Summer in the churchyard is now well underway. Some of the trees need cutting but unfortunately birds are nesting so nothing can be done yet. The recent rain has meant that the grasses and foliage are growing fast but so too are the early purple orchids – there seem to be more than ever this year. However, I overheard someone recently commenting on how ‘scruffy’ it was all looking. This churchyard is an important area for wildflowers and wildlife. Once all the wildflowers finish flowering and go to seed, they will be cut down and left for the seeds to return to the earth. Then all the grass will be raked up because wildflowers need to flower on a poor soil not one that has been mulched by the fallen grass. As ever when we rake, we will need help, please contact me if you feel so inclined.

We celebrated the important festival of Pentecost at the beginning of June. This service coincided with the Platinum Jubilee, so we celebrated that as well. In the nave you will currently find a beautiful and colourful Platinum Jubilee art display from St Mark’s school children. Every class has worked very hard producing different depictions of the Queen’s head – and as one of the adults viewing it said, ‘Very Andy Warhol!’

On a more sombre note, at the end of May, St Mark’s Church held the funeral service for Jan Blades, a lovely village lady who will be much missed. The church was packed with family, friends and villagers who all knew Jan and wanted to support her husband, John, her son, James, and the rest of the family. I stopped counting worshippers when I got to 130! The service was a sad but happy occasion as we all remembered her; the things that she’d done, how involved she’d been with the village and what she meant to people. Funeral services are sad occasions, but I find that it’s also a time when we reconnect with people we haven’t seen for ages. This occasion was like that, it was good to see people who had moved away but returned to pay their respects to the Blades family. The Welsh are famous for their funerals, and it felt a bit like that in Hadlow Down when most of the village turned out.

Sadly, it isn’t always like this on Sundays. We have a 9.00 am worship, usually a Parish Communion and once a month a Family Service in which the children play a more prominent part. It used to be that church attendance was a requirement for families sending their offspring to St Mark’s school. This is no longer the case, so we don’t see as many parents and children as we used to; mind you it was noticeable that once the youngsters grew up and left St Mark’s school the parents ‘grew up’ and left the church too. Sunday mornings with a dwindling congregation is a bit lonely but we soldier on. My grandfather used to say that Christians in Britain used to go to church on wheels, to their baptism in their pram, to their wedding in a Rolls Royce and to their funeral in a hearse. In Hadlow Down I would add that they go to see the donkey on Christmas Eve!

When I went to see my relations in Canada a few years ago I attended church with them and was astonished to find a congregation of two hundred for the first service of the day and was then told that the following two services would also have the same number. When did going to church in the UK fall out of fashion? I don’t think that regular worship in Hadlow Down will ever reach two hundred, but I’d be happy to be proved wrong. It would be just nice to see you occasionally.

Janet Tourell, Deputy Church Warden

Sunday Services at St Mark’s Church during July:

Sunday, 3rd July 9.00 am, All-Age Family Service Sunday, 10th July 9.00 am, Parish Communion

Sunday, 17th July 9.00 am, Parish Communion Sunday, 24th July 9.00 am, Parish Communion

Sunday, 31st July 10.00 am Combined Service at St Margaret’s Church, Buxted