2017 Annual Report

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The Parish of St. Peter, Staple Fitzpaine

Annual Report and Financial Statements

Year ended 31 December 2017

St Peter’s Church

Staple Fitzpaine

We seek to be God’s people

living and telling the story of Jesus

St Peter’s is one of seven churches belonging to the Seven Sowers Benefice


The Rev. Paul Reynolds

The Rectory

Stoke St Mary




The Annual Report of St. Peter’s church presents the opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved over the last twelve months and to thank people who have been involved in the life and work of the church.  The financial statements included in the report give details of the church receipts and expenditure for 2017.  During 2017 Receipts exceeded Payments by £7,203 of which £2,503 relates to the 2018 Flower and Music Festival.


The parish forms part of the Seven Sowers Benefice comprising Beercrocombe, with Curry Mallet, Hatch Beauchamp, Orchard Portman, Staple Fitzpaine, Stoke St. Mary (with Thurlbear) and West Hatch.  The parish is part of the Ilminster Deanery, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, within the Church of England.  The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is a charity exempted from registration with the Charity Commissioners.  The Benefice is part of a Local Ministry Group (LMG) with the adjoining Blackdown Benefice.


Rector                                                         Revd Paul Reynolds

Associate minister (house for duty)            Vacancy

Associate minister                                      Revd Christabel Ager

One Reader with PTO*                               Brian Crudge

Reader emeritus                                         Clive Hayward

Children’s, schools and families worker     Holly Stevens

Reader in training                                      Sue McKen

Ordinand                                                    Phil Albrow

* Permission to officiate

In the light of the Diocesan strategy and our own Plan, the ministry team together with the church wardens have established the following priorities:

  • To encourage authentic Christianity in our members’ lives

  • To encourage small groups within church

  • To develop work amongst children

  • To develop work amongst 13-40s

  • To develop leaders within the church/every member ministry

  • To utilise ministerial gifts to the full

  • To ensure the needs of older people are adequately addressed.

Through our teaching, worship and activities, the ministry team seeks to put mission and evangelism at the heart of everything.  Over the last few years they have introduced Messy Church into Hatch Beauchamp and Curry Mallet as a way of reaching those families who will not be touched by our other activities.  Twice a year a benefice wide all age worship event is held at St Peter’s.  Devised and planned by one of the lay leaders, the service draws in a number of families who otherwise have very little contact with the church.  The team aims to run a yearly Alpha course for those interested in exploring further the relevance of Christian faith for today.  A thriving Mums and Tots group at Stoke St Mary, led by the associate minister, has helped to develop some excellent relationships with parents who attend, leading to some joining in with Messy Church or having their children baptised.

The Ministry Team is committed to providing forms of worship and events that engage those who currently have little contact with the church.  This vision is gradually being embraced by the PCCs and wider congregations.


Ministry Team Changes

In September Holly Stevens was appointed as the Children’s Schools and Families worker.  Holly has already made a great start and is involved in Open the Book, now at Thurlbear and Curry Mallet schools, Sunday Gang at West Hatch, Hatch Beauchamp Kids, Stoke Tots and Messy Church at both Hatch Beauchamp and Curry Mallet village halls.

At the end of October we said goodbye to Revd Mary Godin who had been the House for Duty Associate Priest for six years.  Mary wrote in the November magazine ‘May you know God’s strength as you discover his path for your future’ and we are sure that God’s strength is guiding her in her well-earned retirement and we look forward to seeing Mary in and around the villages.

Change is always tinged with sadness and a feeling of loss; but often it is followed by the sense of moving forward and hope.


The method of appointment of PCC members is set out in the Church Representation rules.  Members are elected at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.  All Church attendees are encouraged to register on the Electoral Roll.  The PCC met on four occasions during 2017.

PCC members who served in 2017 were:

Chairman                                        Revd Paul Reynolds

Churchwardens:                             Alison Brown

                                                       Mal Lee

Elected Members:   

Secretary                                      Sheila Green

                                                     Chris Dunn

                                                     Tami Boden Ellis

                                                     Julie Pope

Ex Officio                                      Revd Christabel Ager

Treasurer                                      Mary Bell (not a member of the PCC)


Members of the PCC bring a wealth of different knowledge and experience and it is often the challenge from committee members that makes for clearer and more objective decision making.  PCC members also support the ministry team across the benefice.


