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Local News

Christmas spirit still abounds.

Unsettling news from around the world, General Election campaigns and Brexit, bad weather and floods and the everyday crises which face us all – you might be forgiven that the Christmas season is a long way off. But believe it or not, Wretham is looking forward to the festive season.

By December 1st, the village church of St Ethelbert will have the traditional decorated Christmas tree at the front of the nave, ready for services of Christmas worship.

And for those who feel the need especially to remember a loved or lost one with a special message the church will again have a Memory Tree in its porch from the start of the season of Advent on December 1st.

Local people are invited to write their message on one of the coloured angels which can be found with the small tree in the church porch.

The tree and its messages will remain in place through the Christmas season.

The trees and remainder of the church will be decorated during the week before December 1st.

 Anyone who has spare holly which could adorn the window sills inside is asked to leave it in the porch during that time.

By the time twinkling lights festoon the fronts of local houses, the Village Hall Christmas lunch will be eagerly looked forward to by Village Hall regulars on December 10th.

And the true spirit of Christmas is abroad on Sunday December 22nd – just three days before Christmas Day – in the annual Carol Service held at the village church at 5pm. It will be taken by the Rev. Nigel Ransom, with carols interspersed with readings and followed by mulled wine and mince pies.

A warm welcome is there for everyone to join in an hour of candle lit carol singing.

On Christmas Day, there will be a service of Holy Communion –also lit by candles, in the church at 9.15am, led by the Rev. Tony Heywood.

Czech and Polish WW2 fliers remembered at Wretham.

Around 100 people attended the short but moving service of remembrance at the war memorial outside the gates of St Ethelbert at Wretham.

The Rev Tony Heywood led the service during which the Exhortation was read before a two minute silence followed by the Kohima dedication.

Andy Reeves played the Last Post and as the Royal British Legion, RAFA and Air Cadets standards were marched to the 14 war graves in the churchyard, piper Stan Hebron played a lament as he led the remainder of those attending to the graves.

The Rev Heywood gave a blessing, the names of the war dead read out and two poppy crosses were placed at each grave.

Among those attending to lay wreaths were Wretham Parish Council chairman Harold Smith, Breckland chairman Lynda Turner, Thetford Mayor Brenda Canham, Watton Mayor Pat Warwick, defence attaches from the Czech, Slovak and Polish republics, Brandon Town Council chairman Victor Lukaniuk, David Fitt for the Wretham and Hockham RBL,  Anthony Polak of the Memorial Association for Free Czechoslovakia, Peter Nahodil of the Czech Association and representatives of the Wretham and Hockham RBL and RAF Honington.

Classic cars at Wretham.

Over 100 classic cars of all kinds parked up at St Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham on one of the stops along the way for the Diocese of Norwich annual classic car run.

The visitors came in a steady stream over four hours to look round the Victorian church, with church secretary John Kitson as their guide.

Meeting planned over church future.

The Bishop of Thetford (the Rt. Rev. Alan Winton) has instructed the Archdeacon of Norfolk (the Ven. Steven Betts) to call a meeting with his Rural Dean and other clergy to see what can be done following Wretham St Ethelbert’s request to move out of the Thetford benefice and into another one.

No Harvest Supper at Wretham this year.

Because of the ongoing difficulties, the annual Harvest Supper at Wretham this year will not take place this autumn.

However the usual Harvest Thanksgiving service in the church will be held Son Sunday September 15th (9.15.am).

Village church seeks a new home.

The church of St Ethelbert at Wretham is to ask the Diocese of Norwich if it can move out of the Thetford benefice, where a team ministry officiates for it and five other churches, into another one.

The move was agreed at a special meeting at the church, attended by 25 parishioners. It discussed a range of options for its future but, after 90 minutes of discussion led by acting secretary John Kitson, 19 of those present agreed the best move would be away from the Thetford benefice where they have been a member for 20 years.

The decision to take action follows three and a half months of deep unhappiness at the attitude of the Rector (the Rev Dr Peter Herbert) to one of the Wretham church wardens.

The meeting came after talks between Mr Kitson and his wife, recently retired after 22 years as a churchwarden, with the Bishop of Thetford (the Rt. Rev. Alan Winton).

While he favoured a rapprochement between church and minister, the anger among the congregation has been such that a different solution was sought.

Five regular members of the congregation, which can normally run up to 30 for a regular service, have stopped attending, others are thinking of doing so and, the meeting heard, that financial giving to the church had “dropped through the floor”.

New names to fill council seats.

There will be no election process for Wretham Parish Council after all.

Sufficient candidates have come forward to complete a full complement of five.

Led by chairman Harold Smith, vice chairman Sharon Ford, who is now to remain,           and Paul Barley, the full number will be completed by retired farmer and engineer Paul Barnard from Illington and academy principal Jon Ford from Wretham.

They will take their positions at the May meeting of the council.

Pictured behind chairman Harold Smith (left) ansd clerk Julian Gibson are Paul Barnard, Jon Ford, Sharon Ford and Paul Barley.

Eileen retires after 22 years as church warden.

At the end of a joyous Easter Sunday Holy Communion service at St Ethelbert, led by the Rev Tony Heywood, Wretham church warden Eileen Kitson retired after 22 years of faithful and hard working service.

A congregation of 50 saw her presented with a very substantial cheque, masses of flowers and a very special painting of St Ethelbert’s church, produced by Wretham Lodge owner Gordon Alexander, who has taken up the pastime in retirement.

There was a special cake and sparkling drink to add to an occasion where church treasurer Julian Gibson offered warm praise for the hard work and beneficial effect that Eileen has brought to the church over so many years.

Before three rousing cheers, Eileen thanked all the members of the church, especially husband John, for the hard work and support that had enabled her to do the job successfully. She also paid tribute to the three church wardens with who she has worked, Elizabeth Ann Haynes, Ann Stronge and Ian Salter.

She prayed that the current difficulties would pass and the church and its close knit congregation could carry on in the very same way.

Record attendances at Wretham church and gardens.

The supportive spirit between church and village was underlined at Easter as 886 paying visitors arrived to enjoy the gardens of the old rectory at Wretham, now Wretham Lodge and the home of Gordon Alexander and Ian Salter.

The two men, who have been staunch supporters of St Ethelbert’s Church, opened their ten acres of gardens under the National Gardens Scheme, and will send nearly £4500 admission money to charity.

At the church, the togetherness and team spirit of congregation members was exemplified by two days of strenuous work, parking, welcoming and serving refreshment over six hours on both days.

Church funds will benefit by nearly £1700 from their efforts with visitors drawn from a wide area of Norfolk and Suffolk.

There was a musical bonus on East Monday as members of the Occasional Gardens Singers, already booked for a spot in this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, gave two hours of a capella singing ranging from madrigals to Irving Berlin.

No power – no music!

A sudden power failure mean that the Morning Prayer service at St Ethelbert at Wretham went ahead with half the heaters and half the lights – and, especially, no power in the vestry and no organ.

Reader Jean Rolph led the service with all canticles and responses being said – while organist John Richens moved from the organ stool to  a front pew and gave an introductory note to the congregation, which then sang all three hymns a capella.

Happily, the power remained in the services area throughout, so tea and coffee could be enjoyed as usual. And UK Power Networks later corrected an outside fault in the supply which had also affected the Old School opposite.

Wretham Village Hall is 50 years old.

April 19th 2019 sees the golden jubilee of a village facility still an important part of activity in the centre of Wretham.

The present Village Hall replaced an old army hut, a relic of the First World War, after local people set about fund raising from 1960.

By 1966 a public meeting agreed on the scheme and by 1967 work could start after about £1000 was raised by villagers, with a donation of £500 and Norfolk Education Committee grant of £3891. Total cost was £82000 and £7000 had been raised when it was officially opened by Lord Fisher of Kilverstone. W. and  J.B. Eastwood, who established a chicken rearing business in the village, made a seven year cash contribution.

Since then, the hall has been extended and improved, with catering grade kitchen and storage, new toilets and disabled facilities. Most recently, exercise equipment has been installed in the grounds and the first stage of car park resurfacing completed.

There are no plans to have a special  anniversary celebration –the hall is busy enough with major village events throughout the year, private bookings  and regular  functions, including Tai-Chi, bowls, lunch club, Pilates, Keep Fit, art and craft clubs and pastel art sessions, as well as Parish Councl meetings.

IF you want to know more, Wretham Village Hall has its own website, bookings officer is Diana Brooks-Smith on 01953 498 320 or email hallforhirewretham.org

Church at Wretham re-sets its sights.

With the encouragement of its new team rector, the Parochial Church Council at St Ethelbert, Wretham, looks to 2019 as a year where it reaches out and joins in even more.

Encouraged by the Rev Dr Peter Herbert, making his first visit to a Wretham PCC meeting since his appointment, all agreed the value of members of the churches in the benefice meeting together more often to encourage across benefice relationships.

More locally, steps are to be taken to reach more people.

Among ideas floated were to invite new people in the village to church functions. They will be aware of the church’s history and present day role through the welcome lack put out by the Parish Council, after work from Sharon Ford, who has been nominated to replace Eileen Kitson as a church warden in April.

