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Newsletter No. 4 June 2017

Updated: Nov 18, 2019


The aim of the Friends Scheme is to promote a shared sense of community, both locally and universally, centred on a beautiful historic building in a peaceful Thames-side setting. Through social gatherings, presentations and communications, members learn more about the architecture, art and archaeology of the church, and about the church’s role in the history of Bisham and its district, while meeting each other and sharing a common interest.

The Scheme was started in June 2014 and the Register of Friends now stands at 51.

Church Fabric (Rod Stevens, Church Warden)

Two Church Working Parties were held earlier this year, one cleaning and tidying the inside of the church and one tidying the churchyard. We are always grateful to all who provide valuable support on these occasions.

Work on the sound system continues; we plan to provide an additional roving microphone and to incorporate a modification such that CDs etc. can be played without having to unlock the sound system cabinet.

The Friends Sub-Group has agreed to provide a donation to assist in replacement of the worn carpet in front of the altar and provision of more comfortable cushioning on the pew seats in the Nave.

The project dealing with provision of kitchen and toilet facilities within the church continues. The Diocesan Advisory Committee, whilst considering our plans for conversion of the old boiler room, has insisted that a pre-removal asbestos survey is required and this was conducted recently by the contractors whose quote has been accepted for removing the old boiler and asbestos. Donations made previously for toilet facilities remain ring-fenced in a separate ASB account. Meanwhile, the temporary toilet facilities have been retained.

On Sunday 18th June Bisham Gardens were open to the public. It was a glorious sunny day (hot) and all visitors to the church were pleased to enter into the cool interior. The Open Gardens Day is the major fund raising event of the year carrying on the tradition which was so much loved and promoted by Patricia Burstall. Whilst not matching the record revenue achieved last year when the day was dedicated to Pat’s memory, this year’s result was extremely successful. As well as drawing the general public to the beauty of Bisham, it is also great to see the fellowship between church and village the day generates in support of caring for our church. Our grateful thanks to all who helped on the day. Next year’s event will be on Sunday 17th June so please make a note in your diary.

The American Connection (John Harper and Rebecca Tulloch)

NB: This article first appeared in Bisham News, April/May Edition 2017. As it is of wider interest, it is repeated here for Friends.

In the summer of 2016, we were approached by a lady from the States, Rebecca Tulloch, for some detailed information regarding the Hobys, the family who were the owners of Bisham Abbey for 200 years from mid-Tudor times. As a consequence we learnt of the annual re-enactment, and much more besides, in the town of Bristol in America’s Mid-West of a visit in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth I to the city of Bristol, England, when Rebecca adopted the persona of Lady Hoby (later, Lady Russell). Rebecca is a television and video producer and presenter. Let her tell her own story. (John Harper)

Dear Friends,

My name is Rebecca Tulloch, living in the mid-west of America, and I have been invited by John Harper of All Saints’ Church, Bisham, to share with you my story about how I spend my summers interpreting the history of Lady Hoby/Russell who is at rest in the church. I am honored by his invitation and I am happy to describe for you my part in sharing Lady Hoby’s story with Americans. For the past two years, I have been volunteering my time portraying Lady Hoby at the Bristol Renaissance Faire here in the United States. The old Bristol, England, comes alive annually in July and August to recreate the 1574 Royal Progress of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth - Gloriana - with music, dancing, feasting, and tournaments; ironically the recreated village is located within the boundaries of the genuine town of Bristol, Wisconsin.

As a member of the theatrical Guilde of St George, my role is to help create, along with my fellow cast members, the court of Her Majesty who travelled each summer on Progress. Many of the historical figures that surrounded Her Majesty are represented in the cast, such as Lord Burghley, Sir Nicholas Bacon, Sir Francis Walsingham, Robert Dudley and many others, including the ladies of the court. My cast numbers about 60 members, and is just one of sixteen different casts that represent the many types of people that populated 16thcentury Bristol during the Queen’s visit – villagers, tradesmen, adventurers, actors, seamen, soldiers, musicians and dancers, bureaucrats and town officials, as well as darker characters in the guise of rogues and villains. There are about 300 actors and performers altogether.

During the nine weekends that the Faire is open, the Queen and her court start each day by processing into the city to the cheering of both period actors and some fifteen to seventeen thousand Faire patrons; they can visit each performance every day. Every day for us is the same day - welcoming Her Majesty to Bristol in 1574. After the opening parade, songs and greetings are presented and performed for the monarch along with many cheers of ‘God save the Queen’. Court dancing and a feast fill her afternoon, along with jousting on horseback in full armour when the Queen and her court cheer on their favourite knights. In the early evening, Her Majesty holds court with her retinue, when villagers and patrons can present gifts of song, dancing, skills and other honors. Additionally, there are even times when disputes are heard and settled by the Queen. My Guilde’s role is just one aspect of the many presentations, entertainments and performances that occur every day to bring 16th century Elizabethan England alive on the 30-acre site with its twenty stages, many food stalls and pubs, and over 100 shops and vendors.

When I joined the cast two years ago, I had to decide on a historical character to portray. Unlike many of our fellow performance-groups at the Faire who often assume generic roles, such as bakers, winemakers, tanners, candlestick makers, etc. My cast must choose real historical figures that actually lived.

So how does one go about this? With some mentoring from veteran cast members, I reviewed historic records of important ladies who were members of Her Majesty’s court, and Lady Hoby presented a possible option because in the year 1574 she had been a widow of some eight years. Like Elizabeth Cooke (Lady Hoby) I, too, am a widow, having lost my husband eight years prior in December 2007. Feeling I had a common bond with Lady Hoby, I was interested in learning more about her. Through further investigation into her life, I learned that she was one of the very famous Cooke sisters, known throughout England for their brilliant education and intelligence – very unusual for 16th century. I too have studied a good deal and attained two degrees from University: a Bachelor’s of Science in History, and a Master’s of Science in Management. Already discovering that we had much in common, I wanted to learn more about her. I decided Elizabeth Cooke was perfect for my portrayal.

