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Friends of Becconsall Old Church

Becconsall Old Church of All Saints, Hesketh Bank, Lancashire
Becconsall Old Church of All Saints, Hesketh Bank, Lancashire


Perhaps partly due to numerous TV programmes, wildlife photography has become one of those activities that looks easy.

Birds and animals are all around us, if not these days in the numbers that they once were, and to capture that magic instant seems simply a matter of "point and shoot" at the right moment.

The result, of course, is most likely to be a blur the size of a pinhead in a close-up of foliage, or a wide expanse of grass without so much as a tail in sight. The right moment, in other words, can prove as elusive as the subject itself, and the craft demands considerable skill, endless patience and even, sometimes, remarkable courage.

All of which serves to introduce the next visitor to the Old Church. On Sunday 8th August, starting at 2.30pm, Philip Boardman will be showing some of his splendid photographs of local wildlife. Come along to be delighted and surprised at how much there is to see,

if only we knew where to look, and had the patience to stand and stare. Admission is £4, half-price for children, a price which includes refreshments and, if you need it, that ride on a vintage coach from the parking spot at All Saints Church Hall in the village.

Tarleton Brass band playing a concert at Becconsall Old Church

Next up, from 2.30pm on Sunday 6th June, is the chance to enjoy afternoon tea with Sylvia Greenwood and to take a look at her fascinating collection of village memorabilia, together with recently published Old Church records from the 1700's. The vintage coach will be leaving All Saints Church Hall car park at 2.30 and 3.30pm. The 'all-in' cost is £4.


Or so an old proverb goes, although if you're desperate it might be worth a try. On the other hand, if your spirits need a lift or you'd just welcome the chance to waggle a foot in time to the rhythm of a good tune, then Becconsall Old Church at 2.30 pm on Sunday 16th May is surely the place to be. Tarleton Brass will be stomping in with many a merry toot for their popular annual concert in the old building, raising the dust in the rafters to set us off on yet another season of events. Admission is £4, or £2 for children, and this includes refreshments. As usual, Mr Hunter's vintage coach with Jimmy at the wheel will be running between the All Saints Church Hall car park and the Old Church.

I'm afraid that for personal reasons this page has been neglected for too long. The Old Church's accustomed winter snooze was rudely interrupted by someone trying, but ultimately failing, to steal lead from the roof. The stolen material had been left in a ditch nearby, perhaps for later collection, but was found in time by someone working on the building. A lead-substitute has been used as replacement.

A fault was found in part of the relatively new electrical installation, which resulted in some lights suddenly coming on, which spooked a few folk late at night. Happily that's now been put right.

What is still to be put right is the increasingly serious damp problem affecting the southern wall and flooring. A Friend's committee member, surveyor Ed Clark, has been watching the problem develop for some time, and has now agreed a course of action with the Churches Conservation Trust, which he will supervise. The Friends have agreed to fund half the cost of the necessary work, which may be carried out in the next financial year, estimated to be at least £7,000. So we're in fund raising mode again ...

A good programme of events has been put together for the summer months. Full details are listed on the Events pages of this website and I'll aim to include further details here as I get them.

We'll be delighted to see YOU, whether you fancy just one event or come along for all of them.


The announcement this week that the Civic Trust has been placed in administration came as something of a shock.  A statement from Philip Kolvin QC, the Trust's Chairman, explained that the organisation's financial position had come under severe pressure, following the loss or failure to achieve government and local authority contracts and funding.  The Trustees decided that the Trust, after fifty-two years, no longer had the resources to continue operating.

The news will have no direct bearing on the Old Church and its future, although it seems likely to affect some aspects of the Civic Trust's annual joint venture with English Heritage, Heritage Open Days.  We have always enthusiastically participated in this event, undoubtedly benefitting from its national publicity, and we must now wait to see what will happen in the run-up to the September dates.