But they could be approached about functions like the Summer Party at Wretham Lodge on July 7th, Harvest Supper and Carol Service later in the year.

Another idea was to attract the interest and support of family members who regularly and increasingly attend graves in  the churchyard.

Ideas on how to proceed will be discussed at the April meeting of the PCC.

Carols at Wretham

St Ethelbert's Church, lit as every year by well over a 100 candles, saw about 50 people enjoy it annual carol service. The church had been beautifully decorated over several days by Joy and Julian Gibson, An hour or more of lessons and carols were followed by mulled wine and mince pies in a service led by the Rector (The Rev Dr Peter Herbert). A collection during the service will mean £200 going to the Children's Society.

Wretham Memory Tree.

St Ethelbert will repeat its Christmas memory tree from the start of December until Epiphany, giving individuals the chance to write a message or memory on a card angel and hang on the tree during the season. Messages can be to those living or dead and, while it will be in the church at services, the tree, spare angels and a supply of pens will be in the church porch daily over the period.

Remembrance at Shropham.

Wretham Parish Council chairman Harold Smith placed a wreath from the people of Wretham on the indoor war memorial at Ss Peter and Paul Church at Shropham on Armistice Day, when the Wretham and Hockham Royal British Legion standard led local members and a good collection of worshippers in the special service for the branch’s local villagers.

It was led by the priest in charge, the Rev Christina Mason and the village wreath was later transferred to join the others at the war memorial in Wretham.

Poignant Armistice Day visit to Wretham.

Three family descendants of 2nd Lieut Marc Noble paid a poignant Armistice Day visit to St Ethelbert’s church at Wretham.

On the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, architect Matthew Pease and his son Felix from Kinross, Scotland, and his brother Adrian Pease from Tacolneston in Norfolk, saw for the first time the French grave marker and photograph of the 20 year old officer who was killed on July 1st 1917 and lies at a military cemetery at  Ferme-Olivier in France.

He was the son of Saxton and Celia Noble of Wretham Hall, originally built by Sir Andrew Noble in 1911.

The two brothers, who are great great grandsons of Sir Andrew, were shown round by church warden Eileen Kitson and secretary John Kitson and were also able to study the memorial to Marc Noble on the south nave wall, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and the war memorial outside the church gates.

A milestone in memory.

The rain stopped and the sun beamed down as around 75 people remembered the debt they owed to Polish and Czechoslovak aircrew who flew from Wretham during WW2.

The Rev Helen Jary, vicar in the Thetford team ministry and chaplain to Thetford Royal Air Forces Associaton branch, emphasised the example these men set during wartime for people today to seek to serve one another.

It was the 15th anniversary of the ceremony introduced by the RAFA and in the 100th year of the formation of the Royal Air Force.

The event, which had nine standards on parade from RAFA, Air Training Corps and Royal British Legion, saw wreaths placed on the war memorial and poppy crosses planted at the 14 war graves in the churchyard. 

Detailed research this year also meant that each of the Czech graves had a picture of the individual named, although those of the two Polish casualties could not be traced.

Bugler was Andy Reeves and pipes were played by Keith Andrew.

The ceremony is regularly supported by the Czech, Slovak and Polish embassies, along with the Mayor of Thetford Roy Brame, Wretham Parish Council chairman Harold Smith and a range of representatives from support groups.

Grandson of one of the Czech aircrew, Pavel Hamberger, travelled from his native country to join the day.

They were all thanked later in the Village Hall by RAFA chairman John Macpherson who, like St. Ethelbert’s church, was given a pair of Bohemian glass flutes from Czech Republic attaches, as a memento of the special occasion.

Wretham to look afresh at churchyard maintenance.

Members of the PCC agreed to have a January discussion on the best way forward for churchyard maintenance after John Kitson announced that he would retire at the end of this season, his 13th in the last 14 years.

Age and health have forced retirement and he expressed his thanks to George Stronge and latterly Jon Ford their assistance at some points in the work. He is to make an appeal locally for a volunteer to take over but the PCC will consider in the New Year if there are easier alternative ways of caring for the churchyard.

The church awaits a damp meter test to the central arch to see if it will be dry enough to repair.

A smart meter is to be fitted in the church to do away with officers being called to admit meter readers.

Meanwhile signs are to be replaced or changed at different points of the churchyard.

It was agreed to pay £10,000 of the £13,200 parish share request for 2018 and to seek discussion on the way the benefice share request is divided between parishes.

First arrivals on Wretham development.

With half of ten new build homes sold, the first two families have moved into Wretham’s largest single development.

What was Stonebridge Green has now been renamed Mill Stone Green, to distinguish it from other areas close by carrying the Stonebridge label.

Whatever it is called, the new residents of the 27 home estate which virtually doubles the number of homes in this main part of the village, are happy to be here.

They are Matthew Ward and Ellie Moriarty, both Norfolk born, who met at the UEA. He has pursued a career in insurance and she in publishing. They chose Wretham because they wanted to return to the county after working away, needed to be in a rural area and because it is equidistant from their work bases in Norwich and Cambridge.

Just further along are Alan and Wendy Ralph, who have moved back to the area from Bournemouth. Wendy was raised in Thetford while her father was stationed at RAF Honington while Alan also finished his service career at the same base.

They have been married for 35 years, have married son and daughter and wanted to come back to this part of the county, having close friends at Stow Bedon. He will continue his career a as a driving instructor.

Wretham harvest celebrations.

Around 50 villagers and visitors enjoyed the annual Harvest Supper in the Village Hall, organised by the church at Wretham but aimed at anyone wanting a bargain night’s food and fun.

It included five hot dishes, with accompaniments, followed by a choice of sweets and hot drinks.

Thanks came from the Rev Tony Heywood at the end of an evening where a non profit making fiver a head function still turned a profit for church funds of over £250 – largely due to chefs seeking no recompense for their work!

Abrey Farms had provided baking potatoes for the night and also boxes of vegetables to boost the decoration in St Ethelbert for the following morning’s Harvest Thanksgiving service led by the Rev Nigel Ransom in a building filled with flowers by Sara Banham. The congregation paid into church funds to take away vegetables, with the remainder being delivered to an appreciative John Room House in Thetford after the weekend.

A very long yarn comes to Wretham!

Not exactly “How long is a piece of string?” but more like how long a piece of yarn can be woven – that is the challenge being set  by Mary Watkins and a group of fellow weaving enthusiast this coming month.

They are part of a group called BritSpin and over the weekend of October 13th and 14th they will settle down with their spinning wheels at her home at Ye Old Forge on Hockham Road, Wretham, IP24 1SD.

The aim is twofold – to see just how long a stretch of yarn can be spun over the period and, with it, to see how many breeds of sheep can have their wool incorporated into the project.

The public are very welcome to drop in at The Old Forge between 10am and 4pm on both days to watch progress – and to take part in a fun sweepstake with prizes to guess the answer to both questions. All proceeds go to Air Ambulance funds.

Czech war history enthusiast in Wretham.

WW2 history enthusiast Ondra Gero paid a flying visit to Wretham with his wife Kamila as they spent part of their summer holiday in the UK taking a look at history and artefacts of 311 Sqadron.

The squadron was based at Wretham airfield during WW2 with Wellington aircraft being flown by Czech and Polish aircrew.

Mr Gero’s grandfather had fought on the Eastern front and later moved to Prague from Russia.

His grandson has developed a love of war history and he and Kamila, aged 43 and 40, had already visited the Imperial War Museum in London and the RAF Museum at Hendon.

The couple from the Czech Republic’s second largest city of Brno – he works in logistics management and she in insurance -were shown round the church and graveyard with its Czech and Polish war graves by PCC secretary John Kitson, accompanied by local military history enthusiast David Fitt.

Mr Fitt later took the couple to see what remains of the airfield at the back of the current Wretham Nature Reserve.

The Geros were to complete their holiday in the Yorkshire  Dales with a flying visit to Huddersfield, where Mrs Gero was, when younger, an au pair.

Family remembers fallen WW1 relative.

Arthur William Currey is one of the 15 names of local men who fell during World War 1 to be found on the Wretham war memorial.

He was the subject of special remembrance at St. Ethelbert’s Church nearby.

The There but Not There see through figure is one of the many silhouettes being placed around the country during the 100th anniversary year of the conflict.

Arthur was a private in the Royal Norfolk Regt and in 11 Bn. Royal Sussex Regt. when he died on October 21st 1916. He has no known grave but is remembered on the memorial at Thiepval in France.

Sisters, Pamela Harris, from Worboys, Cambs and Shirley Wallis, from Risby, near Bury St Edmunds, are Arthur’s descendants. He was a cousin to their grandmother and one of two boys in the family to go to war and be killed.

He lived in Wretham as a boy, when his father was gamekeeper on the estate and his parents lie in the churchyard.

The sisters placed a similar memorial in the church at Little Cressingham, Arthur’s birthplace and home to another family member and WW1 victim. The figures will remain until the end of the anniversary year.

