Eve Kingston

Eve Kingston

Eve attended Christ Church since the early 1930's

I first came to Rayleigh Congregational Church in the early 1930's. I had just met my husband to be, Norman, at the East Anglia Institute of Agriculture (now Writtle College). On the first day I felt very homesick and a chap walked up to me and asked me if I would like to play table tennis. It was Norman! The next day a friend on the course told me that Norman had said to her "This is the person I am going to marry"
So I inevitably started to come with him to Rayleigh at weekends and soon got involved with the Sunday School This involvement continued after our marriage in 1938 and I worked with the Sunday school for 32 years, first as a teacher and then as the leader of the Junior department. Miss Purkiss was at that time leader of the Primary department. The Junior department met in Caley Hall and there were at least six classes with about 40-50 children. Highlights of the year were outings to Maldon in days when travel and holidays were limited and also anniversaries when other churches would join us in the celebrations.
Early memories of the church are varied. One is of Messrs Martin, Hall and Kingston stoking the boiler about 6.00 a.m. on Sunday mornings and sweeping away the snow on the front steps during winter. The church at that time had a wooden floor with coconut matting in the aisles. There was no platform or choir seats at the front and wooden pews which stuck to your dress when varnished. The organist was in full view as there were no curtains and the organ was pumped by hand from behind. I remember Norman and Bart Tregenza doing this. Norman also played the organ at times and this was always a nerve racking occasion for me as he enjoyed jazz. I used to pray that he would not syncopate the hymns!
I also remember enjoying playing badminton in Caley Hall and the old gas lights where you had to pull a chain to light each lamp. But the thing that caused me most trepidation was after the introduction of electric light when Norman used to change the light bulbs in Caley Hall by putting up a ladder, climbing it, then jumping the ladder along the wall and beam from light to light while remaining at the top of the ladder. Whether he ever tried this in the church, I don't know. At least he never told me.
Early memories are of Sundays dominated by church. We had Sunday school in the afternoon so we sometimes went to church three times on a Sunday and remember there were no cars - we had to walk. Mr Greenhalgh in a talk to Juniors once recalled horses tied up outside Caley Hall. Church life revolved round the festivals and anniversaries and the annual garden party which was held at the farm and often included the acting of outdoor plays. I particularly remember 'The Princess and the Woodcutter' starring a certain Nancy Spinks. Her mother Mrs. Macquibban was always a very conspicuous member on her moped.
Overall, therefore, the memories are of happy times, events and occasions, people and ministers like Sydney Waterhouse who contributed to the fellowship, growth and witness of the church.