St Mary Magdalene Church
Parish of Hatfield Hyde, Welwyn Garden City
St Mary Magdalene Church
Parish of Hatfield Hyde, Welwyn Garden City
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History of St Mary Magdalene Church

This history is an expanded version of the one written in 1983 for the centenary of St Mary Magdalene Church. To it has been added a final section detailing developments since 1983, and also a number of pictures in colour and black & white. These pictures as well as the text, aim to underline that the church is not so much a building, as a community of people united in Jesus Christ.
Most therefore, of the work towards this history, was done by the original team in 1983, to whom we owe much thanks. Also many thanks are due to our current archivist, Joan Lammiman.

Fr David Munchin (Vicar 2002-2010)
August 2002

1848 (Approx.)

A service was held in Woodhall Lodge Farmhouse kitchen, which was situated where Moss Green now is. The service was later held in another farmhouse kitchen, (this is thought to be the kitchen of Hyde House, which was originally a farmhouse) usually at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and led by a layman and then, by a curate from the Parish Church in Hatfield.

The Hyde was part of the Parish of St. Etheldreda, Hatfield. The services continued until 1861, when Lord Salisbury had built what was commonly known as the Mud Chapel. This was situated in Homestead Lane on the edge of where the playing fields are now.

The “Mud Hut” Church"

Evensong was held at 3 p.m. on Sundays. A Mr. Farr loaned a harmonium, which his daughter played. The only piece of furniture in the building, apart from the forms for the congregation, was a small desk, serving as a prayer desk and a pulpit.

Some years later the east end of the Chapel was provided, with an altar table and altar rails, and Holy Communion was administered on one Sunday in the month at 9 a.m.

Neither preachers’ book nor list of services existed apparently until 1874; the first entry being for August 9th of that year, a Mr. Howes was the preacher.
It was towards the end of this same year that the font (later moved to the new Chapel) was first installed, the first baptism being on January 3rd 1875. It was in this same year of 1875 that the school was founded. It was held in the Chapel, the east end being curtained off during the week.

It was the founding of a service for Hatfield Hyde by the zeal of a layman, leading as it did to the building of a Chapel and, henceforth, to the building of the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene.
The third Lord Salisbury for the use of his tenants and workers built the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene in 1882. It was dedicated on July 22nd 1883. The architect was Eustace Balfour, brother to the then Prime Minister and nephew of Lord Salisbury.

During the early years much development took place both materially and characteristically. It was called the Hyde Chapel until its consecration in 1928, and stamped with the ecclesiastical seal and became a Parish Church.

The Kendall family were great benefactors to the church, they lived in Hyde House, which was known as the village Manor and was situated next to the church, where the Hyde Club now stands.
It was reported, ‘that on October 27th 1889 the new East window was dedicated to the Glory of God. We are indebted to the zeal and energy of Miss Kendall for this most handsome addition to our church’. It took about a year of subscriptions, donations, fund-raising, etc.

A quote from an early magazine says, “The subject of the glass is the Crucifixion. In the centre light is the figure of our Lord upon the Cross-. The two side lights have – on the left hand, the figure of the Blessed Virgin; and on the right hand, St. John the Divine. Above are angels holding scrolls bearing the words, “Come unto Me”, “Learn of Me”. Underneath, across the pedestals on which the figures rest is a scroll, with the words, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me”. In the Tracery above the three lights are the emblems of the four Evangelists”.

This was in 1890. Around the same time the Reredos was sketched and made from the desk and pulpit from the Mud Chapel with wood to match up from the sawmill.

In 1889 Mr. Kendall and family started a cricket club and quoits club for the villagers. Many activities took place organised around the church. There was a lending library (1d. per book) and night classes for various subjects.

The Rev’d S R Tomlinson, The First Vicar

A gift of an organ was given in 1888, formerly in St. Mark’s, Woodhill. This was replaced in December 1895 by an organ bought from St. Michael’s, Folkstone, for the cost of £80.00, and again in approximately 1950 by a Walker Chamber Organ bought from Sir Ottobeit’s Estate, near Knebworth, for £400.00 and installed by Walker organ builders. Many gifts have been given since for use and to beautify the church, but have been replaced or become redundant. The altar cross was given by the Kendall family in memory of a daughter, Beatrice, and the stones set in it are some of those which Mrs. Kendall collected on the sea-shore.

