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Newsletter No. 15 October 2023

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

From the editor Judy Taylor


Welcome to the Bisham Church Friends Newsletter for Autumn 2023. (Thanks to Sean for our wonderful cover photo above).

I hope everyone had a great summer, despite our less-than-hot weather through July and August. The September/October heatwave has made up for it, and it's still going strong.

We’ve had a busy time since our last newsletter, as usual, although we were quieter over the summer holiday period.

We hope you continue to enjoy reading all our news. If you have any suggestions for additions or changes you’d like to see, please let us know.

We are always interested in members of the community writing articles about people in the village, events - or any other news, so feel free to put your hands up if you would like to make a contribution.

I’m happy to help edit anything you write if you want me to, and a photograph or two always works to bring a story to life.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the next events!



Our Chair’s Update - Autumn 2023 Sean Wheeler

It’s hard to believe it’s only just over two years since we started hosting our BCF events for Bisham Church & the village community and I am delighted to say they continue to be well supported.

Our goals for Bisham Church Friends remain the same -

  • Raise awareness of our beautiful church

  • Encourage new people through the door

  • Raise funds for the church & local community

  • Bring the community together

I want to thank all our friends, volunteers and supporters for your continued support by attending so many of our events and for your generous contributions. We couldn’t have all these great activities without you.

We have lost some dear friends this year, Elizabeth Bamford, John Harper, Peter James and Martin Blunkett, who are sadly no longer with us, but are with us still in spirit. I want to personally pay tribute to them and their families for all their support of the Church and the Friends over the years. They were truly valued.

Our Friends continue to grow, so a big welcome to...

  • Gary and Suzy Nicholls

  • Sue Winter

  • Brian and Janet Slatter

  • Jacqueline Guttfield

  • Catherine Flew

Our new events continue, including the winter lunches which are starting up again in the new year and will be more about bringing people together during the cold period.

Our church history tours have been very successful, so we have added additional dates. Big thanks go to Sheila Feathersone-Clark for all the work she has put into them and the coffee mornings. Our next event will be the locally based Jam Choir at the church which will be bringing us an afternoon of music on the 15th October, which I hope you will be able to attend.

We are working hard to connect with our younger community, which we hope the Jam Choir will help drive and have hosted several services for the Bisham School children and their families, the latest of which was a resounding success. We had a wonderful Harvest Festival service. More of that in this edition.

Our relationship with the school continues to blossom and as we start the new school year, I would like to say a big welcome to Emma Brookman, the new Head Teacher, who many of you met at our recent Friends event and who has already been very supportive of us doing more together, so watch this space.

We are working with Bisham Abbey and hosting a Santa Letter writing and Christmas Ornament event at Bisham Abbey on the 26th November for children from 4-11 years old so we hope to see families the. Finally on the 14th December we have our annual coffee morning with carols sung by the children at the school.

One popular event I would like to remind you of is our annual Quiz night on the 8th November at Bisham Abbey, Tickets are going fast with more than 80 already sold and our maximum capacity is 100 so if you would like to join us please let me know. Details are on the events page on our website, which we are seeing more and more people using to book attendance at events which is great and really helps us manage catering needs so thank you.

The funds we are raising continue to support the church and community. We do have a specific project we are focusing on for a new servery in the church, to enable us and other users of the church community space to better serve the people they are looking after.

We will soon be in planning mode for 2024 so if you have any feedback on our events or any ideas of new things we can do to achieve our goals please do let us know.

All Saints Bisham continues to play a key role in the village community, so thank you again for your support and see you at our future events.

Sean Wheeler BEM

Chair Bisham Church Friends


Future dates for your diary


Churchyard Autumn Tidy-Up

  • refreshments after


Afternoon of Music - The Jam Choir - Church Fund Raiser

  • Tea & cakes from 4.00pm

  • also, Theatre, based in Marlow not only focuses on training young people in performing arts, but also a thriving choir of adults, who’ll be joined by Vocal Explosion: 7 teenagers with amazing voices!

**SATURDAY 21ST OCTOBER - 1pm - 3pm - NEW DATE **

Church Tour -Bisham Church

  • With Sheila our local historian

  • £5 pp includes Tea & biscuits. Book via Bisham Church Friends Website


All Souls Service - Bisham Church

WEDNESDAY 8TH NOVEMBER -6.30pm – 9.30pm

Quiz Night at Bisham Abbey **BOOK TICKETS ASAP AS POPULAR EVENT **

  • Fundraising event for Bisham Church

  • Drink on Arrival & Supper included - £20 pp plus raffle tickets on sale on the night.