Whilst Mr Kolvin's statement makes it clear that every effort will be made to ensure that existing programmes are handed over to other organisations, there is no doubt that this is could be a serious blow to the quality of urban environments in this country.  Of course, there are many voluntary civic societies throughout the country, and the hope must be that some revitalised national body will be possible through their efforts and those of the organisation's many friends.  As Griff Rhys Jones, President of the Civic Trust said,, "My own commitment to the cause is not in the slightest diminished and I know that thousands of members of civic societies across Great Britain feel exactly as I do and will want to keep the flame burning in some way."

April 2009

Initially, we stood around chatting, enjoying the hazy sunshine of the early Spring evening and admiring the results of the tree surgeon's careful work. Present were seven members of the Committee: David Clusky, Elizabeth Caunce, Kath Wright, Dorothy Trippier, Olive Clarke, Trish Whitehead and John Nairne, and two supporters, Mrs J Ryan and Jim Newcomb. The remaining members of the Committee, Barbara Clusky and Edwin and Gill Clark were unable to join us. But if they believed that they might thus escape the coils of our monstrous bureaucracy then disappointment beckoned …

The appointed hour struck, or something approximate to it. David cleared his throat and the rest of us dutifully assembled in some semblance of disciplined good order: the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Becconsall Old Church was under way. These are not the minutes, so suffice it to say that during the next hour we noted a few apologies for absence; approved last year's minutes as correct – a remarkable feat of remembrance given the combined ages of the participants; gazed in wonder at Elizabeth's accounts and discussed how best to spend some money; re-elected each other, including the absent trio, although we failed to persuade Mrs Ryan or Mr Newcomb to join the Committee, whilst gratefully noting their willingness to help on occasion; finally we discussed the damp-damaged floor (Mr Newcomb had some constructive thoughts about that) and revisited the matter of chairs ... Just for the record, David, Elizabeth, Kath and Barbara remain Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Events Organiser respectively, the rest of us willing to pitch in when and how we may. And we must not forget John Dale, ever in the background, but responsible for all our printing work.

That was about it, really. We put away the chairs and ambled into the gloaming. As we exchanged a few final words, I saw my first pipistrelle of the year fluttering over the fields in the dusk.

We had agreed one extra date. On the afternoon of Thursday 23rd April we shall be giving the Old Church its annual pre-season spruce-up – polishing woodwork and so on. Possessors of elbow grease would be welcome to join us. Before that happens, at The Friend's expense, the windows will have been cleaned inside and out and the less easily accessible spider's webs removed. Don't worry about the spiders – they'll soon be back.

Updated March 2009

The Annual General Meeting of The Friends of Becconsall Old Church will take place in the Old Church at 7.30pm on Thursday 2nd April.  With past form as a guide, I do not suppose that this will be a prolonged or crowded meeting.  However, if you are reading this and wondering if you might be able to offer some support or assistance to our small team, why not come along to check us out.  There will almost certainly be tea or coffee, and no doubt home-baked cakes and biscuits, on offer, and there is always that future satisfaction of watching people arriving at the door of this fine old building to enjoy one of our events.  Full details of our plans for the year now appear on the Events page of this website.

Old lime tree overhanging Becconsall Old ChurchThe management of trees can sometimes prove a contentious issue.  We've certainly had some anxious discussions about the old limes which press close to the north and west sides of the Old Church.  That is particularly true of the apparent 'king' of the group, which overhangs the porch … many would say delightfully so in summer.  Most people would agree that the trees add immeasurably to the character of Becconsall Old Church and its surroundings.  And there is no doubt about the shelter they provide from the sou'westerly gales which frequently enough roar across the village.  Furthermore, lime trees are not particularly common in this area.  But there is also a point of view which worries about blocked gutters, undermined  foundations and potential damage from storm-broken boughs.

In fact, care of the churchyard is not strictly speaking our concern, although we and the Churches Conservation Trust clearly have an interest.  Nevertheless, we took some advice, notably from David Thornber, from West Lancashire District Council.  He provided a very useful model for  some careful pruning of the entire group.  With the support of the Parish Church Council, we have engaged a qualified contractor, and the Friends have agreed to pay for the work as a contribution to the welfare of the churchyard.  One, probably self-seeded, tree will be lost, but the others, including the major fellow by the porch, should benefit from some expert attention.  We are anxious now to see the work completed before the spring awakening is too advanced.

