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Church launches 900th-anniversary celebrations
WORSHIPPERS are preparing to mark their church’s 900th anniversary with a year-long programme of events.
St Nicholas Church, Wickham, was originally built at the junction of what is now the A32 and Southwick Road back in 1120. This significant milestone will be marked during 2020 with concerts to suit every musical taste, lectures, drama, craft, a pilgrimage and a specially-commissioned song.
And churchgoers launched their year of celebration with a special service before Christmas to remember the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. Bishop Christopher joined worshippers on the church’s patronal festival. Reflections on the past were presented by Jane Painter of the Wickham History Society, the rector and congregation members talked about the present-day church community, and the bishop spoke about his vision for the future.
Bishop Christopher also spoke to children from Wickham C of E Primary School about St Nicholas, and how his actions led to the traditional of hanging up of stockings for Santa Claus. He also talked about the work of a bishop, and pupils took part in a special workshop to make copes, mitres, pectoral crosses and crosiers to bring back into church before a final blessing.
The 2020 programme for Wickham 2020 includes a special weekend to mark Valentine’s Day on February 15-16. There’ll be vintage wedding dresses on display in church all weekend, and a ‘Love Is All You Need’ service at 2pm on February 15. You can wear your wedding outfit and renew your vows for that service, with Prosecco and refreshments afterwards.
There’s a Call My Bluff evening on March 20, a concert of gospel jazz on April 4, 900 years of English music on June 6, an open gardens afternoon on June 20, the Wickham Fete on June 13 and summer lectures from four experts in their fields throughout June and July.
On April 30, the parish will launch its new “Song for Wickham”. It has been commissioned by Wickham Parish Council and written by Steve Knightley, from the folk/roots duo Show of Hands. A specially-formed community choir will sing it for the first time in public at the Parish Assembly in Wickham Community Centre at 6:30pm.
Later in the year, there’s the bishop’s quiz and supper evening on September 21, a craft weekend from September 25-27, a jazz evening on October 3 and a pet service on October 4. After a Harvest Supper on October 17, a murder mystery evening on November 13, and Botley Choral Society in concert on November 21, the year of celebration will end with a special service and the switching on of the Christmas lights in Wickham Square on December 6.
The celebrations also include the launch of the Wickham Cookbook, featuring favourite recipes from local residents; and an exhibition of Wickham’s history in the church and a history trail in the grounds. There's also a special pilgrimage to see the Oberammergau Passion Play, which re-enacts Jesus’s life, death and resurrection.
The rector of St Nicholas, the Rev Jane Isaac, said: “Sited at what has always been a major crossing point of people’s journeys and lives, St Nicholas’s Church has seen and served very many generations of Wickham residents, witnessed the flow of our nation’s and world’s histories and been a place where people have come in search of meaning and purpose in their lives.
“The programme of special events has been put together by the St Nicholas 900 planning team and local community groups, and made possible by the generous support of Wickham Parish Council and individual sponsors. Most of the events and activities will be free of charge and any ticket costs will be kept as low as possible.”
Southwick Road, Wickham, PO17 6HP