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On The Home Front
The People and Parish of North Mymms 1939-45

Published by the North Mymms Local History Society

Chapter Nine - Church and People

Chapter Ten - Epilogue

Aerial view of St. Mary's Church North Mymms c.1930.
Aerial view of St. Mary's Church North Mymms c.1930.

The parishioners were informed of events by the parish magazine. The Rev. Leonard Buxton was vicar from 1930 to October 1944 and the Rev. Lionel Hamel-Smith was inducted in April 1945.

Mr Harry Nash, sexton resigned in April 1945 having been in the post for 33 years. The Churchwardens in 1940 were Messrs. C. Berger and J. Shadbolt.

It was considered important that the Young People's Fellowship should continue during the war. They met on Fridays from 7.30 to 9.30 in the Scout Hut. Potential members had to have their names proposed and seconded by members and passed by the committee and admitted at a service before they could attend meetings. Services were held at Bell Bar and Roestock Mission Room and an increase was noted of young people attending.

The Sunday Schools flourished. Numbers of pupils attending were 100 at Roestock, Infants 60, Brookmans Park (at Moffats begun by Mr and Mrs Hoy) 30, Bell Bar 36 and Waterend 30.

At the children’s service in the Boy’s School the attendance was 50.

Sunday School parties were much enjoyed. One year a fancy dress parade was judged by Miss Edwards. Games were arranged by Miss Robertson and followed by a Christmas play, 'Long ago in Bethlehem', produced by Miss Lorna Messenger. Tea followed for parents and children provided by Mr Nessling.

At the 1941 party the Vicar introduced his daughter Ruth Buxton, mentioning the ' little boys and girls of Africa to whom she would be returning shortly and they promised to remember both herself and the little black children in their prayer.'

The daughter church at Little Heath, Christ Church celebrated its fiftieth birthday in 1943.

Captain and Mrs McKinney of the Church Army came to work in the parish in 1940 succeeding Captain Miles. He ran the Roestock Sunday School with his wife and Mrs Wren. In 1945, it was reported that more evacuee children had arrived in the Roestock district and had been made welcome.

When he left the parish he received a cheque for £23 and an illuminated scroll and book token from the Sunday School children of Welham Green.

The Parochial charities continued. The Vicar in 1940 asked for the names of labourers who wished to apply for the gifts to be distributed soon after Easter. Each case was considered on its merits. The money usually given to each widow was distributed at the vicarage,

Mr Bradbeer received the subscriptions to the Coal Club. There was no fund for providing a bonus which had been provided by the church funds, but subscriptions were invited to raise the £6 needed.

The church bells were the source of some interesting correspondence in 1940. The answers were needed to the following questions:-

  1. On what occasion are the bells to be rung?
  2. What are the public to do on hearing them?
  3. Who has official authority to ring them?
What we ask for is official instructions. It is no small matter to silence their witness to our Christian faith throughout the land. A young officer is reported to have said he is sure we cannot win the war until the bells ring again. We put religion first as our aim in trying to win the war and we should like to do all we can to support our religion.

The next month in January 1941 it was reported that letters had been received from a member of the Home Guard, a bell-ringer and a civil servant in reply.

The answer to questions were:-

  1. The bells were only to be rung in the event of parachutists landing.
  2. No authoritative answer was given to the question.
  3. The ringing was to be authorised by the Commander of the Home Guard.
On the 21st of February 1945, a Quarter Peel of Bob Major was rung involving 1,264 changes in 48 minutes in honour of the Rev. Hamel-Smith's induction.

The conductor was W.Nash and his team P.Nash, T.Lock, D.C.Price, G.Spencer, A.Laurence, C.Nash and H.

The Rev. Buxton wrote a long letter to his parishioners in the parish magazine of October 1944. He stated that the fourteen years spent in the parish had been happy ones for both himself and his family.

He felt however, that the responsibility of so large a parish seemed to grow heavier and he felt no long able to fulfil it. He thanked the keen Church Council and loyal churchwardens and church workers who had helped him.

He said, "there is scarcely a house the parish that Mrs Buxton or I can enter without being assured of a warm welcome."

He regretted that he had not been able to see the completion of the plan for enlarging or rebuilding the Boy's School in "order that the school might retain its character as a church school." The war had prevented that but under the new Education Act the Government had promised half the cost.

At the same time the letter was written, the Rev.Buxton did not know the name of his successor. Owing to the Tithe Act of 1936 the stipend would be £36 less. He believed that there was a prospect that some of the church members would subscribe to the support of their new Vicar and the subscriptions would be equalled by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

He wrote, "it is time that the dear old Church of England woke up to the fact that she cannot obtain a sufficient number of clergy of the best type unless she provided first have been too long content to live on the benefactions of our forefathers, and these are no longer sufficient. I have written this, not because I have desired any more for myself, far from it, but because I think it is good for you to know the facts and it is easier for me to say it than for those who come after. I need hardly say that you will always be in our thoughts and in our prayers. God Bless You."

On The Home Front - The People and Parish of North Mymms 1935-45
Index - On The Home Front
Chapter One - A Message From The Vicar
Chapter Two - The Special Constabulary
Chapter Three - The War Comes Home - Parish Bomb Damage
Chapter Four - The Auxiliary Fire Service
Chapter Five - Children in the Parish
Chapter Six - Keeping Busy on the Home Front
Chapter Seven - The North Mymms Auxiliary Hospital
Chapter Eight - The Secret Visitors
Chapter Nine - Church and People
Chapter Ten - Epilogue
Chapter Eleven - People
North Mymms Parish Magazine
Crockford's Clerical Directory 1939
Who's Who 1988
North Mymms Auxiliary Hospital 1940-46: A brief description by H.M.Alderman
Who Was Who (various years)
Note: Many thanks are due to Dick Colville and Leslie Abbott for allowing their reminiscences of the war years in the parish to be published. Also to Mr Colville for allowing the essay by his wife Dorothy to be reproduced. The North Mymms Local History Society

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