A Celebration of St. Wulfstan

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Subjects: Radical Bristol, Slavery & Resistance
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In between the howling gales, we had a day of calm which coincided with a spur of the moment event; ‘A Celebration of St Wulfstan’, on his saints day, the 19th of January. After a brief rendition of his life was published in last months magazine, a number of people got together to try and celebrate the great man’s life, in the actual church in which he served, as a contribution to Abolition 200 year.

Several people had stated that we ought to do something, and contact was made through the Friends of St Mary’s to Mary Beresford (one of the Churchwardens) to see if such an event could be held at short notice, and thankfully it was. The next thing we needed was a star speaker, and to my great amazement, Derek Robinson – an accomplished author, journalist and broadcaster, kindly agreed to attend. We were then well on our way.

Mary worked out an order of service, and with this came the realization that we needed an expert on St Wulfstan and St Mary’s Church (as Derek was going to concentrate on the wider implications of the slave trade) step forward Rebecca Ireland of Hawkesbury Local History Society. Not only did she do a great job of recounting Wulfstan’s life, she could also show people surviving parts of the church that would have actually been familiar to him.

Reverend Elizabeth gave a great welcome and prayers (especially chosen for Abolition 200) and this was followed by some beautiful singing by Linda Sanderson, she did ‘Amazing Grace’ unaccompanied and then ‘Steal Away’ with Pauline Setterfield on piano; note perfect and very moving.

Before Rebecca’s talk, we had a real treat when students of Briarswood sixth form college – under the auspices of PROPS, a special needs charity – who did a fantastic rendition of ‘War of the Worlds’ with the aid of some Hawkesbury Primary School pupils, on their state of the art sound equipment.

Derek’s talk then followed, and very interesting it was too. As he had stated, the topic of slavery is multi-faceted, but to present such a broad brush in depth performance in just twenty minutes was no mean feat. It’s no wonder that many of Derek’s books are best sellers, and if you want to find out more about Bristol’s ‘alternative’ history, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending his ‘A Darker History of Bristol’.

Briarswood sixth form college then came back to do a fun version of ‘Love is All Around Me’, with everyone joining in, and then Reverend Elizabeth rounded the service off with a ‘Collect for St Wulfstan’ followed by a blessing.

We had great support from Greg Roberts who did a magnificent poster to promote the event, and with plugs on Radio Bristol (care of Trevor Fry) in Venue Magazine (care of Eugene Byrne) and Bristol Times (care of Gerry Brooke) we couldn’t ask for better help. With over one hundred people in attendance, the publicity must of worked.

Wickwar Brewery came up trumps yet again, producing a ‘St Wulfstan Beer’ in a strictly limited number (200) and they never cease to help our village. The beer itself, based on bottle conditioned Old Arnold, was superb.

Finally the catering, led by Hawkesbury and Horton W.I. with sandwiches and cakes (Gill and the gang done good), and assisted by Louise, Linda, Mary and Hillary, the vegetarian fare was top notch, and generated quite a few pounds.

In all, nearly three hundred pounds was raised, and with this we hope to get at least a plaque to St Wulfstan in the church, and, if the idea takes off, possibly a stained glass window to rival the one in Worcester Cathedral, who knows.

As you may imagine, it would be wrong to single anyone out for special praise, but the pupils from Hawkesbury Primary School were a credit to the village, and every student from Briarswood school was a star. Many, many thanks to everybody who helped.

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