  • Open to all villagers, family & friends, create a team of 6 or join a team on the night.

  • Book & Pay in Advance - contact Sean – – to book plus dietary needs.


Remembrance Sunday Service

  • All Saints Bisham

**SUNDAY 26TH NOVEMBER - 11am-1.30pm- NEW DATE**

Village Children Santa Workshop - Bisham Abbey

  • Children aged 4-11 years are able to write letters to Santa & make festive ornaments.

  • Max. 20 children per session, if popular additional times on the day will be open.

  • Children take letters home to post to Santa & an ornament for their Christmas Tree

  • Tea & coffee & bar are available to purchase.

  • Bring your own lunch for the family.

  • Book via Website

THURSDAY – 14th DECEMBER - 10am - 12 noon

Complimentary Festive Community Coffee Morning

  • Joined by Bisham School Children for Carols & Nativity

  • Homemade cakes & fresh coffee.

SUNDAY - 17th DECEMBER - 5pm

Carol Service

  • All welcome

  • Refreshments after.

SUNDAY - 24th DECEMBER - 3pm

Crib Service

  • All welcome


Christmas Day Service

  • All welcome



  • WE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR A CHURCH CLEANING TEAM – Please contact Sean if interested



Tingalpa Update

Our Tingalpa links continue to thrive. After Lois Hynes’ visit earlier this year, she returned to her community to share news of her trip. Here are a couple of pictures of her around our church and also one of her sharing stories of her visit once back at her home.

For the chapel’s 155th anniversary on 8th October 2023, we have sent our congratulations, via Sean. The following is an excerpt from the letter he sent

We are delighted to be “friends” across the water and want to thank Jim & Monica McMaster for bringing us together this year. We are sure you will have some great celebrations over the coming weeks and look forward to us continuing to strengthen our friendship over the coming years and beyond. If anyone is planning to come to our part of the world we will gladly show them round our beautiful church and the surrounding area. Sheila Featherstone-Clark is going to visit Tingalpa in November, so there will be news and photos of her trip in the next newsletter.


A Melody of Music: Reviewing our music afternoon with Richard Brooman and Rowena Gibbons

Once again, on the afternoon of Sunday 2nd July, bass-baritone Richard Brooman treated a receptive audience to an afternoon of music covering a variety of genres. He was expertly accompanied by the quite excellent Rowena Gibbons.

Richard’s music journey started in 1965 at Chatsworth Junior Mixed in Hounslow. (I have failed to find a critique of the performance other than it apparently was acclaimed by music teacher Miss Mullard – no record of cakes being presented). Despite developing his range of parts, through romantic and character to those of higher social rank, he did not receive a call from the Royal Opera House so he stuck to his day job of accounting. However, he went on to many operatic performances and he has been generous with his talents in Bisham for many years.

After studying oboe and piano at Chetham School of Music in Manchester Rowena discovered her great love of accompanying other performers. She is currently an accompanist to various choral societies and choirs and, each year, organises a choral concert in Cumbria. She also teaches and plays for exams for Milton Keynes Music Service. We are, indeed, fortunate to have her at our Melody of Music in Bisham.

The first part of the concert focussed on opera featuring trips to France, Austria, the Mediterranean and biblical and mythological lands courtesy of Gounod, Schubert, Mozart, Donizetti, di Capua and Rossini. In these Richard not only demonstrated his musical skills but also his ability to sing in a number of languages. He prefaced each rendition with a useful short contextual explanation.

After the interval, during which much of a spectacular display of cakes and scones was demolished, Richard turned to The Barber of Seville, two numbers by Irving Berlin and a Rogers and Hammerstein favourite South Pacific. Things then became lighter still when The Gnu and The Hippopotamus followed – always crowd-pleasers.

Whilst Richard again failed to offer any of his former extensive collection of rugby songs he did come up with more appropriate rugby material in the form of Max Boyce’s illustrations of Welsh supporters on quiet weekends to Twickenham and Murrayfield. These were extremely amusing.

The finale was what must now be one of the best-known and all-time great songs of the rugby fraternity worldwide, The Fields of Athenry, always heard booming out from crowds wherever Irish teams are playing. If you know the words it is impossible not to join in.