Mrs Wallis and her husband David attended Morning Prayer, where reader George Lynne offered prayer in memory of Arthur, dedicated the memorial and led a minute’s silence, followed by the singing of Jerusalem, a sermon on the futility of war and music including Nimrod by Elgar and Land of Hope and Glory.

Another great evening out.

The annual Summer Party at Wretham Lodge drew 95 people from the village and other local areas and made a profit of over £1300 for St Ethelbert’s Church funds

Organised by church members, its guests were able to wander through the magnificent grounds of Wretham Lodge, the former rectory and the home of Gordon Alexander and Ian Salter for nearly two decades.,

The two of them mingled with guests on a sunny evening where the gardens were in magnificent condition.

A raffle organised by Sharon Ford produced over £270 of the total profit on the evening, where wine provided by the hosts and the usual large cold buffet was enjoyed by everyone.

At the end of the evening, church warden Eileen Kitson thanked those attending, those who had provided much of the food and, especially, their hosts.

St Ethelbert finds a place on a musical map

Musical notes made up from its coordinates on an Ordnance Survey map will mean the church at Wretham will have a special place in a musical composition being made up by a retired Cambridge lecturer and music tutor.

Kevin Flanagan, a 65 year old who hails from News Hampshire, USA, has been teaching in Cambridge for over 30 years after coming to the UK on his marriage.

A professional musician and session player with a leaning to jazz, Kevin took time out to get post graduate qualifications and ended his career teaching music at Anglia Ruskin. He lives in Hundon, Suffolk.

His speciality is the soprano saxophone, made famous in jazz by the late Sidney Bechet, and it is this instrument he used as he walked the Peddars Way making a short recording of notes in every church he came across, each time using the OS coordinates of the building to find his notes.

His plan when the walk and recordings – in a hand held digital stereo recorder – are made in all the churches, is to turn them into a musical piece where he can be backed by a string quartet.

There is every chance he could come back to Wretham to play a concert in St Ethelbert, including the very special themes recorded on his walk.

Church warden starts a final year.

Wretham St Ethelbert church warden Eileen Kitson has begun her 22nd and final years in office after being re-elected at the annual meetings for the church.

She and Ian Salter will continue in office but Mrs Kitson said she hoped during this year to delegate an increasing amount of work and was grateful to Sharon Ford for offering to take on her role in a year’s time.

All the other officers and members of the PCC were re-elected.

The Electoral Roll stands at 18, of whom 11 are resident in the village and the last financial year saw a loss of £6395, with less income and a year of greater expense.

Much of the necessary work had been done to the building and it was hoped summer would finally dry out a chancel arch damaged by water penetration.

Meanwhile fund raising needs to start as the church looks to put a new roof on the 152 year old building.

The church will take part in  the Celebrating Churches fortnight between July 27th and August 12th.

The Summer Party is on June 30th, Harvest Supper on October 6th and Carol Service on December 16th.

Welcome visitors to St Ethelbert.

Sutton’s Charterhouse in London has long been one of the patrons of the parish church at Wretham so there was a special welcome for two of its Brothers who, with a friend, were spending several days in the East of England visiting churches with a Charterhouse connection.

Stephen Green, his brother Dudley and Brian Nelson were shownround St Ethelbert by secretary John Kitson and then enjoyed a tour of the gardens of Wretham Lodge, the former Rectory, as the guest of church warden Ian Salter.

Weather hits all the hard work at Easter.

Rain, cold and winds scarcely enhanced the Easter celebrations at Wretham but, after an Easter Day service taken by the Rev Tony Heywood and attended by 44 people including five children, Wretham Lodge gardens were open to the public for two days.

In St Ethelbert the church was quickly reordered to offer hot and cold refreshment, mountains of home-made cakes and the usual large used book sale.

Sunday was by far the more successful day as visitors came to see the National Gardens Scheme gardens at the former rectory, now Wretham Lodge.

Easter Monday’s bad weather prevented all but a small number of visitors attending – but over the two days, the total attendance at the gardens was around 200, which meant just over £1000 went to NGS charities.

At the church,  where visitors came in for a warm as well as the other

things on offer, the two days yielded trading in refreshments, books,

church guides and donations of just over £500.

Thanks to everyone for all their efforts.

John Cracknell.

Donations in memory of John Cracknell, who died at the age of 88 and was buried in  the churchyard at Wretham have totalled £661.95.

Mr Cracknell’s relatives have expressed their gratitude to so many people for their support and generosity and the church of St Ethelbert, to whose funds the collection will go, have also thanked everyone for their kindness.

St Ethelbert looks for long term work.

Despite the news that net income was down over the last period, the PCC at Wretham has set its sights on a major project to improve for the long term the church building inside and out.

The church has had external repairs completed on the crossing between nave and chancel but the whole roof now needs renewing.

The PCC concluded the best approach would be to attempt a major improvement scheme, where reroofing could be followed by inside repair and lime washing, and upgraded electrics, lighting and heating.

Such a scheme would involve careful study of permissions, grants and fund raising required and would take some time to complete. Early SSinquiries will take place soon.

First appeals were made for cakes and volunteers to man the church over Easter, when the Wretham Lodge gardens are open to the public.

The Lodge will again be the venue for the church Summer Party on June 30th.

It was agreed anyone within the benefice be invited to use the popular Wretham church memory tree when it is installed again next Christmas.

The PCC agreed to process two requests to reserve grave spaces in the churchyard for 30 years.

Christmas at Wretham.

The Christmas Day service of Holy Communion at St Ethelbert saw 35 in the congregation, with all of them taking Communion in a service led by the Rev Nigel Ransom.

The church was again candlelit for the occasion and the building and tree decorated by Julian and Joy Gibson.

At the Communion service of Epiphany in January, Mrs Gibson brought to the chancel steps the butterflies from the Memory Tree, on which people had written messages to their departed loved ones and placed on the tree, which stood in the porch throughout the period..

The basket of butterflies was placed on the altar after a prayer from the Rev  Helen Jary..

Carol service at St. Ethelbert.

Over 100 candles twinkled around the church as the Wretham congregation welcomed a gathering of over 80 folk for the annual carol service.

Traditional carols and readings were given in a service led by Mr George Lynne and mulled wine, mince pies and sausage rolls were enjoyed afterwards.

After expenses, the collection went to the Rohingya refugee appeal and, with a previous donation, the church has now sent over £205.

Illington service.

The Rev Helen Jary led the patronal service for St Andrew at Illington for a congregation of just 11 people.

The service was also on Christ the King Sunday, the last in the church calendar before the start of the new liturgical year in Advent.

A collection was taken for the Norfolk Churches Trust, in whose care the church building remains, after a service at which lessons were read by Eileen Kitson and David Wells.

War dead remembered at Larling.

A small bird and a buttefly moving in the sun filled chancel of St thelbert at Larfling moved the Rev Caryll Brown to mention the existence of living and freedom at the start of the annual service of remembrance for the Wretham and Hockham branch Royal British Legion.

 Nearly 50 people from various local parishes attended, with poppy wreaths being laid at the font inside the church during the service.

The priest emphasised that there was small point in remembering if we did not learn from what we remembered.

Everyone needed forgiveness, “We have to stop looking for someone to blame and start to take responsibility ourselves”, she said.

In the picture RBL branch chairman John Howard lays the first wreath.

Wretham’s foreign war dead remembered.

The importance of service to others, even to the extent of offering it in another country, was stressed by the Rev Helen Jary as she spoke to a gathering of about 80 people outside St Ethelbert’s Church.

She was leading the annual ceremony to honour the Czech and Polish aircrew who flew from East Wretham airfield and gave their lives.

The occasion was again organised by Thetford Royal Air Forces Association and some 13 wreaths were laid on the memorial outside the church gate, including those of RAFA and Royal British Legion branches, Wretham Parish Council, Thetford Town Council, RAF Honington, military staff from the Czech, Polish and Slovak embassies in London and and number of Czech and Polish organisations.

After The Last Post was played and silence kept, people walked into the chuchyard to plant poppy crosses at the war graves in its north east corner, led by standards representing Royal British Legion branches from Wretham and Hockham,  Thetford and Stanton,  RAFA branches at Thetford, Dereham and Swaffham, Bury St  Edmunds, Diss and Wymondham and Thetford (1109 Squadron) ATC.

St Ethelbert at Wretham may need major repair.

Repairs currently being carried out to the roof of the 152 year old church building of St Ethelbert at East Wretham have shown a potential threat of major work being needed. The cost could be nearly £67,000

Church warden Ian Salter told the latest meeting of the Parochial Church Council that nearly £4000 was having to be spent currently on the crossing between nave and chance,l as faults on the outside had let in water.

Before the faults can be sealed, parapet stones which have become loose will have to be removed and replaced over the sealing material.

But staff at Roudham based Aspect Roofing have told Mr Salter that the main part of the roof is now in poor repair and  even many of the tiles are  in a bad state.

The church has received an initial estimate of the cost of re-roofing the whole of the church building of over £64,200 with possible extra £2,500 spending required on timber and other work.

The PCC agreed that, despite attracting 66 visitors to its Open Sundays in August and part of September, it would look next year to have St Ethelbert included in the Norwich Diocese Open Churches Week.