Updated February 2009

So there we stood in the Old Church, a little group of Friends, clustered round a heater, hands wrapped gratefully round steaming mugs of coffee, shifting from one foot to the other to keep the circulation going, watching the flutter of snowflakes across the graveyard ... and, my!, how the damp and cold were piercing the floor's stone flags. That, indeed, was one of the things we were keen to talk about, for we had gathered to meet Tim Charlson, Development Manager of The Churches Conservation Trust (TCCT), now our primary contact with the Old Church's owner. Tim, a heritage management specialist, is not new to TCCT, but none of us had met him previously and we were all struck by his energy and enthusiasm, and his understanding that, while baby and bathwater must splash about happily together, that does not automatically mean that all change and possible improvement must be resisted. That is particularly true if buildings like the Old Church are to continue to play a part in the life of the local community. Thus we talked about our events and what we have planned so far for 2009. We covered some problems – that failing Yorkstone floor, for example. And we ventured some possible improvements for exploration and consideration – how about a water supply for example, given that all water for refreshments now has to be carried into the building. As Tim left, we all felt that his two visits, for he had been determined to meet us all, had been encouraging and potentially fruitful.

What is more, Tim brought with him one cheerful suggestion. This year is the 40th anniversary of TCCT's formation. To mark the occasion, the Trust is asking all its churches that can do so to ring their bells at 2pm on Saturday 21st February. A queue of the Friends' various grandchildren immediately formed to undertake this weighty task at Becconsall Old Church, for our bell was restored to the belfry a few year's ago. The bell has occasionally been heard for funerals, so on hearing it some older villagers might wonder mournfully who has passed on. But then that rope dangling in the gallery proves all too tempting for certain visitors, so there might be some who say, “It's those blessed kids again!”. If you've read this, of course, you will know that the ringing of the bell celebrates the existence of an organisation which has done much to ensure the preservation and use of some of our most beautiful and historically valuable buildings.

Updated November 2008

The Old Church will be briskly roused from its winter slumber on Sunday 7th December. At 2.30pm those handbell ringing folk from Maghull Parish will begin a concert to welcome the Christmas season. The Friends will add extra flavour with mince pies and mulled wine, and we're also hoping to have a hamper of festive goodies as a raffle prize. At £3 for admission, which includes the refreshments, together with a free ride in a vintage coach from the All Saints Church Hall car park, there won't be a better bargain this side of the New Year sales, however hard M&S and BHS might try. We'll be delighted to welcome friends old and new to our final event of the 2008 season.

End of season does not mean end of Old Church events, of course. A recent meeting of the Friends agreed a tentative programme for 2009. The following list is by no means final – indeed, we're still open to suggestions, particularly if they come with offeres of help attached – but here's how it looks at the moment:

31st May (Whit Sunday): Old Church Open Day with special exhibition

28th June: Music and drama event by All Saints Primary School

12th July: Old Church Sunday

26th June: Old Church Open Day with exhibition and afternoon tea

30th August: Tarleton Brass concert

12/13th September: Heritage Open Days

6th December: Fisherman's Friend Christmas concert.

Updated July 2008

Well, the summer, or what passes for that season given the July weather thus far, has seemed a bit odd without the usual flurry of concerts and other events in the Old Church. For one thing, I don't have anything to write about, since I assume that no-one will be thrilled by light bulbs being changed or blown fuses being replaced... Of course, the building has been open for visitors from time to time and, to show we still care, an effort has been made to paint the damp south wall, which has been peeling quite badly.

By the time this note appears, the Hesketh Bank Silver Band and Canon Jim Burns should have led the faithful from All Saints in procession down Becconsall Lane for the Annual Service in the Old Church. There is quite a long history behind this event, even, oddly enough, pre-dating the building of the new church and involving a payment from the Duchy of Lancaster and the prayers for mariners which will be said during the service.

Then, on Sunday 27th July, from 2.30pm, the Friends are presenting an Art Exhibition by Local Artists. Admission is £3 - contributing to the maintenance and continuing restoration effort needed by the Old Church - a fee which includes both a Cream Tea (well, it IS summer), and a ride in a vintage coach from and to the All Saints Church Hall car park.

