Nancy Spinks

Nancy Spinks

Nancy has attended Christ Church since 1941

Sixty eight years ago my mother brought me to Rayleigh Congregational Church on Crown Hill.

The pews were large and dark (to me) enlivened only by a small white card inserted into a holder at the end of each row. These bore the names of those who habitually sat in that spot. At harvest the ends of each pew was festooned with sheaves of corn.

Services were conducted by the Rev. Sidney Waterhouse a very kindly old chap (probably younger than I am now!) I recall him singing:
          ”There's not a lady living in the land
          As compares to my dear old Dutch”

Though this was not sung in Church, we all assumed he had married a lady from Holland.

We kids went into Caley Hall for 'Sunday School' in the afternoons where Eve Kingston helped us try to piece together our sketchy notions of Christianity. With a war raging between Christian countries this was not easy - nor was her journey to Church from Great Wheatley Farm, pushing a pram with one baby and three toddles tagging along.

Great Wheatley Farm provided the Sunday School with a great resource for picnics, play and fun. As we grew older and stayed later Norman would pile as many as possible into his car to take us home -often needing to drive with his door open as general lighting in Rayleigh ( and during the war ) left a lot to be desired. No seat belts, and no fear, we were immortal, or very young, and there was less traffic.

The Church was warm in winter thanks to Norman Kingston, Alf Martin and Clifford Hall rising in the early hours of Sunday to light and stoke the boiler. In fact I believe these three men did most of the work in the Church between them and without their love and service Rayleigh Congregational Church might not have survived.

Gertie Purkiss who led the Primary Dept wrote to each young man and woman who served in the forces every week. One of these young men came to play a big part in the life of the Church - Alan Hiscock.

I recall the little girl who sometimes sang a solo in Church - Audrey Martin. Her good friend Jean Hillier (née Kerkin) didn't sing solos but could entertain us all with stories.

Anne Davis (née Trudgett), myself and six others went camping. We were the 'Junior Friendship'. Cooking was attempted over a fire and the chief success (possibly the only success) was Anne's plum-duff. Every scrap was eaten. We were very hungry. There were two tents, one for the boys and one for the girls. One night the boys' tent was savagely attacked by a couple of cows. We lived dangerously then, though as the boys had come back from the war they were less alarmed by the cows than us girls.

Now the remembrances are rolling this is time to stop writing. Not enough paper and ink … (to paraphrase the end of John's Gospel!)