This was another memorable afternoon and grateful thanks go to Richard, Rowena and the Bisham Church Friends who organised the event and supplied and served the food and drink goodies.

Hamish Hunter

July 2023


Our new Servery is a step closer

Rev. John Smith has news for us of the potential new Servery for our church, shares plans with us and tells us of progress...

When we were planning the installation of the lavatory in the church in 2016, we always anticipated that we would need extra space to store, prepare and serve refreshments. At that time, for financial reasons, the scope of the work was limited to what we now have.

What has been achieved in terms of utilisation of the church since the toilet facilities were installed has been truly remarkable, primarily because of the effort of the Friends. In addition to the Friends’ regular coffee mornings, the church has become a highly valued stop for the Marlow Riders who usually arrive in a group of over seventy. We have been able to stage concerts and events and offer hospitality to any group that uses the church. It has been a great blessing to be able to offer a cup of coffee or tea to parents of children who attend school services in the church. Because of the tremendous work of the Friends volunteers under Sean’s leadership, the number of people attending functions and the frequency of those functions has continued to grow.

We now find that we do not have sufficient space to support the extent of these activities, and the preparation of food and drinks outside the loo is not desirable. Plans have been drawn up to provide a servery in the room at the base of the tower now used for choir robing and storage. The existing cupboards will be modified and a kitchen installed with sink, fridge, dishwasher and microwave.

An estimate of £18,000 has been provided by one contractor. Bids are being sought from other contractors. A faculty (seeking permission from the diocese) for this installation is being submitted. Our attention now turns to raising the funds to pay for this. One small grant of £2,500 has been applied for and requests are being made to other groups that have funding for this type of project. As always, the Friends have been very generous in supporting various church and community activities over the last year and we hope that you will be able to help us with this project as much as you are able.


September’s Harvest service

We recently hosted the annual Harvest service with all the Bisham School children. It was a joyous service, with great singing and happiness as they brought their donations to the front of the church. It was also lovely to see the church packed with 85 children and 42 adults.

Thanks to Gina for her help with refreshments and to Emma who was wonderful in helping encourage the children’s families to attend.


Introducing Emma Brookman

This month, we don’t have a Hidden Treasure, but instead, we want to welcome Emma Brookman, the new Head Teacher of Bisham School, to our community

I asked the new head of Bisham School to tell us about her perspective on Bisham, the relationship between the school and the church, the value of joint initiatives and her vision for the future. Here’s what she had to say.

  • How do you see Bisham? Bisham is a beautiful-looking village. You cannot help but be impressed by the surroundings. I particularly like the quaint cottages. I have been fortunate to meet some of the locals, through the help of John and Sean and everyone has made me feel very welcome.

  • How would you describe it to a friend? A beautiful village with a wealth of history to learn about.

  • How would you summarise the relationship between the church and the school? The relationship between the church and school is something that John and I are looking to build on. We are planning to meet regularly to discuss how we would like to form stronger links with the children and their families; we would also like to explore how to encourage the community to live their faith through the actions of their hearts and minds.

  • What are the plusses of having the church building and community so close to the school? Ideally, the close proximity will enable the children to have an opportunity to attend church regularly however, I am aware that the church currently does not open during the week. It would be wonderful to have a service in the week where we could invite children to attend along with the parishioners.

  • How does the interaction between the church and the school benefit both parties? The interaction between the church and the school will benefit both parties through joint events, initiatives and opportunities. Developing a true sense of community, where the school and the church are at the heart, can only be a cause for good.

  • What are the opportunities for working together in the future? John and I are looking at forming closer links together. John and I have discussed the importance of being available at the beginning and end of the school day in order to meet parents and support their needs. I can honestly say that I am very excited about the future for the church and the school.


And finally, a poem for Autumn

5th October is world poetry day. This one’s short and sweet.

The poet, T. E. Hulme (1883 – 1917) was one of the founders of the imagist movement. He was killed in action during World War I on September 28, 1917, 106 years to the day (almost) from this edition of the newsletter.

A touch of cold in the Autumn night

I walked abroad,

And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge

Like a red-faced farmer.

I did not stop to speak, but nodded;

And round about were the wistful stars

With white faces like town children.


Until next time, when we will have celebrated fireworks night, Christmas, New Year, and Easter! Be happy, healthy and we look forward to seeing you all over the next 6 months.

Sunrise behind Bisham Church
Photo by Sean Wheeler

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