There is yet more to come. On Sunday 31st August, Tarleton Brass will be back with us for another rousing concert; while on 13th/14th September the Old Church will be open, and celebrating Hesketh Bank's horticulture, to mark Heritage Open Days, a national event organised by The Civic trust and English Heritage. We can expect visitors from far and wide for that event. You too, perhaps?

Updated May 2008

“But the tigers come at night. With their voices soft as thunder.”: even as Leyland Male Voice Choir sang that slightly puzzling lyric from “Les Miserables”, daytime thunder rumbled loudly overhead and a squadron of storms rolled round the estuary. Whatever point Gaia sought to make, the men of the choir, conducted by Dr John Wilson and driven from the keyboard by Robin Stopford, missed not a beat.

Dr John Wilson

We should have known, of course, that, despite the sunny skies and optimistic forecast, there would be rain or worse … It was Village Walking Day, after all. Despite that rival attraction, a gratifyingly sizeable audience had turned out to enjoy a typically varied programme of hymns (“We only warm up after some good amens,” Dr Wilson noted), show tunes, popular ballads, a couple of well-achieved solos and a seasoning of classics: a Puccini duet, some lovely Fauré and a rare
piece of early Vaughan Williams from Robin Stopford.

Leyland Male Voice Choir

So, another season of events begins at The Old Church. The next concert is not until 31st August, when Tarleton Brass will set the rafters ringing and feet tapping once again – so there’s plenty of time to note that in your diary. In the meantime, The Old Church will be open from 11am on Sunday 29th June, which is Gardens Open Day in the village.

This is quickly followed by Old Church Sunday at 10.30am on 13th July, when the All Saints congregation follow the Hesketh Bank Silver Band in splendid procession down Becconsall Lane for Morning Service. And then, on Sunday 27th July, from 2.30pm, there is an exhibition of work by local artists. There’s plenty happening, then, to keep the old building alive.

Updated April 2008

Amid scenes of wild enthusiasm, along paths strewn with rose petals, a small band of men and women recently made a joyous entrance to Becconsall Old Church for the Annual General Meeting of the Friends.

Chairman David ‘Mao’ Clusky proclaimed a successful year, despite the challenges faced by the group, with some well-supported events after a shaky start, and a great leap forward in facilities, including better chairs and enhancements to the electricity circuit.

Treasurer Elizabeth ‘Abacus’ Caunce noted a small deficit in the year’s income and expenditure, but the overall position was reasonably healthy. No ‘panic run’ on a vulnerable UK financial institution was likely to result, and funds should be available for further maintenance of the building, including renewing the limewash on the damp-damaged south wall.

Barbara ‘Phonist’ Clusky pointed out that the programme for the coming season was somewhat reduced, but perhaps more aggressive than might have been expected. This was partly a result of the splendid determination of Tarleton Brass forces to occupy the formidable ‘August’ position in the face of some opposition.

Carefully watched by independent election observers Kevin Day and Jim Newcomb, democracy then took place as the central committee members nominated, seconded and elected each other for a further year in office. A number of retiring members had apparently hoped to avoid the future struggle by being unable to attend the meeting, but the ploy failed. Noisy acclamation greeted the news that, with the genial support of the Great Leader, President Dorothy Trippier, David Clusky, Elizabeth Caunce, Kath Wright, Barbara Clusky, Trish Whitehead, Ed Clark, Gill Clark, Olive Clarke and John Nairne would be manning the barricades once again. Savage internecine manoeuvering might now be expected at the next meeting of this group to secure positions of influence, but no change is expected to result.

Following a review of progress with the new signage proposal, and a warning from The Churches Conservation Trust of the current revalence of lead-stripping theft, the exhausted participants fell upon tea and biscuits as night closed in.

Next up, at 2pm on Thursday 8th May is the annual Spring Clean of the Old Church. Buckets, brushes, dustpans, mops, cloths, polish, coffee, biscuits and friendly companionship are all laid on. All you need bring, if you fancy helping us out, is a bit of energy, some enthusiam for the task and no fear of spiders.