It was agreed to send an initial £100 to the Disaster Emergency Committee for transmission to the crisis of the people of Mayanmar, making a total of £700 in charitable donations during 2017.

The church will repeat its successful Memory Tree for December. Standing in the church porch, it will have coloured butterflies available for people to write a message to remember loved ones, as well as the usual decorated tree inside the church.

Itv was agreed that, having paid £10,000 of its Parish Share demand, the church could not contribute  further to the Diocese in the current year.

Open days at Wretham.

The 2017 experiment to lengthen the number of Sundays in August and September where St Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham was open to visitors for five and a half hours each time proved a qualified success.

While attendance by visitors, several of them from some distance, ranged from few to several, the overall total over the six open Sundays was 66.

Donations and sales of the church guide produced a modest sum for church funds. More importantly, the 152 year old church building was seen and admired by many who had never visited before.

Manor Farm build hits more opposition.

Plans for some of the new homes on the Manor Farm Barns site on Church Road have again run into opposition from Wretham Parish Council.

Three new homes are planned for that part of the road which runs to the north of the site and is partially overlooked by Wretham Manor.

Original plans for a terrace of three affordable homes have been scrapped and currently there are three individual detached houses planned on the same area of the site.

One is being built and, with three bedrooms, priced for sale at E500,000.  It is the smallest of the three. The one to its north east side had four bedrooms planned and the developers now want this increased to five with rooms in the roof space with skylights facing into the site.

The last one along, closest to the gate to the Manor, is now planned to increase from three to four bedrooms, although the north side of the building, facing the road and the Manor, has a garage at ground level and no outward facing windows over it.

The council, aware that the Manor owners have objected to the development in general and to these latest attempted changes, has also refused to support them, because of closeness to the road and over development of the site.

It is also to object to changes to the plans to turn the Barn into two homes. The corrugated roof has now been dropped in favour of pantiles but members still objected to the wall cladding, stainless steel windows and ”industrial” chimney.

Big blaze at Viridor waste recycling plant.

More than 90 fire fighters from Norfolk and Suffolk tackled a major fire at the waste recycling centre of Viridor Ltd at Larkshall, Wretham.

Fire broke out in the early hours and continued for most of the day. Temperatures reached around £600 degrees inside the large former mill building.

At the height of the blaze there were 14 fire appliances from the two counties in operation.

Tankers were also engaged to ensure water used to dowse the fire did not enter the local water course. No-one was injured in the incident, which saw the main road closed for a spell.

Two local crews returned for about three hours the following morning to further extinguish some small hot spots.

Wretham villagers celebrate harvest.

About 50 people from the village and surrounding area enjoyed a festive night at the Village Hall when members of the village church invited them to the annual Harvest Supper.

An array of mouth watering hot dishes and accompaniments were followed by fruit salads, apple pies, meringues and ice cream, tea and coffee, meaning a menu (let alone second helpings!) was the usual bargain at a fiver a head.

George and Christine Price, churchwarden Eileen Kitson and Sharon Ford took charge in the kitchen while the meal was followed with the traditional quiz presented by John Kitson. Winner, after a tie break, was. She and her partner were attending their first Harvest Supper.

Also making a welcome appearance was former churchwarden Eugene Gudgin and Beryl Batts, now living at Outwell, while the Rev Tony Heywood offered grace and thanked all those who had helped stage the event.

The following day, there were 38 people in St Ethelbert’s Church for a Harvest Thanksgiving service led by Mr George Lynne from Shropham.

Among those boosting the attendance were two Australian holidaymakers staying in the village and three members of the Nicholls family from Elmswell, celebrating the parents 30th anniversary of their marriage at Wretham.

The generosity of Abrey Farms meant the church had a very large amount of vegetables on display, alongside those contributed by church members.

After the service much of the produce was sold off in bags, while the remainder was given to charity.

The income from Saturday night was nearly £300 and another £90 came from the Sunday service, which was useful for a village church currently undergoing repairs to its roof, as well as a very happy weekend.

A new man on the churchyard mower.

After nearly 14 years of maintaining the churchyard at St Ethelbert at Wretham, John Kitson has retired.

The 78 year old handed over all his equipment – and a brand new Countax ride on mower bought by the church, to Malcolm Stoodley.

At the end of a service of Morning Prayer, there was a surprise for Mr Kitson when church warden Ian Salter spoke warmly of his efforts and presented him with a case of assorted wines, the gift of the church.

Praising his dedication for keeping the churchyard in an immaculate condition, Mr Salter suggested that it was very likely the best cared for village churchyard in the Diocese.

Mr Kitson, married to a church warden and himself church secretary for 12 years, thanked Mr Salter and church members for their kindness. He also expressed gratitude to church member George Stronge, with whom he first strimmed, cleared  and  individually mowed a churchyard often the home of sheep or geese; to Abrey Farms for the gift of a first ride on mower; to church member Jon Ford for more recent help; to the Parish Council for its financial backing; and to his wife for her regular arrival with lunches while he worked!

Recalling that it could take around nine hours each fortnight to strim mow, trim, weed and tidy the churchyard – and longer when he broke off to show unexpected visitors around the church building- there was also mole catching and weed killing to do.  Mr Kitson said he had loved to care for the churchyard, a task which gave him pleasure and, happily, church members and the general public.

Later that morning he turned over all his equipment and a brand new Countax ride on mower, bought this time from church reserve funds, to Malcolm Stoodley, retired airline pilot who moved into the village in recent years.

As Mr Kitson remarked earlier, Mr Stoodley was a young man – at only 65 he hoped he would enjoy years of churchyard maintenance ahead of him.

Another splendid summer evening.

The clouds broke, the weather was warm and almost 90 people took advantage of the gardens at Wretham Lodge and the attendant hospitality at this year’s Wretham St Ethelbert Summer Party.

The kindndess of owner Gordon Alexander meant that guests could tour the lovely gardens, enjoy the wine he had provided for them and partake of the traditional extensive cold buffet.

A raffle produced over £280 and, after all expenses, the evening raised £1245 for church funds, as ever the largest single amount from one event during each Church year.

Former rector performs a dual role.

The Rev Canon Bob Baker, Rector of the Thetford team ministry until retirement last October, returned to Wretham St. Ethelbert to perform a dual responsibility- giving away his daughter’s hand in  marriage – and carrying out the ceremony.

Hannah Baker married Jonathan Briggs in a ceremony watched by family and close friends.  The groom’s best man was his son and the chief bridesmaid his daughter.

Canon Baker and Hannah and the attendants arrived at church in vintage cars driven by Chris and Robert Abrey.  During the opening hymn, the former Rector donned his robes in the vestry and returned to carry out the service.

After the signing of the register, he took off his robes and joined the wedding procession as it left church to a reception at Croxton Park.

Open Sundays at Wretham church to extend this summer.

After a successful experiment in 2016, when St Ethelbert’s Church was kept open on Sundays during August, a repeat of the scheme this year is to be extended.

As well; as having someone in the church from 10am to 4pm each Sunday to offer a welcome and offer refreshment during the four Sundays in August, the scheme will extend into the first two Sundays in September.

Normally St Ethelbert is closed apart from services but can be swiftly opened on a request to either church warden.

Bell Tower. There was disappointment that the scheme to enclose the bell tower with a lower timbered portion and glazed upper section will not now go ahead.

The Victorian Society had weighed in with immediate opposition to “an intrusion into a Victorian church building”, despite the fact the church already has a modern kitchen and disabled toilet.

The Diocesan Advisory Committee had been willing to allow the lower section but not the glazed upper portion.

The scheme had been devised to improve the look of the rear of the church and increase the comfort from continual cold draughts. The PCC is now to look the at the possibility of draught proofing the belfry floor to stop cold wind blowing out candles when in use, create extra comfort and cut heating bills.

Maintenance: Church warden Ian Salter said all major work detailed in the Quinquennial Inspection had been completed, although there were a number of minor items to be done and work on the crossing arch between nave and chancel.

Interregnum. The post of Team Rector is to advertised on May 26th and interviews of any applicants will take place in July.

Church regrouping. The Archdeadon of Norfolk is to be advised that the PCC is in total opposition to a scheme suggested by Shropham to draw together a group of country parishes including Wretham, which left a similar grouping to join the Thetford Team Ministry 21 years ago.

The Annual Meeting was told in a report from treasurer Julian Gibson that there was a financial profit of £8,431, in a year which saw a large individual donation, fewer weddings but more grants from grave space faculties, a further one of which was approved by the PCC.

Church warden Eileen Kitson, who presided, said attendances at services during 2016 averaged 30, with 22 communicants. She and Mr Salter were re-elected church wardens, Mr Gibson treasurer, John Kitson secretary and Electoral Roll Officer and Joy Gibson Deanery Synod representative. Other members of the PCC were re-elected, with the addition of Sharon Ford. 

Apart from the May 20th concert in the church by The Upper Octave (£10 tickets available from 01953 498 609), other dates fixed for the year include Summer Party July 1st, Harvest Supper September 16th and Harvest Thanksgiving the following day, Carol Service December 17th.

