Christmas!!. Is it really only a few weeks ago that we were celebrating one of the happiest times of the year? It all seems a bit of a distant memory now.

The amount of work and planning that goes into making Christmas a success, be it for a family get together, an office party, a company lunch at a nice hotel, or in our case the annual Christmas Carol Services at our Churches, it’s all quite daunting. The flower arrangements, the Christmas tree decorations and the all important lights (they worked OK last year will they be alright this year? Yes, they were), the readings, the choice of carols, are there enough song sheets for everyone, how many mince pies should we get and will there be sufficient hot mulled wine?

But when you welcome so many smiling people who have come out on a cold damp December day or evening to join together to sing well known Carols, to listen to the story of the birth of our Lord, to say Hi as they meet old friends and maybe make new friends, then it’s all so worthwhile.

Once again the amount of money put in the collections will enable us to send two very generous cheques to the Save the Children Charity.

Meanwhile St. Giles School organised a Carol Service for Key Stage 2 children at St. Giles Church in the week after the Church Carol Services, and it was a sell-out! Over 140 people in the church, which generally only holds 120! The children sang joyfully and with a great sense of rhythm, and they read clearly and well. How fortunate we are to have such a talented school and such gifted children!

At St. Giles, as well as the decorations described above, we lit all the candles on the pillars and the chandeliers, and the effect was magical.

If you were not able to get to this year’s Carol concerts then we’ll be doing it all again next December, and hopefully this time you’ll join us.

Happy New Year!!!

Doug Ryan and William Marsterson


If you would like to read the full story of why we are appealing for funds for the Frowyk Chapel, click on this link:THE FROWYK CHAPEL PROJECT storyline


A year ago our Surveyors, who are Project Managing the restoration of the Frowyk Chapel at St. Giles, presented us with a two phase project. We can report that Phase One is now complete. We have received a Conservation Report on the state of the Frowyk tomb. We have had a ground penetrating radar survey (GPR) of the floor of the chapel, to identify where cavities are, which will need to be filled in, we have had the canopy of the tomb removed, to stop it collapsing, which would cause major damage to a Grade I monument.

We have also gained permission to dismantle the rest of the tomb, which was scheduled as the start of Phase Two. Our stonework Conservators, the Skillington Workshop, had a window of opportunity in January, before starting work on a major piece of restoration in St. Albans Cathedral, so we now have the floor clear for it to be taken up, excavated, filled and made firm and level. A concrete slab will be built on which the tomb can be re-built. And the timber screen can be straightened up again. All we need is permission from the Diocese, who need to see a method statement for the floor works – which has yet to be specified. So that stage is delayed. We live in hope!!!

Recently it has been discovered that the tomb was last dismantled as recently as 1958, when subsidence also caused damage to the windows and the tomb. The workman who did the repairs left their names on one of the sections of stonework! The effigy of Thomas Frowyk who died in 1523 is now in the chancel, and there are traces of colour on the stonework.

Meanwhile representatives of the Monumental Brass Society have pointed out that the memorial brasses which form part of the floor of the chapel need to be properly mounted, and also that we could take the chance to relocate a gravestone, currently outside the church, into the chapel floor. This is actually quite a significant stone. It is one of the oldest objects in the church, and indeed in the village. It used to lie in the floor of the chancel near to the Priest’s door. When the church was re-ordered in 1877, it was put outside the door.

It commemorates a gentleman called Pouns. It has an inscription on it, in lettering (known as Lombardic) more commonly found in northern Italy, which says, in Norman French, “De Pouns lies here. God have mercy on his soul.” There is no date, but the style of lettering dates it to around 1300 AD. Now there is a story about William de Pouns.

According to historians, Henry Frowyk who died in 1378, was a minor at his father’s death, and his mother was his ward. He was kidnapped by William de Pouns and his son Richard, together with Thomas Lewknor (owner of the Manor of Wyllyotts in Potters Bar), and a priest. Aged only 14, he was carried off to Pleshey in Essex, and forced to marry William de Pouns’ daughter, Margaret, without his ward and mother being consulted. In 1308 she petitioned Parliament for redress. The kidnappers were imprisoned, but pardoned in 1311. However the marriage was not annulled, and appears to have gone on smoothly. Henry Frowyk’S grandson, another Henry, now lies under the massive stone in front of the high altar in St. Giles (and the name is spelled “Frowyk” on the brass strip on the stone, so that is why I have used it, rather than the spelling with an “e”).

