have been joining in Thy Kingdom Come in this parish. There have been a number of special services in both churches between Ascension Day and Pentecost when we have been praying for ourselves and others that our faith may be deepened.  These have gone well so far and I am looking forward to being at St Alban’s Abbey on Saturday for the culmination of this period of prayer in a special service of Celebration. The Archbishop of Canterbury will be speaking alongside the Revd Haley Young, a Baptist minister in this diocese and Soul Survivor, Watford will be leading the worship.  And all of us there will be praying that our own faith may deepen and that more people will be drawn to a personal relationship with Jesus.  I know that there will be feedback about this service in the July magazine.

As I mentioned last month the 2018 In Loving Memory service for the whole parish takes place at All Saints’ at 3pm on Sunday 24 June, followed by refreshments. In Loving Memory is a special service of hymns, prayers and short readings with the opportunity to light candles in memory of ‘those we love but see no longer’.  If you and other family members wish to attend and would like the name of your loved one read out during the service please let us know by email.  Personal invitations are being sent to the families we know where there has been a death in the last three years, but the service is, of course, open to everyone. Do get in touch if you want to know more.

Two young people from this parish were confirmed at the Abbey on Saturday last week by Bishop Alan and they received communion at St Martin’s for the first time the following day when Bishop Michael was taking the service.

Our Wednesday afternoon group resumes on 6 June and our theme for these five weekly sessions is: Women of the Bible as Role-models. Our first session will be devoted to Ruth. Come along at 2pm for an hour of talk and discussion followed by tea and biscuits.  Please contact me, Dawn or Meta for details of where the meetings will take place.

And some personal news: as some of you already know I will be leaving the parish at the end of September this year. I have been in Preston and Whitwell for over eight years and I am very sad to be saying Goodbye to you all, but I am nearly nine years older than when I arrived and I know that I now need to take things at a slightly gentler pace.

With my prayers and good wishes to you all


May 2018

It is now two weeks since Easter and the weather looks like it might warm up later this week. It was lovely that many of you worshipped with us on…

April 2018

We now have just one Soup Lunch and Lent Group left and it has been great to see so many joining us.  We are all very grateful to those who…

March 2018

I am writing this on the day after Ash Wednesday. Yesterday we held the first Soup Lunch in Whitwell Village Hall followed by the first Lent Group. We had a…

There is very little on record of worship in the village from the dissolution of the Knights Hospitaller in 1542 until the mid-19th century. However there are strong links with John Bunyan, who held regular services in a natural amphitheatre – still known as Bunyan’s Dell – in Wain Wood in the 1660s. The villagers were staunch followers of Bunyan, and they built a chapel in 1877 which was regularly used for worship until about 1985.

As far as Anglican worship is concerned, Preston was not large enough to support a church and was part of the Parish of Hitchin. However the curate of St Mary’s, Hitchin, who was responsible for the spiritual welfare of Preston, the Rev. B.N.Switzer, suggested that a Mr Pryor should donate one acre of his land for a Church and Burial Ground.

On January 28th 1899, Mr T.B.Carter, submitted a design with an estimated cost of £1200. This was accepted by the church committee and the people of Preston undertook to raise the money. The foundation stone was laid by Mrs MacMillan (an aunt of Sir Harold MacMillan), who was then living at Temple Dinsley, on St Martin’s Day, 11thNovember 1899. The church was consecrated as St Martin’s by the Bishop of St Albans on 14th July 1900. It has been described as:

“A simple little building set in a formal churchyard, with curiously domestic details reminiscent of C.F.A. Voysey (a prominent turn-of-the-century architect). With a pebble-dashed exterior, steep slate roof and plain nave windows between battered buttresses linked by segmental arches. At the west end is a stumpy towerlet with a gable for bells.”

Recently two new stained glass windows have been installed. Both designed by Peter Caller, a local stained glass artist.  In the south nave wall is the Centenary Window, depicting the life of St Martin and in the south wall of the porch is the Memorial Window to William Palmer, installed on 28th June 2001.

The East window was erected in memory of Thomas Warrin (Mrs McMillan’s father) who died in 1888. It was designed by Christopher Whall and represents the Tree of Jesse. This beautiful window was completely restored in 2005.

The present  Parish Priest is Elizabeth Bunker, she is available on  01438 871658 or  01462 686808, or via our Contact Us page.

The Churchwarden at St Martins is Malcolm Lowle who can be contacted on 01462 456664 or or via our Contact Us page.

There is a Friends of St. Martins society – For further details please contact Sue Griffiths via our Contact Us page.

A “120″ Club prize draw each month to raise funds for the ongoing maintenance of St Martins is run by Richard Blockley on behalf of the church. Monthly winners will be announced in the Church and Village Newsletter. Please contact Richard Blockley for further details via our Contact Us page.