Wretham Community Speed Watch

On Saturday 22nd April 2017 we did another community speedwatch session for just over an hour. In that time 501 cars passed our point of which we only logged & reported 2 to the police to receive letters. We also trained 3 more new members. The idea is to have a higher presence in the village to remind people to keep to the speed limit. If anyone else wish to join our team there is always space. You can contact Joy or Will on 01953 498752 or email joy.townsend@btinternet.com 

Easter visitors flock to the village.

The beautiful gardens at Wretham Lodge and the warm welcome at St Ethelbert’s Church proved an Easter magnet for garden enthusiasts over the holiday weekend.

The weather and growing conditions turned out to be absolutely right for the gardens surrounding the 1810 built former rectory, with tulips especially in wonderful display.

The gardens were open as usual as part of the National Gardens Scheme and drew visitors from a wide area.

Over the two days, 480 people toured the gardens and the weekend saw a total of £1920 in admissions and £13 donations go to NGS charities.

At St Ethelbert, church members were kept busy over the two days welcoming people for refreshments and home-made cakes. The influx on Easter Monday, when the sun shone all day, meant emergency runs had for fresh cakes - even paper plates and napkins ran out as visitors arrived to relax and make us of a big used book sale.

At the end of two days, the church had profited by £913.49, a record amount. Wretham Lodge owner Gordon Alexander said they had been thrilled with the level of support and church warden Eileen Kitson warmest thanks to Wretham Ravers and friends for wonderful floral decorations in the church, everyone who cooked and all those who turned out to work over the two days.

Christmas at St Ethelbert’s Church.

Over 80 people enjoyed the annual service of lessons and carols at St Ethelbert, Wretham, led by the Rev Nigel Ransom and followed by the traditional mulled wine and mince pies.

On Christmas morning there was a congregation of 27 for the service of Holy Communion, led by the Rev Helen Jary.

Local villagers remember the fallen.

A gathering of about 45 people from Hockham, Larling , Shropham and Wretham gathered at St Ethelbert, East Wretham, on Remembrance Sunday to remember the dead of two world wars and other conflicts.

The Rev Tony Heywood led prayers outside the church at the war memorial, before Wretham and Hockham branch Royal British Legion secretary and treasurer Miles Howard read the Exhortation and names of the fallen, followed a two minute silence.

Wreaths were laid from representatives of the four villages before the congregation moved into the church for the remainder of the service, during which the Legion standard was laid upon the altar, readings were by Mr Howard and Rebecca Leech and a collection was taken for the Earl Haig Fund.

Czech and Polish war dead remembered at Wretham.

Steady rainfall kept those attending to a little over 60 people – but the air of sober and heartfelt contemplation was just the same as Wretham remembered Czech and Polish aircrew who lost their lives while flying from the village during WW2.

The Rev Helen Jary led a service at the war memorial, where wreaths were laid by military personnel from Czech, Slovak and Polish embassies, the people of Wretham and Thetford, RAF Honington, ATC, Royal British Legion and RAFA.

In addition, this year were wreaths from the Czech Air Force Association and from the Polish community in Brandon, presented by local district councillor Victor Lukaniuk.

Bruce Day and Mike Dean played the Last Post and Reveille and Watton piper Richard Daplyn played a lament during the usual two minute silence.

RAFA secretary Ray Towler read the RBL and Kohima dedications and parade marshal was Mick Luke

In the Village Hall later, RAFA treasurer Nigel King thanked the village, including church and those who regularly provide refreshment and gave mementoes to the uniformed visitors from the London embassies.

Wretham “a special place” for retiring Rector.

The congregation at St Ethelbert, along with other villagers, paid a fond farewell to retiring Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) and his wife Glynis at his last service of Morning Prayer.

Wretham, he said at the start of his last sermon, had been a very important part of his 11 year ministry in charge of the Thetford benefice, which includes, Wretham, Croxton and Kilverstone as well as the churches in Thetford.

“We are immensely grateful for the time we have spent in these parishes, especially Wretham”, he said as presentations were made. “This is a special place for us and you have made us very welcome and it has been such a joy living and working with you”.

The church was decked with blue and white flowers and ribbons for the day and church warden Eileen Kitson remarked that Canon Baker had been in post not quite as long as his favourite Ipswich Town football team had spent in the Championship!

He had left an indelible mark on the life of the church and benefice and she thanked him for his Christian witness, preaching, good humour and unfailing kindness and generous spirit. She also thanked Glynis for her years of service on the PCC – and for being the most prodigious raffle ticket seller the church had ever seen!

The Bakers received a bound copy of pictures taken at this year’s Summer Party, the gift of Jon Ford, a Wretham rose from churchwarden Ian Salter, flowers  from church secretary John Kitson, and National Garden Scheme tokens for £850, the gift of local people from in and outside the church family.

Rector offers thanks to church council.

Retiring Rector of the Thetford team benefice (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) warmly thanked the Parochial Church Council of St Ethelbert at Wretham when he chaired his final PCC meeting.

He singled out both church wardens Eileen Kitson and Ian Salter and also PCC secretary John Kitson, as well as saying how grateful he and his wife Glynis were for the kindness and care they had received in the village since 2005.

There were thanks from Mrs Kitson to both of them and inquiries now begin to co-opt a new member of the congregation to the PCC on the departure of Mrs Baker.

Major repair works to the church have now been completed but some smaller matters remain. Minor repairs around the churchyard include straightening two large concrete posts outside the front gate and installation of a new churchyard regulations noticeboard at the car park entrance to the churchyard.

The Church Guide has sold almost all its initial 300 print since 2010 and Mr Kitson is now to revise the content and arrange for a further 200 fresh copies to be printed.

Tracing family history.

Recent visitors to St. Ethelbert at Wretham came all the way from Nashville, Tennessee, seeking to trace family history following the deployment of American flyers at East Wretham airfield during WW2.

Dudley and Peggy Richter were accompanied by Sussex based David Lee, an Imperial War Museum tour organiser at Duxford, and were coming back to the places where Mrs. Richter’s father served during the conflict.

Major David Steine served with the American 8th Air Force and was part of 448 Army Service Corps, whose role was to maintain the airfield, from which Thunderbolts and Mustangs flew, following the change of role during the war from it being the home of Czechs and Poles flying Lancasters.

They had studied a Thetford memorial to American personnel as well as that on the Wretham war memorial and were shown round the church by secretary John Kitson. Later they went to the former Rougham airfield near Bury St. Edmunds and Duxford.

Happy and successful harvest celebrations at Wretham.

A record number of 60 people enjoyed the traditional Harvest Supper at Wretham Village Hall.

Organised by the church, it still attracts about half its audience from villagers who are not part of the regular church congregation and there is a great pleasure in staging an event which brings local people together.

Also in the hall this year were the party of five Swedish visitors whose church is twinned with St Cuthbert in Thetford. Instead of a normal Grace from Canon Bob Baker he led a chorus of a harvest hymn before tackling the mouth watering array of hot dishes, baked potatoes, vegetable, puddings and coffee.

John Kitson staged the regular quiz, won this year by Jon Ford after a tie break with Carol Morpeth. A raffle, with tickets sold in great number by Glynis Baker, produced £163 towards a profit for church funds of £316.50 on an evening designed to be affordable pleasure rather than a fund raiser.

The Rector thanked all those who worked hard in the kitchen, notably George and Christine Price, and John and Eileen Kitson for the work put in to stage the event.

Canon Baker led the following morning’s service at St Ethelbert, with a sermon preached by the Rev Tony Heywood and attended by 43.

The church was filled with flowers by Sara Banham and Abrey Farms, who had produced a sack of potatoes for baking the night before, filled much of the area around the font with boxes of produce, just as they do for harvest thanksgiving at Larling and at their own Suffolk village church. At Wretham, it was added to by individual contributions from the congregation.

After the service, much of the produce was bought by those attending, making a further £73.75 for church funds. What was left was then donated to John Room House, in Thetford, a charity which offers rehabilitation to homeless young people.

Repairs start at Wretham.

Major repairs have begun to the outside fabric at St. Ethelbert. Carried out as part of the latest Quinquennial Review, they carry an estimated cost of £11,000.

Builder James Ladell, of Coney Weston, has already seen re-pointing to the northwest corner, to be followed by similar work at the north east.

Then comes the major part of the work this summer, repairing a crack in the flint wall of the 150 year old church tower. The extent of the work will not be fully known until a closer examination

The PCC, agreeing to raise its Parish Share giving to £11,000 this year, is to press at meetings with the Diocese that a 15 per cent year on year increase in the share is unsustainable and that serious concern continues about the proliferation of full time posts being created at Diocesan level.

After 12 years, church secretary John Kitson is mowing and trimming the churchyard for his last season, having received an offer from a village resident to take over the task in 2017.

Meanwhile, it seems likely that a voluntary effort may solve the problem of the upkeep of the overgrown churchyard at St. Andrew at Illington. The PCC had been given money by the Parish Council for a cut to be done commercially but this may hopefully not now be required.

Weekend of celebrations at Wretham.

A weekend at the latter end of July saw double celebrations at Wretham.