Updated March 2008

As I write, the sky is blue, the sun shines and the birds think spring has arrived. If it weren’t for the chill in the breeze and the patch of snow just visible on Winter Hill I might think so too. Nevertheless, it is time to turn our attention to the Old Church and our plans for the coming season.

The Annual General Meeting of the Friends will take place, in the Old Church, at 7.30pm on Thursday 3rd April. We’ll take a look at our financial position, what we achieved during the 2007 and what might come about during 2008; and we’ll doubtless be caught mumbling, shuffling our feet and trying to look invisible as a committee is elected. If you feel strong enough to face such a challenging occasion, we’d make you very welcome, and ply you with coffee and cake when the formal proceedings finish.

We mentioned at the end of last season that, without an influx of fresh help, we might have to limit our ambition in 2008. That has come to pass, although Barbara Clusky has been busy enough with calendar and telephone to give at least an impression of business as usual – and some of the regular performers were adamant about coming whether we liked it or not … (we did, of course – like it, I mean!). So, the 2008 season looks like this:

11th May 2008
Leyland Male Voice Choir
2.30pm A welcome return visit from a very well received group.
Tickets £3.00, includes refreshments.
Vintage bus running from All Saints church hall car park

29th June 2008
Gardens Open Day
The Old Church will be open from 11am to support this village event
Refreshments available

13th July 2008
Old Church Sunday (Annual Parish event)
10.30am Procession down Becconsall Lane from All Saints, with the
Silver Band, and Morning Service in the Old Church

27th July 2008
Art Exhibition
2.30pm Local artists display their skills
Free admission. Vintage bus from All Saints church hall car park
Refreshments available

31st August 2008
Tarleton Brass
2.30pm The annual concert of this terrific local band
Tickets £3.00, includes refreshments.
Vintage bus from All Saints church hall car park

13th/14th September 2008
National Heritage Weekend
The Old Church will be open from noon until 4.30pm both
days. Local produce, plants, home-made preserves, cakes, local cheese etc
Free admission

7th December 2008
A Seasonal Concert
2.30pm Maghull Hand-bell Ringers
Tickets £3.00. includes refreshments.
Vintage bus from All Saints church hall car park

Finally, The Churches Conservation Trust has found a bit of money for some signs to encourage visitors to the Old Church. We’ve been debating possible sites, and so far we are considering a replacement for the large sign which once stood over the rectory hedge at the corner of Becconsall Lane, and a fingerpost at the edge of the popular coastal footpath which runs through the boatyard. If you have any ideas, we’d be pleased to hear them: send me an e-mail or give me a ring – contact details are elsewhere on this page.


A near capacity audience filled the Old Church for the last event of 2007. The members of the Fishermen’s Friend Jazz Band played a typically enthusiastic set, starting with ‘Bill Bailey’, closing with ‘Down by the Riverside’, and taking in such old favourites as ‘Mack the Knife’, ‘Whistlin’ Rufus’ and ‘I Scream, You Scream’ on the way. Band leader Gerald Rimmer’s granddaughter, Charlotte Rimmer, added variety with well-received performances of a dialect monologue called ‘Bolton’s Yard’ and the carol ‘Bethlehem’. During the interval, since the numbers present and the inclement weather made the usual self-service arrangements impractical, Friends’ volunteers whirled among the audience with trays of mince pies and mulled wine. To add to the cheerful atmosphere of the afternoon, a basket of cheeses, donated by Grace and Peter Proctor of Greenfield Dairy, Chipping, was raffled for the benefit of our funds. Now the Old Church will settle down to the silence of its chilly Winter snooze.

Fisherman's Friend Jazz Band playing at Becconsall Old Church

Inevitably, the Friends have been thinking about a programme for next year, in the light of rather disappointing numbers at some events this year, and our own increasingly limited resources in the shape of active volunteers. Chairman David Clusky warned the audience on Sunday that we may not be able to stretch to monthly events throughout Spring and Summer, although we remain committed to seeing the building in use and thronged with people as often as we can manage. Some additional volunteers have recently come forward, so perhaps the situation will improve as the warmer weather returns.