Having decided on Lady Hoby, I soon learned that, among my cast mates, Sir William Cecil (Lord Burghley), Sir Nicholas Bacon, Mildred Cooke (Lady Burghley), and Lady Anne Cecil were all currently being portrayed which meant that I would have family I would have to mix with at court. During each day of the Faire, I interact with patrons by speaking to them in first person or as if indeed I were Lady Hoby. One of the goals of the Faire is to try to transport patrons from the 21st century back into the 16th century. So being the characters we have chosen is very important. We are even instructed on how to speak Elizabethan English – which is a lot of fun. When I speak to patrons, they are most surprised to hear how educated Lady Hoby was, compared to other well born ladies at the time who were only expected to marry well and learn to manage households and entertain guests. I also believe that my personal loss of a husband helps me to express the loss that Lady Hoby must have felt for some many years which I think is evident by the long period of time before she remarried at the end of 1574 to Lord John Russell.

At Faire, we have a location where many of the coats of arms of the lords and ladies represented in our cast are painted on shields and hung around our Court area. The previous winter, I decided that I needed Lady Hoby’s coat of arms to be added to the display. Not knowing what her coat of arms looked like, I started researching the question which led me to All Saints’ Church, Bisham, where I learned she was entombed. Through the church’s website email address, I wrote a note explaining what and why I was researching information about Lady Hoby, and your John Harper replied. Together we corresponded, with him helping me to learn about the Hoby Coat of Arms resulting in her shield being displayed all last summer at the Faire, and it will be hung again this summer. Thank you, John, for your wonderful assistance. I think it is a beautiful, and my favorite part is the white griffon on the blue field. The griffon is so different and fun for children to look at. Most children think it is a dragon, which gives me a chance to explain that a griffon is not a dragon, but a cross between a lion and an eagle.

Should anyone be traveling to the United States this summer, I would like to invite you to visit me and the rest of the cast at the Bristol Renaissance Faire which runs at weekends from 8th July to 4th September 2017. It is located about 100 miles north of Chicago, in the south-east corner of Wisconsin. Rebecca Tulloch

The Australian Connection (Roy Partridge)

In 2004 ASB became the first Honorary Life Member of a heritage group in Queensland, Australia, concerned with the restoration and preservation of the old Christ Church and its burial ground at Wynnum Road, Tingalpa, Brisbane. Christ Church was built and established by the ‘Tingalpa Pioneers’ in the 1860s with considerable support at that time from ASB and Bisham residents. Over the years the chapel became derelict but during the first four years of the millennium was restored.

An article in the Brisbane Courier on 4th November 1868 notes that Tingalpa’s Christ Church was fully paid (some £225) for at its opening on 27th October 1868 and became Brisbane’s first consecrated church. There was much speculation as to how such a thinly populated farming area could afford to pay for their church. The article explains how the funds were collected and how they were spent. The Bisham support mentioned in despatches in connection with donations comprised Miss Mills (who collected money on behalf of T Weedon), Rev T E Powell (a collection made at Bisham Church), G H Vansittart Esq (per T Weedon) – the Weedons were resident in Tingalpa at the time but previously of Temple Mill. All-in-all the Bisham contribution amounted to approx 21% of the cost of the Church. Interestingly Leamington and Leamington Church contributed twice as much as Bisham and so Leamington and Bisham met most of the building costs.

Christ Church was demolished by a savage cyclone in 1885 but the Tingalpa pioneers gathered up the timbers and rebuilt it, slightly smaller as it remains today. Over the years, new churches sprang up as settlements grew and Tingalpa declined. Many times it was declared redundant and threatened with demolition but always the faithful rallied to save their church as a place of worship.

In 1996 the chapel guarding the graves of the pioneers was decommissioned and stripped for demolition but the community asked for it to be Heritage Land and thus saved it from destruction by the owners but not from termites and vandals. In 2002, the Friends of Tingalpa Heritage Cemetery was formed to protect and restore both the church and its cemetery.

139 years after its first consecration saw the first public use of the newly restored pioneer’s chapel which guards the gravestones of some 300 pioneers and their descendants.

Having been saved and restored by The Friends of Tingalpa Cemetery Heritage Group Inc, the building is now known as the "Pioneer Wedding Chapel”.

Guided tours of Bisham Church and Churchyard, and Church Opening in 2017.

Anyone wishing to visit All Saints’ Bisham outside service times should call the Parish Office, 01628 481806, and arrangements can then be made to open the church at an agreed date and time. If required, a guided tour of the church and churchyard can be organised.

Service times:

1st Sunday in the month - 8.00am Holy Communion; 9.30am All Age Service

Other Sundays in the month - 9.30am Sung Eucharist.

Even if the church is not open when you visit, the serenity of the Thames-side churchyard is an experience to be savoured and enjoyed, and there are plenty of benches with views in different directions, especially of the river.

Joining the Friends

If you know of others who might like to join, whether they live in Bisham, Marlow or further afield, please do encourage them to do so. Your help in spreading the word would be invaluable. Please also let us know if there is anything you would particularly like us to try and do.

For further information, including an application form, prospective Friends should email us at, write to Friends of the Church of All Saints Bisham, c/o Parish Office, Parish of Great Marlow and Marlow Bottom with Little Marlow and Bisham, The Causeway, Marlow, Bucks SL7 2AA, or telephone our Membership Secretary on 01628 471409.

Postscript: the ASB Quiz this year will be held in Bisham Abbey on Wednesday 18th October.

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