The benefice of St Margarets churches.-The Churches of St Margaret's Benefice
Gargoyles at Canterbury Cathedral
During the half term holiday, Canterbury Cathedral ran a free children’s activity making clay Gargoyles. So the two grandchildren and I set off for the day. I used my Canterbury Cathedral pass. We turned up in good time. We followed a mother and child who looked as if they knew where they were going. Sure enough there were two stone masons carving gargoyles outside the Visitor Centre. We were at the right place. We were met by a lovely Canadian lady who sat us down, showed us the tools, showed us examples, and gave us some soft clay with which to work our masterpieces. Gargoyles aren’t the prettiest of faces so we did our worst. Yes me too, I wasn’t going to miss out on the fun.
Round the walls were colourful posters of Cathedral life, and a short history of the times. In the adjoining theatre there was a film running to show how gargoyles are made. It was interesting to see the real thing in the making. I wish I had paid more attention at this stage! It was a short film but you will understand I had one eye on the grand children. I remember seeing the original being dipped in lime wash. The stone mason would take a block of stone and fashion a replica of the clay head. The stone masons showed great dexterity. Deep groves were made to create shadow on the faces, so the details could easily be seen from the ground below. The last task was to drill a large hole through the mouth to act as a water spout.
Look at the picture of two identical heads. The one at the back is the original. The one at the front is the stone masons copy made with chisel and stone. Look at the finer detail, and deeper carving. The stone mason has done an amazing job.
We were then offered the chance to carve our initials on to a quoin stone to be used as a replacement on the west face of the south west tower. So we all had a go. The initial “S” requires quite an amount of dexterity to shape round the curves. Practice makes perfect. It is more difficult than you think. We were given a map to show the location of where the quoin stones will placed. A6 and A13 are our stones.
Our clay gargoyles had to be left for a period of time to dry. So we took a trip round the Cathedral. The guide on the door gave Emily a Tomb Trail leaflet showing the floor plan and items to look for. We were told about a new excavation in the Cloisters revealing the original tile flooring below the paving stones. We looked at the modern very colourful Bossanyi stained glass windows, and windows showing bible stories. We went up into the quire. We looked at the tomb of the Black Prince, and the prayer niches nearby. Have you ever noticed them? The shape of the stone absorbs the sounds of the spoken prayers of those kneeling side by side.
The children were quite keen to see the martyrdom. Kids!
We went out of the door to the cloisters and looked at the newly revealed 13th century red tile flooring, with its fleur-de-lys pattern and couldn’t leave without having a look at the modern stained glass infill at the top of the tracery window, on the far side of the cloister. It shows sheaves of wheat. It’s worth a trip round the cloister. Have you missed this tracery window?
We passed the magnificent horse statue in the grounds, on our way back from lunch and collected our gargoyles before we left for home. The team were delighted to have had a stream of 200 people a day coming in to participate in the free children’s activity.
There is so much work in progress at the Cathedral, so much going on. If you haven’t been to Canterbury Cathedral lately it is worth another visit.
As we step into the New Year, and we start to see the first signs of Spring, so the calendar begins to fill up with exciting events in and around the Benefice.
The change in start time for the Saturday Services to 11am seems to be working well, easing the pressure of 'clock-watching' on our lovely families.
March will be a busy month, with six key things happening at St Margaret's alone. First, we will have the Saturday Service on the 3rd March, followed by Mothering Sunday Craft Morning the next Saturday (10th). Mothering Sunday is, of course, the following day on the 11th March.
On the 23rd we have St Margaret's Big Night Out, where we will be sleeping out down in the Bay for one night (7pm to 9am) to raise money for Porchlight, Catching Lives and Dover Outreach Centre – three charities that do so much to help the homeless and vulnerable in our local area. This event is open to all adults who are up for the challenge, and if you want more information just email firstname.lastname@example.org for registration details, keep an eye on the Parish News and posters going up around the villages. We really would like as many people as possible to take part as this opens up the widest network of possible sponsors – and I'd like some company!
The following day, Saturday 24th, is our Children’s Easter Craft Morning in St Margaret's Church, with a slightly later start time than normal of 11am, to give me time to get home from the sleep-out first! Always a lovely family event, so please do come along. We will be making palms in readiness for Palm Sunday the following day, and we are delighted that Arthur and Smithy, the Shetland ponies, will be leading our Palm Sunday procession into church again!
Phew! That should keep us busy for March, and perhaps allows us to pause for breath during Holy Week as we contemplate the build-up to Easter Sunday the following week.
So to summarise:-
Saturday 3rd March – Saturday Service, St Margaret's Church 11am
Saturday 10th March – Mothering Sunday Craft Morning, St Margaret's Church, 10am to 12noon
Sunday 11th March – Mothering Sunday Services
Friday 23rd March – St Margaret's Big Night Out, St Margaret's Bay 7pm to 9am
Saturday 24th March – Easter Craft Morning, St Margaret's Church, from 11am
Sunday 25th March – Palm Sunday
That should keep us going for a while!* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Looking for a practical present for someone? Want something that will contribute to the benefice? Then look no further than our new St Margaret of Antioch tea towels and cloth bags. At just £2.00 for the bags, £2.50 for the tea towels, special rate of £4.00 for one of each, they are sure to delight and perhaps be a lovely reminder to those no longer living in the area. They are available after most 10.00am services at St Margaret's, or call Sandy on 852265.