On a brighter note, we have had an additional power point installed, making the use of electric heaters rather more practical. The Churches Conservation Trust has asked us not to use portable gas heaters, since the moisture created by this form of heating is potentially damaging to a building already plagued by major damp problems.

Finally, recent visitors to the Old Church and others strolling down Becconsall Lane may have noticed a mysterious excavation in the bank just opposite Ferry Cottage. This is in fact the remains of a well which may at one time have been the only source of fresh water for the Old Church and the scatter of older dwellings in the area. Ken Wareing, a descendent of the family who ran the ferry which, as the name of the cottage suggests, once crossed the river Douglas at this point, noticed the well on an 1815 map of the area, and decided to look for it. It’s good to see interest being taken in these important reminders of village history.

Becconsall Lane Well


The Fishermen’s Friend Jazz Band, that is. This undeniably jaunty group of brass players from Banks, driven along by a rhythmic banjo in traditional jazz fashion, will be setting heads nodding and feet tapping in the Old Church on Sunday 25th November.

Fishermen's Friend Jazz Band
The Fishermen’s Friend in full flight, resplendent in their yellow t-shirts,
brightening a rainy Sunday in the Old Church in 2006.

The band will stomp off at 2.30pm, with a programme which may well introduce some seasonal favourites given a ‘Dixieland Lancashire’ slant (yes, folks, in case you hadn’t noticed, the season of goodwill has come round again already!). Admission is £3.00, which includes refreshment, likely on this occasion to include mince pies – possibly your first this year, so don’t forget to wish. Bill Hunter’s vintage coach, with Jimmy at the wheel, will be running as usual from the All Saints Church Hall car park. No excuses - you've time to practise your finger-popping!

31st August 2007

…. BUT THE CIVIC TRUST’S HERITAGE WEEKEND is fast approaching, when ancient buildings all over the country, including many not normally accessible, are open to the public.

The Old Church is participating, and will be open from 12 noon until 4.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, 8th and 9th September. Hesketh Bank Heritage Harvest, mainly organised by Trish Whitehead with the support of local growers and producers, will feature local produce, plants, home-made preserves, cakes and local cheese, as well as our own notelets, calendars and so on. Why not pop in to have a look round and a chat with the stewards on duty, and perhaps pick up a bargain!

In the meantime, why not reflect on yet another splendid concert by Gillian Bould and Tarleton and District Brass which was recently held at Becconsall Old Church.

Tarleton Brass Band concert at Becconsall Old Church, Hesketh Bank
Tarleton Brass at Becconsall Old Church

22nd July 2007

Thus A E Houseman described the bells rung ‘round both the shires’ and heard by a Shropshire lad and his lass on Bredon Hill in summertime.

There were no ‘steeples far and near’ contributing to the equally delightful music in the Old Church on Sunday, but instead those well-known and highly-skilled Handbell Ringers from Maghull Parish. For their third visit to Becconsall, they played their usual varied programme, ranging across arrangements of pieces by Haydn and Dvorak, encompassing Japanese folk song and Scottish airs and syncopating Richard Rodgers and Scott Joplin before finishing in rousing fashion with Strauss’s Tritsch-Tratsch Polka. The audience was delighted, we were delighted to welcome a larger audience (but there is always room for more) … and, in one of those strokes of optimism which characterize local volunteer groups, we booked them to come again for a Christmas concert in 2008 – date to be decided. Ring-a-ding-ding!

Maghull Hand Bell Ringers

This was the first outing for our ‘new’ chairs, kindly donated to us by Formby Methodist Church, which is currently being refurbished. These boast padded seats in cheery red, blue or green, and the word is that they are more comfortable than those they have replaced – which we, in our turn, were able to donate to the International Aid Trust. Why not come along and try them out …… during the next formal opportunity to do so at 2.30pm on Sunday 26th August, when our good friends in Tarleton Brass will return to give us what is certain to be another lively concert. Tickets £3.00 as usual, including refreshments and the bonus coach ride to and from All Saints Church Hall car park.

