Let the organ thunder and the bells ring out!

The celebration of the 150th anniversary of the installation of our fine organ in Littlehempston church was a tremendous success with the church packed on both days to hear some wonderful music. For the Saturday concert, Let the Organ Thunder – Let the Trumpet Blast, we were fortunate to have Dr Noel Tredinnick, organist and director of music at All Souls, Langham Place, London, deliver a rousing and accomplished concert of works by, amongst others, John Stanley, Purcell, J.S.Bach, Torelli and Handel. Dr Tredinnick (pictured far right), whose reputation is international and has family connections with Littlehempston, stayed on to conduct a Littlehempston in Praise event on the Sunday, when we sang some old favourites and newer hymns. On both occasions we were privileged to hear talented young Brazilian trumpeter, Izalni Batista Nascimento junior, who had travelled down with Dr Tredinnick. At the Sunday service, when our own organist Mark Ekert accompanied us, we also enjoyed beautiful solos by local soprano Clare Lash-Williams. In all, a wonderful weekend of music and celebration which we shall remember for a long time.

This all took place on the first weekend of June. On 12th June 1868, such a large congregation gathered for the inaugural service that many could not get into the church. More than 20 rectors and vicars of all the neighbouring parishes were present. This was a result of efforts by the Rev Fitzhenry Hele, rector of Littlehempston for 50 years in the 19th century. After the service, a cold collation for 300 was laid out in the barn at nearby Grattons Farm. This was owned at the time by the Evans family, who were all extremely musical, and who sang in the church choir and played the organ. Their grandchildren later presented a stained glass window to the church in their memory; it has three panels showing St Cecilia, St Gregory and King David.

We didn’t have a cold lunch for 300, but the quality of cakes and refreshments was highly commended and a magnificent £907 was raised to support the church and Community Space. Many thanks to all involved in putting on such a special event and, in particular, organiser, Jenny Galton-Fenzi.

The funds raised during the two concerts have given an enormous boost to church and Community Space funds. Some of the money raised will be put into a fund recently set up to raise money for new bell ropes for the church. There has been renewed interest in getting the bells of Littlehempston ringing out again on a regular basis, but new ropes are urgently needed. Around £1,200 is needed – appealing suggestions on fundraising welcome.