The usual Sunday service of Morning Prayer was especially adapted by the Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) so it contained a thanksgiving for the marriage of David and Jeya Wells, of Illington, who celebrate their Golden Wedding later this year.

It also marked the renewal of marriage vows for Jon and Sharon Ford, of the Station House, Wretham, first married 17 years ago that weekend.

The service saw a church filled with family and friends of both couples as well as members of the regular Sunday congregation and a dozen singers from East Harling, which led the hymns and performed, under the conducting of Wretham church treasurer Julian Gibson, the anthem “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”.

Those attending enjoyed refreshment provided by both couples, including celebration cakes, while flowers in the church reflected both the golden date for the Wells and white roses for the Fords, carried by her on their wedding day and again here.

The previous day, local people had joined the Wells family and friends at Illington for a celebratory lunch party.

Later that afternoon the church saw another big congregation of family and friends as Katie-Jo Mandy Rumball was baptised by the Rev Helen Jary.

At the same service, her parents, Dan and Kate, of Middle Farm, Wretham, renewed their marriage vows.

August open church experiment at Wretham.

Normally closed but opened readily on request, St. Ethelbert at Wretham opened to visitors during the four Sundays of August.

The exercise attracted around 50 people to the Victorian church over the four Sundays, with visitors coming from Kings Lynn, the Norwich and Bury St Edmunds areas and more locally, with the longest traveller a holidaymaker from the Netherlands.

While visitor numbers were modest, all of them were genuinely interested in the building and its surroundings, including the display of memorabilia on Czech and Polish aircrew which flew from Wretham airfield during WW2.

Former church organist at St Mary at Watton, John Phoenix, paid a nostalgic visit on the fourth Sunday to play in the church once again

He was organist at Watton for 22 years and has held a similar post at St Mark, Lakenham, in Norwich, for the last 15. The 76 year old remembered that, during his time at Watton, he was called on to play at a midnight service at Wretham on an Easter Saturday - and was delighted years later to return to the keyboard.

Village church tries to encourage visitors.

The VIctorian architectural gem which is St. Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham (IP24 1RL) is using August as a month for an experiment in raising visitor numbers.

The 150 year old church, set in the only Conservation Area in the 300 population village, holds two services a month and, while it is normally closed at other times, can be opened for anyone who wants to see inside. When regular mowing operations are under way in the churchyard, visitors often ask to tour the building.

In August, an experiment will see St. Ethelbert open on each of the four Sundays, 7th,, 14th, 21st and 28th, between 10.30am and 4.30pm, when church members will be on hand to welcome people, offer refreshment and answer questions.

The church has a display in its north aisle focussed on the role of Czech and Polish aircrew who flew from the village during WW2 and a fully illustrated 72 page guide book, first published in 2010, is on sale for £3.

Fine night for Summer Party.

Earlier fears of a washout as torrential rain hit the village were unfounded as St Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham staged its annual summer party at Wretham Lodge, at the invitation of owner Gordon Alexander.

The 80 plus visitors took the chance of a fine evening  to tour the NGS gardens of the former rectory before settling in for a convivial evening, with their host providing wine and soft drink and a dining table packed with buffet food for every taste, produced by church members.

The evening made a profit of £1199, not least through the efforts of Rector’s wife Glynis Baker with a raffle, which produced over £300.

It was appropriate that, when the Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) drew the winning numbers, both he and his wife each gained a prize at this, their last Summer Party before retirement.

Wretham to look to grants to aid church repair.

With £11,000 of the £26,000 worth of repair work needed to St Ethelbert at Wretham, the annual meeting agreed it was time to seek grants to help with the cost of remaining work.

Most serious are the repairs needed to replace cracked masonry in one of the tower walls. All the work needed to preserve the 150 year old Victorian building was highlighted in its most recent Quinquennial Report.

In a review of the year, church members noted a financial loss of £2900 for, while income rose by 27 per cent, expenses, notably the repairs, had gone up more.

Churchwardens Eileen Kitson and Ian Salter were re-elected. Mrs Kitson, who said this 20th year would be her last in the post, reported average attendances at regular services of between 25 and 30.

At the following PCC meeting, she was re-elected vice chairman, Julian Gibson treasurer and John Kitson secretary and Electoral Roll officer.

There was anger at the Victorian Society’s obdurate opposition to plans to enclose the bell tower but over the year other things had been done, including lightweight spare chairs, cleaning and sealing the tiled floor and giving twice as much to charities as the year before.

The Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker), whose last annual meetings these were as he looked to retirement in October, thanked Wretham church people for being “so very caring and helpful”.

The Summer Party is on July 9th, Harvest Supper September 17th, Harvest Thanksgiving  September 18th and Carol Service on December 18th.

Local couple remembered during church service.

Former organist at St. Ethelbert, Wretham, Jean Ure, and her husband Bobby were remembered during a Morning Prayer service at the church in April, attended by their closest relatives, from France and Australia.

Long time members of the communities at Great Hockham and Wretham, they had lived at Hockham since the 1970s. He had moved to this part of the world with the Forestry Commission and she as a school teacher.

Mr Ure served in WW2, in particular taking part in the Battle of Kohima. Mrs Ure, who was head teacher at Holme Hale school and, for 15 years, was church organist at Wretham. She also served as PCC secretary and representative on both Deanery and Diocesan Synods. He died in 2004 and she in 2012.

The Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) said special prayers and hymns were chosen by the family. The previous day, their ashes were scattered at Hockham and, at at the Wretham service, tributes were paid by Robbie Malabar from Australia and Jean-Marie Faugeroux, who came from France with his wife Beatrice and brother Paul.

Clean for the Queen.

The sheer amount of litter than can be collected from roadside verges around Wretham no longer surprises any of those who go collecting it.

So when 16 people donned reflective jackets and picked up bags and litter picking tongs to Clean for the Queen they got exactly what they exptected.

The special clean up designed as a local activity in aid of the Queen’s 90th birthday, yielded a huge pile of plastic sacks containing all kinds of rubbish in a successful couple of hours of a Saturday morning.

The cheerful volunteers were then entertained to bacon rolls and other welcome refreshments at Station House, the home of Parish Council member Sharon Ford.

Plans to open Wretham church more to the public.

While there is always a warm welcome for anyone visiting St. Ethelbert at Wretham, whether at a Sunday service or as a casual visitor, the PCC has agreed with a suggestion that it should be open more for people to visit at weekends.

As a start, the PCC backed a suggestion from Jean Gray that it should look at opening the church for visitors all day during Sundays in August.

The church will also be opening, serving refreshments, for Sunday and Monday May 1st and 2nd, when Wretham Lodge gardens are open under the National Gardens Scheme. Wretham Ravers members and friends will decorate the church with flowers as they normally would when the church and gardens opening falls at Easter.

The St Ethelbert Summer Party at Wretham Lodge will be on Saturday July 9th.

Treasurer Julian Gibson said finances had finished better in 2015 that earlier feared– but although income had risen 27pc, expenses (largely one off repairs) had risen by 65pc, bringing an end of year deficit of £2900 and a need to dip into reserves.

With the demand from the Diocese for a further 15pc in Parish Share, it was agreed to pay £1000 a month until October and then decide how much more could be afforded.

The PCC agreed with a suggestion from Margaret Linge that, as well as the traditionally decorated tree in church at Christmas, a small Jesse tree should be put in front of the font, on which people might leave messages to loved ones.

The PCC approved three requests from members of the Trumpess family to take out 30 year faculties to reserve grave spaces in the churchyard, which currently has sufficient spaces for about 60 years.

Spirit of Christmas by candle light at village church.

A candle lit St. Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham was filled with a congregation estimated at around 120 people on the last Sunday before Christmas for its annual service of lessons and carols.

The Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) led the service, at which church members read the lessons.

A collection which annually is given to the Children’s Society, produced £381.

The service was followed by the chance for the congregation to mingle over mulled wine and mince pies.

Lunch Club celebrates Christmas early.

Members of the Village Hall Lunch Club along with a number of guests, enjoyed a home cooked Christmas meal before December 25th, where the Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) said Grace and, after lunch, thanked all those who had cooked and served for the occasion.

Everyone left with a jar of damson jelly, the gift of Mrs Elizabeth Ann Haynes.

Wretham wreath laid at local service.

The annual remembrance service for Wretham and Hockham Royal British Legion saw people gather this year at St Peter’s Church at Shropham on Remembrance Sunday.

The service and address was led by the Rector of the Shellrock Benefice, the Rev Michael Langan, and wreaths were laid at the war memorial within the church.

The wreath from Wretham was laid at the memorial by parish councillor Ann Schofield and was later transferred to its permanent site on the memorial outside St Ethelbert at Wretham.

A small number of Wretham villagers joined the Shropham congregation.

Clear memories on a grey morning.

The strains of three buglers playing the Last Post faded away and the only sound during two minutes of silence was the smattering of raindrops on autumn leaves.

Earlier heavy rain cut the attendance at this year’s tribute to Czech and Polish aircrew who flew Wellingtons from East Wretham airfield during WW2 and are buried in a corner of St Ethelbert’s churchyard but approaching 60 people stood in the damp greyness of a November morning to honour their memory.