In 2017 twenty five people were registered on the church electoral roll.

On average fifteen people attend church on the first Sunday of the month.


The current service rota is as follows:

1st Sunday 10.00 am          Parish Communion

3rd Wednesday 6.30pm      Reflective worship


In addition there were two Worship for All Benefice services; one on the third Sunday in March and one on the third Sunday in October.  The attendance at major services over the last nine years is as follows:














Good Friday










Easter Sunday











Harvest Festival











Remembrance Sunday











Carol Service











Christmas Day












** Baptism service

In 2017 there were three baptisms, no marriage services and no funeral services.

The Carol Service at St Peter’s Staple Fitzpaine

This year the season of Advent started on Sunday 3 December and finished on Sunday 24 December.  It is a very dark time of year as the nights are at their longest and for Christians it is a time of reflection and growing anticipation as we wait for the light of Jesus to end the darkness. 

The carol service took place on 20 December and the church was beautifully decorated with greenery, and candles.  The bells rang out to welcome people to church; candles in jam jars lit the paths; and amongst the 106 strong congregation there was a buzz of anticipation to hear the story of how the birth of Jesus came to pass.  The service was led by Revd Christabel Ager who opened the service by welcoming all and reading ‘Breathing in Advent’.  The congregation remained standing as soloist, Lottie Michaels, sang the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ very movingly – then the lights went up and the congregation all joined in.  The story of the birth of Jesus from the traditional bible readings was extremely well told by Alison Brown, Di Grabham, Anthony Brown, Kath Michaels, Mark Pope and John Lee. 

Led by conductor and organist Julie Pope, St Peter’s singers delighted the congregation by singing the nativity Carol by John Rutter and Bethlehem from the musical ‘Martin Guerre’.

The Neroche Handbell Ringers enhanced the feeling of anticipation and waiting ringing out the handbells’ crystal notes.

After the service there was a retiring collection for Youth Work within the Benefice and everyone was invited to enjoy seasonal refreshments.  It was a joyful and happy evening. 

Carol Singing around the Neroche Villages

This year twenty singers accompanied by Julie Pope on the accordion visited Lady Acre, The Alms Houses and The Manor in Staple Fitzpaine, Pooles Farm and Curland Close in Curland, Barton Oaks in Bickenhall and last but not least The Greyhound Staple Fitzpaine.  Seasonal refreshments were served at all the stops and a great deal of fun was had by both carol singers and hosts.

The village carol singers have always heralded Christmas and this festive fun is almost unique in rural areas.  Thank you, carol singers for giving us your gifts of time and music; thank you hosts for all the refreshments; and £288 was raised for the Women’s Refuge.


There are a great many people who support St Peter’s church in a variety of different ways.  The people who undertake duties in church, clean the church, those who maintain the churchyard, the clock winder, people who serve refreshments after services and celebrations and people who maintain the building.

Looking after a grade 1 listed building is a huge responsibility and whilst every effort is made to make sure the building and churchyard are safe to be used by members of the public, more help from members of the community would be greatly appreciated.  Your comments are always welcomed but your help would be wonderful and would make a great deal of difference.


The sidespeople are a dedicated group who perform their duties of greeting members of the congregation, reading and taking collection with quiet dignity.  The churchwardens appreciate the support the sidespeople provide; in particular thanks are given to Mary Bell, Di Grabham, Henry Heath, John Lee, Mark Pope and Magnus Stewart.


The Flower Guild is currently comprised of five volunteers.  Ably led by Di Grabham the volunteers work on a rota basis to provide beautiful floral arrangements every month.  The work for the Flower Guild includes lifting, carrying, daily watering and a lot of tidying up, it is a work of love and others who are interested are very welcome to come and join in.  St Peter’s is recognised locally for the quality of the floral tributes that are prepared for the Festival Services of Easter, Harvest and Christmas.  Greenery and fruit and vegetable contributions for these services are provided from members of the local community who will often help with decorating the windows.  The guild also provides a flower arranging service for weddings. 