Although there are more than one Saint Martin, our church is named after St Martin de Tours -‘The Glory of Gaul’.

St.Martin is the Patron Saint of many, including: beggars; soldiers (mainly of Infantrymen); conscientious objectors; prisoners; tailors; geese; vintners / innkeepers; alcoholics and of France.

There is some controversy on whether Saint Martin was born in 316 or 336. It is known that
his place of birth was Savaria which is in modern day Hungary. At the age of 10 St Martin became a Christian, even though at that time both of his parents were pagans. Many years later under St. Martin’s tutelage his mother converted to Christianity, but his father never did. Coming from a military family (his father was a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Horse Guard) St.Martin joined the cavalry corps of the Roman Army when he was 15,serving throughout Gaul (now France), Treves and Milan.

Whilst riding through Amiens in Gaul St Martin met a man who was begging for alms. Even though he was shivering with the cold no one was stopping to help the beggar. St Martin  had nothing to give apart from the clothes he was wearing. The Saint cut his heavy cloak in half and shared it with the man. He later had a vision of Christ, surrounded by angels, wearing the half of the cloak. He heard Jesus saying to the angels “Martin, as yet only a catechumen, has clothed me.” This had such an effect on the young St Martin that he was baptised soon afterwards, at the age of 18.

At 20 Martin left the Army as he felt he could no longer fight. He became the first recognised conscientious objector in recorded  history and was ordained as a deacon by the Bishop Hilary in Poitiers. He then spent many monastic years meditating on the Scriptures, sharing his beliefs, teaching and helping others. When Lidorious the bishop of Tours died the people acclaimed Martin to be their new bishop. It was known that Martin was reluctant so he was tricked into going to the city by being told he was needed to administer to someone who was sick. On his arrival he was taken to the church ,where the bishops present were not impressed by the scruffy monk the people had brought to them to be ordained as a new bishop. St.Martin  had not given any thought to his appearance. His aim was simply to arrive as quickly as possible to aid and bless the sick man.

Once ordained St.Martin was a holy, compassionate and hard working bishop. He established a system of parishes in his diocese and visited all of them at least once a year. He was deeply committed to his responsibilities, which included missionary work. He travelled around sharing his love of God and helping converts to Christianity set up communities with a priest or a monk. He helped the people of Tours in many different ways, settling disputes, answering questions ,not all of them to do with spiritual concerns. He was dedicated to freeing prisoners and healing, including a young girl who had never spoken.

In 372, having established an abbey in Marmoutier, St.Martin and his many disciples were able to spend time in retreat there, praying and leading a monastic life.

St.Martin died on the 8 of November 397 and was buried on the 11 November – generally recognised as his Feast Day (although some now regard it to be the 12th).

Prayers of and to St.Martin include:

Prayer of St.Martin of Tours

Lord, if Your people still have
need of my services, I will
not avoid the toil, Your will be
done. I have fought the good
fight long enough. Yet if You
bid me to continue to hold
the battle line in defence of Your
camp, I will never beg to be
excused from failing strength.
I will do the work You entrust
to me. While You command,
I will fight beneath Your banner,


St. Martin of Tours
Dear well-beloved Saint,
you were first a soldier
like your father.
Converted to the Church,
you became a soldier of Christ,
a priest and then
a Bishop of Tours.
Lover of the poor,
and model for pagans
and Christians alike,
protect our soldiers at all times.
Make them strong,
just, and charitable, always
aiming at establishing peace
on earth.  Amen
Blessed Saint. You were born
under pagan ways but since your
childhood you were chosen to be
a Prince of the Church and, as
Bishop of Tours, many souls were
redeemed and liberated from
the satanic forces through your
prayers, austerities and blessings.
We humbly ask for your
intercession before Our Lord
Jesus Christ because we want to
be worthy of the grace and
mercy of the Holy Spirit that
lead us from darkness to light
into the eternal kingdom,
forever and ever. Amen

Blessed St Martin of Tours,
obtain for us not only
forgiveness, but also a spirit
of love towards neighbours,
enabling us to be compassionate.

Obtain for us the grace to
love all people as brothers
and sisters with a pure
and disinterested heart

May we, like you, one day
enjoy the blessed vision of
God, forever and ever


The Church Committee of St Martins  is responsible for the financial affairs of the church and the maintenance of its assets, as well as for promoting the mission of the church.

Its members for 2017/18 are as follows :

  • Revd Elizabeth Bunker
  • Malcolm Lowle
  • Dawn Jenkins
  • Richard Gill
  • Richard Blockley
  • Hugh Reeves
  • Meta Reeves
  • Sue Griffiths
  • Alec Dickenson
  • Jane Cole
  • Andy Cole
  • Pam Stark
  • Paul Constantinidi

Minutes of the 2018 AGM will be published here.