The Parish of Sutton Waldron
About us: We are one of the smallest parishes with census population of 200, predominantly from professional and managerial backgrounds. The majority of householders are owner occupiers, the remainder in social and private rented housing. Most are incomers, do not have strong local ties, and are from a white European origin. We have neither pub nor shop but there is a very active village hall which, together with the parish church, form the village foci.
Historically Sutton Waldron was an agricultural community but now few work on farms. There is little or no unemployment and work opportunities are mainly in the service sector. It is common to commute to work in towns within a 30 mile radius. Many residents are retired and are involved in a wide range of voluntary organisations and activities both inside and outside the village. There are many artists, musicians and craftsmen who add to a population of diverse talents.
There is a friendly, cheerful and supportive community atmosphere here.
Such is this spirit that, when four dwellings in the village were destroyed by
fire in 2011, the residents turned out, en masse, to assist in the rescue of
the contents and furniture. For this, the village was given an award by the
Western Gazette newspaper.
Our Church - St Bartholomew’s is an early Victorian building which I
widely admired for its interior which is a rare surviving example of the work
of the graphic and interior designer Owen Jones, who was particularly
influential at the time of The Great Exhibition in 1851. The building was
completed in 1847 and in its life has been written about by Sir John
Betjeman and painted by John Piper. The building is mostly in good repair
and should not need major repairs or maintenance in the near future. The next quinquennial is due next year. The moveable pews and excellent acoustics make the building very suitable for many uses.
We have one churchwarden and six members of the PCC. Some years ago they took the decision that there would always be a service in the church every Sunday, come what may. Some have been lay led and the quarterly, Let’s Celebrate gathering attracts many non-church goers and has been very successful. We are particularly anxious to encourage the younger members of the village and have taken a number of successful initiatives to make service formats more attractive to those new to the church, without alienating the more traditionally minded. There are 24 under 16s in the village of whom 17 attend church when asked to take part. We also have 8 regular young attendees from outside the village. We have 34 on the Church Electoral Roll and our average attendance for Share purposes is 22.
Lent groups are held each year and are open to all. Easter workshops on Good Friday are held with around 20 children making their Easter Gardens and Bonnets for display and judging at the well-attended Easter Service itself. LPA work includes visiting all and working with children.
The annual Harvest Supper is very well attended by the whole village. Monies raised go to charity. Other functions arranged in company with Village Hall committee are held periodically.
Money is tithed each year to sources chosen each year by the PCC
The Christmas Eve pageant is famous throughout the Benefice and beyond and has been happening for nearly 25 years, often with more than 30 children taking part. The progress through the village, beginning with Mary, Joseph and the donkey, moves from point to point at each of which carols are sung and variously, angels, shepherds and kings all join the throng. It culminates with a tableau in the church where there are more carols and prayers. The occasion usually attracts over 250 spectators from near and far, one donkey and several sheep and lambs. Monies raised go to NSPCC and Shelter.
Other goings on:
We have a link with Southern Sudan and Bishop Francis has visited on a number of occasions.
Other projects such as Holiday clubs, Messy Church and the Christmas experience are shared with the other villages.
There is a vibrant society of Friends of St Bartholomew’s whose aim is to support the fabric of the church building. It involves nearly everybody in the village and it enables those members of the village who do not normally attend church services, but are interested in the wellbeing of the church building, to play their part. The considerable funds raised greatly reduce the financial burden of the church upkeep, much to the relief and gratitude of the PCC.
The PCC is enthusiastically researching grants for improving and developing the church building. Projects in hand include: further improvements to church lighting, installation of a sound amplification system and repair of our historic church pews. Each year the DHCT 'Ride and Stride' event to help raise funds for the Trust is enthusiastically supported.
There are a number of activities run in the village. These include monthly coffee mornings, a weekly art club, monthly WI meetings alternating with Iwerne Minster, a quarterly cinema club, monthly craft and design club for UnFinished Objects (UFO). These are well supported by church and non-church goers alike.
Our renowned dance group, ‘Steps in Time’ introduces children to traditional Dorset dance. They perform at many local venues and international festivals Europe wide, meeting weekly to practice in the village hall.
Steps in Time performing in St Bartholomew’s
In summary: We are a caring and supportive community which is eager to embrace the faith and guidance of our new vicar.
Our church wardens are Caroline Marsden (01747 811406) and Rod Swift (01747 811755)