It is always a delight to see the beauty of St Peter’s Church enhanced with the wonders of God’s world.  Many thanks to the Flower Guild for their dedication, hard work and artistry.


St Peter’s Choir continues to go from strength to strength.  We still enjoy singing as a group, despite the cold weather in the winter, and hope that we provide pleasure for people at our church festivals.  We always welcome people who enjoy singing; whether they have any previous experience, read music or neither of these.  All are welcome to come and give it a try.

Julie Pope


St Peter’s Belfry is at present in a healthy state. There are 11 ringers available, in various stages of expertise, but all are experienced enough to ring safely.

It is hoped over the next year to begin learning method ringing as opposed to Call changes which are generally rung at present.

The bell installation is in good order and regular checks are made on the tightness of the nuts and bolts and the general condition of the frame and bells.

Three new ropes were bought in July from Ellis Ropes for the bell numbers 4, 5 and 6 and next year new ones will be bought for 1,2 and 3 although these ropes are at present in fairly good order.  The clock is functioning well and merely requires keeping clean with judicious lubrication of the cables and escapement.

Staple Ringers help out at other towers such as West Hatch, Stoke St Mary and Hatch Beauchamp as required and there is return help from these towers which is gratefully received.  Finally, I would like to express my appreciation for all the hard work and reliable attendance from the ringers in what can be a difficult, occasionally frustrating (and sometimes very cold) pastime.

Paul Hart

Tower captain


In March 2018 Neroche Lunches will have been running for 7 years, providing a social occasion for those in our community, who may be at home on their own, and giving them this opportunity to meet others. Year by year, the numbers have increased and at present regular guests together with helpers number around 40-45. The Christmas lunch is particularly well attended and the Hall is decorated by a small group. Friends have been made and although some of our friends have sadly passed on, there is a lovely community atmosphere accompanied by delicious food. The helpers get much enjoyment in producing a successful meal. A few new volunteers would be welcomed by the team and much benefit can come from the camaraderie engendered by working together.

Thanks should go to all of those Friends of St. Peter’s who are involved in this worthwhile project, particularly those who are nominated as co-ordinator for each lunch & ensure smooth running of the meal & efficient service of hot food. Thanks to God for the food and the company are given before or occasionally after the lunch.

Generally a small profit is made by the lunches. This has been given to worthwhile causes, including the Village Hall and the Church during the year. A collection is made at each lunch for Open Door, one of the charities for the Homeless in Taunton. This year a total of £576 was donated prior to Christmas.

Alison Brown


To date with the help of grants and fundraising a total of £54,776 has been spent to complete the following work:

  • Bringing a water supply from the main road to the church.  This involved the architect, an archaeologist, TDBC and the contractors

  • Removing the pews at the back of the church and laying down flagstones.  This involved the architect and an archaeologist.  Contractors included electricians, plumbers and stone masons

  • Installation of servery with water boiler, induction hob and bespoke oak units.  This involved the architect and contractors included electricians, plumbers and a carpenter

  • Removing pews in the north east aisle and laying down flagstones.  This was necessary for two reasons: first the theft of lead caused a great deal of water damage to the pews in the north aisle especially those in the east corner; secondly the removal of pews allowed space accommodating the frontal storage box and Clavinova

  • Removal of pews at the front of the church has provided more flexible space for the choir, All Age Worship and concert events

  • New comfortable stacking chairs have been purchased.

After considerable correspondence with the Diocesan Advisory Committee a faculty has been granted for the removal of the organ.  Unfortunately the original organ company does not have sufficient capacity to remove the organ due to staff changes.  Mr Christopher Gaughan who is an organ builder has now promised to remove the organ (July 2017) and the faculty has been re-issued in his name.  Mr Gaughan has subsequently written to say he is no longer able to undertake this project.


Details of the Receipts and Payments are shown in the financial statements at the end of the Annual Report.