In a ceremony staged by Thetford branch Royal Air Forces Association, the Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) led a short service at the war memorial before Mayor of Thetford Robert Kybird led wreath laying.

The parade, with six standards from Royal British Legion, RAFA and ATC then moved to the war graves, where poppy crosses were planted.

In his address, Canon Baker recalled those who had and were laying down their lives but urged that prayer should also be offered to diplomats from all countries trying to bring lasting peace in the world.

The last post was sounded by three buglers from Stowmarket Boys Brigade band. Wreathes were laid by representatives from the Czech, Slovak and Polish embassies,  Free Czech Air Force, RAF Honington, RAFA, RBL, ATC, Wretham Parish Council and Thetford Town Council.

Later in the village hall, RAFA chairman John Macpherson handed engraved tankards to the three representatives of the embassies involved and thanked everyone for their part in the morning.

Flying in from the Czech Republic especially for the ceremony was Pavel  Hamberger, whose grandfather is among those buried in the Wretham war graves He placed a wreath on the grave.

Wretham church raises its charitable giving.

St Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham will hope to give some £1400 to charities by the end of 2015.

Its Parochial Church Council agreed individual grants of £350 to Marie Curie Nurses, World Vision for Syrian refugees and St Nicholas Hospice, while the Children’s Society would normally benefit from a similar amount from the carol service in December.

Faced with a 15 per cent rise in its Parish Share, the PCC agreed to pay £10,500 this year of the £11,500 demand, having paid in full for several years up to this point.

The Upper Octave concert was successful and well attended, raising £364; the 150th anniversary costs were only £150 after major donations from several individual church members; and the Minton tiled floor of the church looks much improved after £720 worth of restoration work.

It was agreed other work detailed in the Quinquennial Report on the church fabric should be pushed ahead with while funds were available.

It was also agreed that, having been once turned down, the PCC, through churchwarden Eileen Kitson, should have a second attempt to get a faculty for five years to enclose the bell tower at the rear of the church in glass and timber.

Night time burglars take £7000 of gear.

Even stronger security measures are to be put in place by Bindy Dixon at her Wretham village centre equestrian units at The Windmill.

It comes after night time raiders broke into a modern barn and took away nearly £7000 worth of tack and other gear.

Mrs Dixon said it included eight saddles, horse collars and a bicycle. The thieves targeted leather items and left synthetic ones – even though one synthetic saddle was the most expensive.

Police think the intruders may have made an earlier inspection of the site and arrived during the night of Saturday/Sunday September 27th/28th. Apparently, they parked in the Village Hall car park and made their way across the field rather than a gravelled yard, not waking Mrs Dixon’s dogs.

They entered a stable block, jemmied a range of five combination locked doors to storage units, loaded all their stolen gear onto a hay barrow and pulled the barrow to the fence between field and car park. They were in such a hurry they left two collars hanging on the fence.

While Mrs Dixon is insured for much of the loss, she said that even stronger security measures would now be installed at the buildings. But, she sadly reflected as she warned others with similar premises to be on their guard, if thieves were determined to break in they would.

Popular entertainers back at Wretham.

The six members of Upper Octave were back in St Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham two years after their first successful concert – and once again produced a hugely entertaining show.

Entitled Bizet to Broadway, it featured their usual eclectic mix of music, greatly enjoyed by an audience of around 75 people and even though they had to make enforced changes to their programme when one of them had a throat problem during the show.

The Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) paid eloquent tribute to their performance and the evening made a profit of£363 for church funds.

Major milestone in Wretham church history.

Sunday September 13th saw a major milestone in the physical history of the church of St Ethelbert at East Wretham.

The third church to be built on the site - the other two were early English and then Norman – it celebrated the 150th anniversary of its consecration, with a special service at where local people welcomed the Bishop of Norwich (the Rt. Rev. Graham James).

He joined members of the congregation and guests, the choir of St Cuthbert, Thetford and worshippers from the local benefice, at a specially written rededication service led by the Rector (the Rev. Canon Bob Baker). One of the hymns sung in 1865 was used again.

After the service, those attending enjoyed a glass of wine and a celebration cup cake topped by a picture of the church, before regular Wretham congregation members and special guests were invited to lunch at the former rectory, now Wretham Lodge.

The church, rebuilt because the former Norman building proved too small for the local congregation, was designed by London architect William Armstrong and built by Robert Bartram of Aylsham.

The nave was paid for by the Wyrley Birch family, then living at Wretham Hall, and the chancel by their son in law, the Rector (the Rev James Park Whalley).

Ian Wyrley Birch, one of several descendants of the Victorian benefactors who attended the occasion, joined church secretary John Kitson in reading lessons.

Costs of staging the anniversary celebrations were virtually covered by generous donations from individual members of the congregation.

Council comes out against further speed limit on the A1075.

 

Members of Wretham parish council have come out strongly against a suggestion that the A1075 has a 50mph speed limit installed all the way from the 40mph limit at the top end of Stonebridge at Wretham continuing beyond Watton to the outskirts of Shipdham.

Ann Schofield described the proposal from Norfolk County Council as “a really stupid idea” while Jean Gray said the A1075 was a nice road to travel on “and I do not think it wants this kind of limit”.

Earlier during the public question time session, Joy Gibson, herself a JP, said she did not think such a move would have any safety implications and people could drive more dangerously if they were irritated by being held up”.

The county council suggestion has been put out to individual parishes along the route for their views and Wretham councillors were universally opposed to the change, particularly the plan to include a speed camera near the Griston crossroads, which they felt would have little effect other than to be a money earner.

New research into local men who died in the Great War.

A hugely detailed look at the 14 men from East and West Wretham who lost their lives during the first world war has just been published and added to the archives at the church of St Ethelbert at East Wretham, where the men are commemorated on the village war memorial.

It is the work of Cynthia Budd of Shropham, who spent about four months on the research and production of the 56 page work. It follows similar work on memorials at Shropham, Larling and Snetterton, with Great Hockham the last on the list of memorials remembered every November as the Hockham and Wretham branch of the Royal British Legion moves its remembrance service around the villages.

It is also part of an Imperial War Museum online project on the lives of those who fell in the Great War.

It details the names of the 14 men, shows examples of the medals they received and a bronze memorial plaque and citations sent to next of kin on application, before dealing in great detail with the lives of all the men.

It carries pictures of the different war grave cemeteries abroad where the men are also remembered. Research has taken Mrs Budd’s attention to local towns and villages including Thetford, Cranwich, Hockham and Garboldisham as well as to Worcester.

There is also an especially touching section where, through the medium of the church Deanery magazine, the wife of the Wretham rector, the Rev Herbert Seddon Rowley, led a move to “adopt” a 1st Norfolk Regt soldier who had become a prisoner of war in Germany. It traces her efforts to send a weekly parcel to John Gathercole, whose home was at Docking in West Norfolk and several reproduced cuttings show that Mrs Rowley encouraged local children to write to him in captivity. Sadly, he died there in September 1918.

There is also a range of cuttings from the same magazine which continually reported on the careers and conditions of the men from East and West Wretham during the conflict – while one of the later passages refers to a public meeting in May 1919, where it was decided that everyone in the villages should contribute to a war memorial.

One of the last cuttings described the first service at which the names of the war dead were read and on Armistice Day the church bell being run at 11am and “all being invited to cease work and offer up a prayer for their fallen comrades” in an event which, it was hoped, would become an annual occurrence.

The book is on display in the church and can be seen, when the church is closed, by contacting PCC secretary John Kitson on 01953 498 609.

Summer Party another success.

The wind dropped, the sunshine came out to bathe the gardens at Wretham Lodge and over 90 people enjoyed the surrounduings, food and wine of the annual Summer Party for St Ethelbert’s Church.

Gordon Alexander, owner of the former rectory, and Ian Salter welcomed guests to their home and provided the wine for them while a huge array of food provided by church members was virtually cleared by the guests during the evening.

A raffle raised over £300 on an evening which saw church funds benefit by £1269. At the end of it, the Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) thanked the hosts and everyone involved for their hard work and support on an evening much enjoyed.

Czech aircrew exhibition at Wretham a great success.

A phenomenal amount of interest saw 380 people visit St Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham over ten days to see a 75th anniversary exhibition tracing the formation of Czech squadrons in the RAF during WW2.

The event was produced within the Czech Republic by Master of History Filip Prochazka, a member of one of the biggest military history organisations in Eastern Europe. It came to Wretham at the start of a tour which will see the 18 panels of words and pictures, in both Czech and English, travel to the Czech Embassy in London, Catterick in Yorkshire, Tain in Scotland, Manston in Kent and Exeter before returning for more displays in Prague and other towns in the Czech Republic.

During the time it was on display at Wretham, a request came from the Netherlands, where a historical group wanted to have it travel there for display. Visitors to St Ethelbert often came in clutching piles of photographs and memorabilia which there were keen to share with the organisers.

