A Personal View of a Church Recorder

On the last Sunday in January 2018, at the Glanvilles Wootton ‘Coffee & Chat Morning’ in the village hall, the Church Recorders presented to the Church and village a beautiful book. 

It was so pleasing to see so many people there to find out and appreciate exactly what a ‘Church Recorder’ did and that it was not connected to musical instruments.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to this group of volunteers after I attended an Arts Society (formerly known as NADFAS) meeting and was asked if I would like to join the ‘Church Recorders’ group.  Apprehensive at first, but when I found out that it was my church of St Mary the Virgin just up the lane from my house, I went along and became fascinated by the work that they do from April to November. 

All churches are too cold in the winter months! The Church Recorders have been in action for over 40 years and are attempting to record every church and chapel in the U.K. – a long way to go yet.  A copy of each record is sent to the V&A, the National Archives, the local History Centre and the records of churches kept in Swindon – so it is not simply parochial.

Everything inside the Church, including inside cupboards, was described in detail, measured and written down. The work is divided under several sections, memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, paintings, library, windows and finally miscellaneous which involves even the notice boards.

We worked in pairs with pencil and paper and you help each other to describe and measure in detail what you have before you.  It is then typed up and compiled.  The friendship between the group is evident and everyone helped everybody else.  We even have a mascot, a lovely little dog called ‘Banjo’ who joined us in the porch for our eleven o’clock coffee break. 

I found working in centimetres hard as I am in ‘inches’ person and some of the language for the different artefacts is unusual but with the help of other people and several books it is soon learnt.

It is a fascinating hobby and it is amazing what I learnt from my year with them, from embroidery stitches, Latin from the memorials, different kinds of wood, to stained glass windows and so much about the village history.  All the information gathered will enable people to investigate their ancestry or use the resource for research work.  It will enable people in future years to know how the Church looked and functioned.

St Mary The Virgin Glanvilles Wootton church record presentation

The bound book has approximately 200 pages of description with line drawings and 90 pages of beautiful colour photographs.  It will be kept safely in the Church cupboard but can be seen on request and there will be a loose leaf version on display in the church.

A wonderful hobby ………onto the next church!

Patricia Harris