4th July 2007

Sorry for the hiatus: something unavoidable intervened. I was also unable to attend the concert by Roundelays but I’m told that the performance was first-rate. The choir sang a rich variety of songs from all over the world, usually in the original language, often unaccompanied. If we can persuade them to come again, then we’d very much like to do so, perhaps for a Christmas concert. Unfortunately, audience numbers were very much down for this excellent event, to the extent that the choir refused to accept a fee. This was disappointing for them and frustrating for us – hence my fears about the choir’s willingness to give us another try, despite their enthusiasm for the venue itself. Perhaps the sunny afternoon persuaded people that a deck chair in the garden was just too tempting: understandable perhaps in this so far disappointing summer. Just make a note not to miss them next time.

Sunday the 15th July is Old Church Sunday, when the Hesketh Bank Silver Band leads down Becconsall Lane a procession of parishioners and members of clubs and organizations associated with All Saints to attend Morning Service in the Old Church. Let’s hope the weather improves for them, although for a while before the old building was restored, this annual event took place in an adjoining field, even more at the mercy of wind and rain beating up the estuary! But they’re a hardy lot, the older villagers. As one of them explained when I politely inquired about fieldworkers’ use of string to keep trousers hoisted, “It’s the string as keeps us warm!”.

The Friends’ next event is a welcome return by Maghull Hand Bell Ringers at 2.30pm on Sunday 22nd July. Group hand bell ringing is a considerable skill, and the Maghull Ringers have a fine reputation, which they demonstrated during their previous concert at the Old Church to be fully justified. If the thought of this unusual approach to melody, harmony and rhythm chimes with you, then we’ll be delighted to see you there. Tickets as usual are £3.00, a price which includes some refreshment and, of course, a free trip on a vintage coach from All Saints Church Hall car park. Please note that some early copies of the year’s programme showed the date for this event as 15th July, but we had to change the date to ensure that we got a full band of players: 22nd July is definitely the correct date.

28th May 2007

What can we expect to hear from Roundelay, the chamber choir appearing at the Old Church on Sunday10th June? Directed by Pamela Horswood, once a singer with the BBC, the group has been in xistence for more than 20 years, with a long list of appearances to its credit. A typical programme might range across classical, popular, folk and gospel music, often sung a capella, but sometimes accompanied by keyboard, guitar and woodwind. We can look forward, therefore, to a varied concert, put across with the skill which comes with experience, from a group of people who sing for the sheer pleasure of doing so.

Roundelay Chamber Choir

We shall be warming up the building, if summer hasn’t returned, for the usual 2.30pm start. The £3.00 entrance includes some refreshment during the interval. Please catch the smart vintage coach from the All Saints Church Hall car park, or enjoy a pleasant stroll down Becconsall Lane, since there is no parking at the Old Church or in the adjacent boatyard. We look forward to seeing you there.

Currently, the Friends’ committee is looking at the possibility of replacing the existing set of chairs in the Old Church with something more comfortable and even – perhaps! - padded at the crucial contact points. Since the present batch, whilst having served us well, seem to have been freighted in from a Victorian workhouse, and apparently from the puinishment block at that, we feel that such a change could do much to improve the comfort of those of attending events. But never fear, we would retain the existing pews for those who might prefer the real 18th century experience …

13th May 2007
John Townson wood carving

As always at the start of a new season, we muttered anxiously amongst ourselves as the starting time for the first event approached. “Will they come?” we wondered, “Is there anyone waiting at All Saints for the coach?” John Townson, the afternoon’s speaker, busied himself with his splendid display of wood-carving, happily chatting to the early arrivals enthusing over his work. “The coach is coming …” someone said, “ and I can see more heads than just Jimmy at the wheel!”

Soon there was a crowd at the door and the chatter of acquaintance resumed: not a large gathering, but comfortingly sufficient for the organisers and, we were hoping, for the speaker as well.

Carving of Noahs Ark and animals by John Townson

We need not have worried. John had many an entertaining tale to tell, spinning round his search for wood, any old wood, to spark his imagination. As he and his wife toured France by tandem, ‘found objects’ sprang to his hand to become, with only minimal whittling, a floating bird or a threatening snake, carefully stored in the cycle panniers. At home and abroad, other unwanted or redundant timber from a variety of sources became the basis of his carving, many examples of which could be seen on the display tables, perhaps each of them the source of an amusing anecdote or precious memory.