People have come to Wretham from all over East Anglia, many of them descendants of the men who flew Wellington bombers from Wretham. One of them, Steven Liska, travelled from North Wales with his wife and sister. His father, a wireless operator, met his mother in the Samson and Hercules ballroom in Norwich. Her family ran the White Horse, in Northgate Street, Great Yarmouth.

The generosity of those who visited and appreciated the exhibition saw sale of refreshment and especially donations produce £625 after all expenses, to be divided between the Czech history group and the church.

John Kitson, who publicised and organised the show at Wretham, was full of praise for the way volunteers had stewarded for three hour stints throughout the ten days, village people as well as members of the congregation.

Joe Harrod dies at 81.

Joseph William Harrod, a regular member of the congregation at St Ethelbert at Wrethm for a number of years, along with his wife Audrey, has died at the age of 81. He had been ill with cancer.

Born at Burnham on Crouch in Essex, he was a shop fitter by profession and examples of his work can be seen all over the country. He met his wife when she was student nurse at Charing Cross Hospital and he was being treated for ear problems. They married in 1955, have four children, 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Over the years they lived in Worthing and in Scotland and retired to Breckles in 1998.

Joe Harrod was a lifelong supporter of the Royal Antediluvean Order of Buffaloes, rising to national Grand Primo in 1976. He was a former president of Watton Rotary Club, former church treasurer at Breckles, local historian and a lifelong enthusiast for small boats.

He and Audrey had been on the Wretham electoral roll for a number of years and were regular attenders at the church, where he is to be buried.

More work to be done at St. Ethelbert.

The church building at Wretham is poised to have more repair work to its fabric.

After the successful conclusion of work to repair both sides of the roof crossing between nave and chancel, including the removal of the old boiler chimney on the north side, the PCC has now agreed to do further work highlighted in its architect’s Quinquennial Report.  This will see repair work to the lower part of the tower’s west wall. Inside, the plaster work of the chancel arch, damaged by damp before the crossing was repaired, will have to dry out fully before it can be restored.

In the bell tower, where the PCC was unsuccessful in getting Diocesan approval for its scheme to close off the opening in timber and glass, a number of minor works will now be undertaken to improve the area. They include better shelving in the existing cupboards, which will also benefit from a fresh varnish; the sound system electrics will be boxed in; storage generally reorganised; the current three stage ladder replaced with a lighter two stage one; the addition of 20 lightweight stacking chairs; and the repair and refurbishment to the existing curtains.

Some of this work will be undertaken by Mr Philip Foster of Hilda Raker Close – but first he is to strip, stain and varnish the Sir John Dewrance bench, which sits outside the church. It is hoped it will be back in place for Easter.

The PCC heard first details of the May 6th to 14th exhibition to be staged in the church. It is being brought over by a Czech military historian to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of Czech squadrons within the Royal Air Force, with 311 squadron flying Lancasters from Wretham being one of them.

The exhibition will then tour a number of sites in the UK, before returning for shows in the Czech Republic.

Members agreed to pay E1000 a month for ten months towards the request for Parish Share, with a decision being made on the remaining £1500 in October.

Apart from opening from 11am to 5pm on Easter Sunday and Monday, along with Wretham Lodge gardens, the church Summer Party will be on July 18th; the Bishop of Norwich will visit for a special service on September 13th, the day before the present church building celebrates 150 years since it was consecrated; The Upper Octave will return to give a concert in the church on September 26th; and  the Harvest Supper in the Village Hall will be on October 17th, with Harvest Thanksgiving the following morning.

Repairs completed at St Ethelbert.

Several weeks of scaffolding around the church at Wretham have at last gone after builder James Ladell completed repairs to the roof.

On the south side of the crossing, at the join of nave and chancel, new coping stones and mortar have been applied. On the north side, the old boiler chimney has been taken down and replaced with stone capping.

The work is designed to stop water seeping into the crossing joint and, once the interior plaster is dry, further work will be needed with some areas of replastering and limewash on both sides of the chancel arch.

Meanwhile, tenders are being invited for a major project to enclose the bell tower to create a more friendly and, more importantly, warmer and draught free rear section of the church. Plans have been lodged with the Diocesan Advisory Committee in the hope a faculty can be granted and the work go ahead in 2015, in time for the celebration of the church’s 150th anniversary in the September.

War dead remembered at village ceremony.

The need for people to stand together to combat evil forces just as UK and Eastern European colleagues did in World War 2, when very close friendships were founded as they confronted Hitler, was just as necessary today.

The Rector of Thetford (the Rev Canon Bob Baker) offered this view as he spoke to a gathering of about 80 people in front of the village war memorial at East Wretham.

It was the 11th year that special ceremonies were held to honour the men buried in 14 war graves in a corner of St Ethelbert’s churchyard nearby.

After wreaths were laid at the memorial, poppy crosses were planted at the graves, 12 of which are of Czech aircrew and two of Polish flyers. All of them flew from East Wretham and Honington airfields during the war.

The parade drew Royal British Legion and RAFA standards from across Norfolk and Suffolk and, after bugler Andy Reeves sounded The Last Post before the silence and exhortations and piper Dave Harper played a lament,  wreaths were laid by Parish Council vice chairman Mike White, Thetford Mayor Sylvia Armes and Breckland chairman Robert Kybird, as well as uniformed military attaches from the Czech, Slovak and Polish embassies, RAF Honington, the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Association, Thetford Royal Air Forces Association and Wretham and Hockham RBL.

Notable absentee from the ceremonies was Pavel Hamberger from the Czech Republic. He was due to visit this year to see the grave of his grandfather, Frantisek Binder, but the ill health of his elderly mother prevented him from travelling. He now hopes to visit Wretham in the spring at the anniversary of his grandfather’s death.

The Wretham and Hockham Royal British Legion wreath laying ceremony and service was this year held at All Saints Church, Great Hockham, on the following Sunday.

Harvest celebrations at Wretham.

Church members and villagers joined in the celebration of harvest time at Wretham over a weekend.

On the Saturday evening, the Village Hall hosted over 50 guests to the annual Harvest Supper. It took its usual format of lashings of good home cooked food, all for just a fiver, followed by a quiz.

While the evening was organised by church warden Eileen Kitson, Rodney and Margaret Back came over from Thetford to lend a professional catering hand in the kitchen, where they and others served a variety of hot dishes with baked potatoes and vegetables, followed by trifle, apple pie, fruit salad, ice cream and meringues. Even with some second helpings finding their way round the room, there was food to spare!

The quiz was organised by John Kitson and was won by the Rector (the Rev Canon Bob Baker), who thanked everyone involved for their work, not least those who had provided food and raffle prizes and the Abrey family, who donated a mountain of baked potatoes. Raffle sales from Bob and Glynis Baker produced £169 on an evening which made a profit of over £300.

The Abreys’ generosity also boosted a display of produce which included individual gifts from parishioners at the Harvest Thanksgiving service the following morning. Canon Baker led worship and over £61 will be devoted to charity after the sale of produce following the end of the service.

Summer party hits record heights.

A hugely successful evening saw the annual Summer Party raise a record sum for St Ethelbert’s Church at Wretham.

The kindness of Gordon Alexander and churchwarden Ian Salter saw 95 guests entertained for the annual event, which produced a staggering £1085, after expenses.

The venue allowed the guests to wander around the National Gardens Scheme surroundings of the Lodge, with a good number of prayers being answered as the rainy weather during the day turned into a dry evening.

Mr Alexander donated the wine for the evening and much of the huge buffet was supplied by church members.

Another of the evening’s success was a raffle, where Rector’s wife Glynis Baker sold tickets worth £295.

After announcing the winners, the Rector, the Rev Canon Bob Baker, thanked churchwarden Eileen Kitson, church secretary John Kitson and Parochial Church Council members George and Christine Price for their efforts, the hosts for the venue and everyone for their support.

Charity benefits from garden opening.

National Gardens Scheme charities had a benefit of £400 after the gardens at Wretham Lodge were open for the afternoon and seen by 99 visitors.

Across the road, refreshments at St Ethelbert’s Church produced £180 for church funds.

Wretham visitors of a vintage kind.

The church at Wretham gets very accustomed to visitors during its year, often associated with people touring the National Gardens Scheme gardens laid out around Wretham Lodge, the former village rectory.

But a host of more unusual visitors arrived in June, in the shape of a collection of 44 vintage cars, of all sizes, colours, shapes and makes.  The oldest dated from 1910.

Their owners were shown around the gardens by Gordon Alexander and churchwarden Ian Salter before settling down to tea and home-made cakes in St Ethelbert’s church. 

Mr Alexander graciously gave their admission charges to the church, amounting to almost £600. We are very grateful - and it was a delight to host them. Thanks go also to George and Christine Price and Jean Gray and Philip Foster, who served teas all afternoon.

A message of thanks from Eileen Kitson.

“I would like to thank all those who have sent cards, flowers, cakes, soup and other gifts and who have visited me after my emergency operation. I have been deeply moved by all your kindnesses.

“I started a six session chemotherapy course at Bury St Edmunds towards the end of June. I am especially grateful to all those members of the St Ethelbert congregation who have stepped in to give extra help at this year’s summer activities at Wretham – which I still hope to attend!”