The Lambfold Benefice

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Welcome to the website of
The Lambfold Benefice

A group of five Anglican rural parishes

in the geographical centre of England




November 11th last year, of course, saw the centenary of the Armistice which concluded
The Great War and up and down the country events marked that important occasion.
This year actually marks the centenary of the first public act of Remembrance of that in
1919. Over the years public support for this ‘official’ time of Remembrance and reflection
has been part of the fabric of the life of the nation. Remembrance is an important part of
our common humanity, our life as a nation and thankfully it has continued to grow and
occupy an important part in the fabric of our society.
We can all have a good stab, even if we cannot always quote them verbatim, at
remembering Binyon’s famous words, ‘They shall not grow old as we that are left grow
old, age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and
in the morning we will remember them.’ Words which have continued to inspire lives,
music, drama, prose and poetry.
Spending a decade as a chaplain in a northern Public School where, like so many
others, the Chapel was the physical war memorial to those who fell in war in the cause
of peace, and not just in the Great War but in all conflicts, each day as I looked across
from my stall to the other side of the chancel I was greeted with the sight of a fine
stained glass window dedicated to an old boy of the school, William Noel Hodgson of
the Devonshire Regiment who fell, like so many others, at the beginning of the battle of
the Somme. As a consequence of idly leafing through the school archive one day, I
began to discover that Hodgson was also a poet, sadly one of the lesser-known war
poets. One eclipsed by the more famous War Poets, such as Brooke or Owen, that
many of us might have studied for O Level or A Level English.
Each year, as part of my personal act of Remembrance, I read again one of his poems
‘Before Action’ – the last poem he ever wrote – written June 29th 1916 on the eve of
what was originally planned to be the first Somme offensive, and I quote it in full at the
end of these ramblings. Each year, each day, every day even, it is important in some
small way to ‘Remember.’ To remember those who have given much to our lives either
through their example, their selfless actions or sacrifice; and this is not just important to
us collectively but also as individuals – to quote, or rather probably misquote, that great
historian Henry Chadwick who is reported to have said ‘There is nothing to be pitied
more than a people who have lost the need to remember’. So as Remembrance Sunday
fast approaches, poppies are worn and once again we think of the ultimate sacrifice of
others, let us as a nation, as a benefice and as individuals- ‘Remember’. Again, as last
year, we will as a ‘United Benefice’ hold our collective Remembrance Sunday Service at
Litchborough on 10th November at 10:45 a coming together to collectively offer our
thoughts, prayers, remembrances and above all thanks for all those who gave their lives
in whatever conflict and in whatever decade,-so that we can live in peace. I do hope that
you will join us.

Fr Tim

Before Action - Lt. William Noel Hodgson.

By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening’s benison,
By all that last sunset touch that lay
Upon Hills-when day was done;
By beauty lavishly outpoured.
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a soldier, Lord.
By all of man’s hopes and fears
And of all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years
And every sad and lovely thing:
By romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.
I that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes,
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice;
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
I must say good-by to all of this;-
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.

Written on the evening of June 29th 1916. Less than forty-eight hours later Hodgson
was ‘killed in action’ in the first hour of the Battle of the Somme – this was the last, and
perhaps most poignant poem that he penned.
All the teams playing in the Rugby World Cup, need to play as a team, not as fifteen
separate players, if they want to get the results the wish for. They need to listen to each
other, work together, put personal agendas aside, and support each other if they are to
get the job done as I am sure Eddie Jones will constantly remind the England Team. So
as we settle back and hopefully enjoy the imminent spectacle that is the ‘World Cup’
unfold over the coming month, let us also remind ourselves that, come what may, life in
all its forms is better when we have a unity of purpose, a unity of hearts and minds, and
a mutual respect for the value and contributions of each other.

Father Tim

Filling the Christ shaped hole in the heart of England

Contact Rev Tim Fernyhough, Rector of the Lambfold Benefice

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