He told, for example, of an afternoon at a camp site somewhere in the Loire valley, where owner and campers could be seen walking about, bent
double, peering at the ground, as they tried to find out for him how many toes, front and back, were possessed by the lively lizards, one of which he had set out to carve.

This was all well received, with a deal of laughter and and good-natured joshing, until John quietly closed with a kind of philosophy: nothing need be wasted, and something good could be drawn from the most unlikely of materials or events.

Now we look forward to our next event, at 2.30pm on Sunday 10th June, when Roundelay, a mixed choir from Southport, will be making a first visit to the Old Church. They promise a varied programme, and I’ll post more details here as they become available. Why not make a note in your diary and come along to join us?

Ah – those lizards have five toes back and front, it seems – but it took much comic peering to establish this.

25th April 2007

The AGM of The Friends of Becconsall Old Church passed quietly enough during the evening of 25th April. We could look back on a successful season of events with increased attendance in 2006; there was sadness, too, as we remembered the loss of Richard Clarke; a healthy bank balance has allowed us to plan early discussions about making positive use of the money; we were also able to donate a useful sum to the Churches Conservation Trust; and an interesting programme had been arranged for the new season.

There were few changes: David Clusky remains Chairman while Barbara Clusky is still Events Organiser, both beavering away well beyond the limits which those titles might suggest. As Treasurer, Elizabeth Caunce continues to keep her watchful eye on our finances. Our remaining President, Dorothy Trippier continues to offer us good advice as a member of the committee, as do Trish Whitehead, Olive Clarke, Gill Clark and Edwin Clark, each in their own invaluable way. Kath Wright, an old friend but newcomer to the committee, takes over as Secretary, and John Nairne continues to look after publicity and to keep this web-page updated. Hidden behind the scenery, as a sort of deus ex machina with a smoking PC, John Dale provides much necessary support with batches of programmes, posters and other material. He is one of a number of people who provide essential help without taking on an ‘official’ role.

The season’s programme has now been finalised – a mix, as usual, of
newcomers and old friends. Incidentally, if anyone reading this has any suggestions for an event which would fit well into the old building, we would be glad to consider it. Just use the e-mail address on this page to contact us.

13th May A Load of Old Rubbish
2.30pm (T) John Townson describes and demonstrates creative and artistic uses for recycled wood.

10th June Roundelay
2.30pm (T) A mixed choir from Southport experiences the Old Church’s superb acoustic for the first time.

8th July Old Church Sunday
10.30am Morning Service – an annual parish event starting with a band-led procession to the Old Church.

15th July Maghull Hand Bell Ringers
2.30pm (T) A welcome return for a talented group.

26th August Tarleton Brass
2.30pm (T) A valued and lively annual concert, not to be missed.

8th & 9th National Heritage Weekend
September Hesketh Bank Heritage Harvest, open from 12 noon to 4.30pm both days with local produce, plants, home-made preserves, cakes, local cheese etc., and displays of village history.

25th Nov It’s Too Early to Call This Christmas!
2.30pm (T) The Fisherman’s Friend, an unusual jazz band from Banks, return to offer some seasonal cheer.

Admission to events marked (T) is £3 (children half price), this includes refreshments and free transport by vintage coach from the All Saints Church Hall car park in the village (there is no parking at the Old Church or in the adjacent boatyard).

Finally, our first committee meeting of the new season will take place on Thursday 10th May, starting at 2pm. I mention this because the intention is to follow this with our annual spring clean – for those of us who remain physically able to wield the necessary tools, anyway! If you’d like to help, give us an hour or so to exhaust the jaw-jaw and join us for coffee before we open the tins of polish and elbow grease!

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In addition to the many special events held at the church as listed here, Becconsall Old Church is now open each year from May to September.
Contact Details
David Clusky
White Gables, Fulwood Avenue, Tarleton PR4 6RP
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