So if the Frowyk family and the Pouns family were at one point involved in a dynastic struggle, and later became reconciled, it seem very appropriate that the Pouns stone should be returned to the church, and placed in the Frowyk chapel near to the grave stone of his grandson-in-law Henry, and beside the important ledger stone of his grandson, Thomas Frowyk (who died in 1449), who was responsible for rebuilding the body of the church around 1425.

We hope that when the floor is eventually restored and the chapel rebuilt, it will set at rest an ancient feud. And in case anyone should question why we are incurring yet more expense on the project, the Monumental Brass Society, and another Foundation which is mainly concerned with restoring monuments, have offered to pay the marginal extra costs.

How about the rest of the fund-raising? I am happy to report that since we included a flyer launching the Frowyk Chapel Appeal in October, we have been given, or promised over £13,000 (including Gift Aid). We have also been awarded a grant from Church Care (part of the Church of England) of £5,000. I have made applications to another five Trusts, but there is no guarantee that they will award anything.

Last October we said we needed another £50,000 to complete the project and still leave the church able to attend to other necessary works. The shortfall is now reduced to a little over £30,000. So if you have not yet made a contribution, and would like to, please get in touch with one of the Churchwardens, or the Treasurer, Christine Cameron (contact details on the cover of the Parish Paper). There are also donation forms in the church. Your generosity will be recognised on a list of benefactors in the restored chapel.
William Marsterson


How old are you? Do feel as old as the date on your birth certificate says you are? Do feel that the years are passing too quickly? Some days a look in the mirror confirms that the numbers don’t lie. But think back. When did you first realise that you were starting to look older? These days young people often have to carry proof of their age before they can buy cigarettes or alcohol etc. There were rules about such things when I was a teenager, but the shopkeepers were very much more relaxed about selling such items to obviously under age customers.

I can remember how we longed to be older, how the girls would wear makeup and high heels to appear older and then be back in school uniform to get a child’s fare on the buses. It was more difficult for boys but we tried to act older than we were.

So was there a moment when you realised you really were getting older and it was beginning to show. I can think of at least four different occasions when it happened to me.

The first time I would have been about twenty and was in a shop being served by a very pretty girl. I remember paying her and as she gave me my change she said “Thank you, Sir”. At first I thought she was joking, you only called older people Sir. I looked at her but she was already serving another customer. She saw me as an older person. All of a sudden I didn’t like the idea of being a Sir.

Fortunately it was many. many years before I was reminded again that the aging process was continuing. Jane our daughter had her first baby. I was a granddad. I was so proud of our new granddaughter, Natassia, that I had to tell everybody that got into my taxi the good news. Most male customers expressed their congratulations and swiftly turned the conversation on to football or politics. But just about every woman I told, said that I didn’t look old enough to be a granddad. That’s a nice thing to say I thought, but I didn’t think anymore about it.

However two years later along came another granddaughter, Simone. Once again I was so happy that I told everyone about our good news. Plenty of congratulations, but not one, I’ll repeat that, not one person remarked about me not looking old enough to be a granddad. I was definitely looking older. A few years later our third granddaughter arrived, our lovely Jemima. Once again all my passengers were told of her arrival, and of course many congratulations were offered, but by then I had accepted the fact I must be looking a lot older than I felt.

Then I started to notice that when I got on to a crowded train or bus, people were getting up to offer me their seats: I’m sure some of them were older than me.

So to bring my little tale up to date, the fourth and latest occasion. In a Costa Coffee shop last week the young lady who served me asked if I would like help to carry my tray to the table. I declined her offer and managed to say with a smile “Not yet dear–not yet”.

Doug Ryan

If I may be allowed to cap Doug’s story, I remember when I was about 30 I had dealings with a Local Government Officer who persistently addressed me as “Young man”, as in “How’s it going, young man?” I felt very prickly about this (his demeanour was a bit patronising actually). I thought “I’m not a young man, I’m all of thirty!” These days when someone, like the chap who cuts my hair, calls me “young man” I feel really flattered. Mind you he used to say, when he’d finished cutting my hair, “There you are 25 years younger”. Only now he’s reduced that to 10, and soon it’ll only be 5 or maybe just bleak silence.