At 31 December 2017 PCC Funds Totalled £20,377


Payments totalled £22,933

The largest expenditure was £9,417 for the Parish Share.  The next largest, £3,140, was for reordering costs; pew removal, replacement flagstones and new chairs.  During 2017 the PCC donated £870 to charitable giving.  The PCC continues to repay the DBF loan, taken out in 2014 for church roof repairs.  £1,000 capital is repaid annually plus £64 annual interest.


Receipts totalled £30,136

Receipts in 2017 were almost double the amount received in 2016.  Fund raising proceeds showed an increase of almost 5 fold on 2016, totalling £10,563, contributed to by The Manor Fete proceeds.  Proceeds from the Manor Fete are used to pay for the general church expenses over the next three years.  Fundraising of £2,503 was raised specifically to fund the 2018 Flower and Music Festival.  HMRC Gift Aid income tax reclaim received in 2017 contained recovered tax from 2 financial years (no income tax was reclaimed in 2016). 

Parishioner donations also contributed to an increase in funds.

During 2017 Receipts exceeded Payments by £7,203                                           


Extracts from the Church Visitors’ Book

For which many thanks go to

Lovely visit – thank you


Golden wedding visit

Primroses were magical in churchyard

Nice church

For War Memorial Trust

Beautiful church

All the people on the cleaning rota who turn out in all weathers to keep the church clean and polished.


All the people who maintain the church and churchyard

Wonderful church

Lovely service, thank you

A beautiful christening service for Ebony White

Ref Loop and Sound System

Members of the PCC

A descendant of the Mountstephens from Staple Fitzpaine

Lovely to visit the church where we married in 1994

We shall always have memories of worshipping here


All the people who open and close the church every day of the year.

Beautifully peaceful

Incredible tour with the builder (? Mike Grabham)

Never experienced such wonderful acoustics before


Beautiful peaceful. Nice to sit and remember all this gone before us.

Nice and peaceful, nice and quiet

Thank you to the bellringers for their peal on the 100th anniversary of the death of Charles William Back



Everyone who gives their time to make the church welcoming.


Everyone who gives their time to decorate the church with flowers.


Everyone who gives their time to make sure the church is well loved.


Everyone who gives their time to talk to others about the work of the church in our community.


Pancake Supper 2017

Great fun was had by all at the annual Pancake Supper held on Shrove Tuesday.  There was fantastic food, pancake tossing, prizes and the Handbell Ringers delighted us all with a medley of tunes.  Most of all there was lots of fun, laughter and conversation.  Many thanks go to all who contributed and all those who came and supported.

Bickenhall, Curland and Staple Fitzpaine Scarecrow Festival 2017

Film and TV characters

There is a great deal of work involved in organising community events, and for the Scarecrow Festival it is always a nerve racking time wondering if there will be enough entries.  This year we had 16 entries and it has been one of the best ever for their quality and the imagination and skill of the designers.  I would like to thank everyone who entered into the spirit of Scarecrow mayhem including designers, cooks and everyone who helped to give such a lot of fun and delight to a great many people.

Thanks also go to our sponsors AES Building Services, Bickenhall Farm Livery and The Greyhound Inn whose support is gratefully appreciated. 

The Festival included teas in church and teas en route.  The scarecrows make people smile and everyone has really enjoyed looking at them.  All sorts of different people get involved – family traditions seem to have been established even though the children are now teenagers: they like to get their maps and meander round the villages looking at the creations and wondering what sorts of people come up with ideas like these!

The Festival ended with a BBQ at St Peter’s church and at last the results were announced.

First                Mary Poppins                                                           Archie and Poppy Young

Second          Terminator                                                                 John Cooney

Third               Rhett Butler has GONE WITH THE WIND              Jacky Kolkowski

Neroche Harvest Lunch

On Thursday 1 October over sixty people enjoyed a harvest lunch at Neroche Hall. 

Everyone enjoyed pre-lunch canapes, followed by a main course with puddings and cheese board.  Thanks are given to all those involved in fundraising events.


Kath Michaels led a successful,  exciting and varied fundraising programme including quizzes, hand-made Christmas crackers, preserves, notelets to name but a few elements.  Many congratulations to Kath and her team.  The funds raised of £2,503 are shown in the 2017 accounts but are ring-fenced for 2018.