The family and parishioners in memory of George Hulks who was a life long member of the church and apparently the one and only Verger, holding the position for many years, gave the candlesticks of beaten silver much later in 1950.

The altar rails, now providing the entrance to the Lady Chapel, and candelabra, were purchased second-hand in the early days, but in the 30’s were discovered to have come originally from St. Etheldreda’s, Hatfield (the Parish Church), so duplicates were installed and the originals taken back.

Thus, the pattern of village life continued until the early 1920’s when Welwyn Garden City was in embryo.

Marriages and funerals were solemnized in the Parish Church in Hatfield. Until the extension of the churchyard by a quarter of an acre to be used as a burial ground. The day of consecration was May 1st 1915. A burial committee was formed, a small fee was charged for tolling the bell after a death, and stringent rules were laid down regarding grave ornaments.

There is a brass memorial plaque to the Kendall family on the North wall: it is a fine example of modern work in the old tradition; the first date to be added was 1840 and the last one in 1966. (Richard Busby, a local historian, mentions in his book ‘Welwyn Garden City’ about the brass and shows a photograph of it).

During the development of Welwyn Garden City, the Revd. J. B. Hunt was appointed Curate-in–Charge of the area, but died in February 1922. The Revd. W. E. Hardcastle was his successor and was in charge until the end of 1927, covering the area around the Campus, where services were held in a hut.

The Revd. S. B. Tomlinson followed and was installed as the first Incumbent of the Parish of Hatfield Hyde.

The church of St. Mary Magdalene was consecrated as a Parish Church on June 2nd, 1928 on its transference to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

The first wedding to be held soon after was that of Grace Cooper and Bertram Johnson.

The first Vestry Meeting was held on April17th, 1928 when 50 people were present and a Church Council was elected, the Church Wardens being Mr. G. Swann and Mr. H. Forster. Fourteen people were elected to the Council.

Interior of St Michael’s Church

At this time the Revd. Tomlinson was living at 10, Valley Green until the vicarage was built – the cost of this being defrayed by Lord Salisbury. The site for the vicarage was chosen in Ludwick Way with a view to building a new parish church next to it. A hall was built and a plot of land reserved for the church.

The Vicar moved into the vicarage in 1928 and died a few weeks later on November 7th. He was laid to rest in the Hyde churchyard.

During this time from the early twenties the Peartree area was being built up. Extra services were taking place in Peartree Club House. There was great enthusiasm for the people of the area to have a place of their own, so great effort was put into building the hall, and the main hall was finished by 1930, the wings being added on six years later.

By this time the incumbent was the Revd. J. Gorton. The population was growing, a curate was needed, and so the Revd. A. L, Toop was appointed and lived in Sandpit Road.
The Mothers’ Union was started in the early twenties, replacing the Mothers’ meetings. The enrolling member at the Hyde was Mrs. Swann. The St. Michael’s branch was started in 1929, the first enrolling member being Mrs. Gorton. The Mothers’ Union banner was bought in 1933 from subscriptions. It was placed for alternate periods in St. Michael’s Church and St. Mary’s. It is now ageing and is being replaced by a new one being made by Jennifer Griffiths, (nee Ivory). Designed by Mrs. Barbara Greensmith it depicts St. Mary Magdalene holding a jar of ointment.

The completion and dedication service of St. Michael and All Angels Hall was held on November 19th, 1936 and this was known as the temporary church. The hall was also known as the ‘Tomlinson Memorial’ to commemorate the work of the first Vicar.

The Revd. J. Gorton left in 1939 and the Revd. L. A. Brown came in 1940. The Peartree folk continued to work for their Church Building Fund. Building of Welwyn Garden City ceased during the war; houses along Hollybush Lane and Hunters Way area remained half finished until after the war. There were no buildings beyond there. The war memorial commemorating the dead of the First World War stood at the junction of three lanes surrounded by trees rather than houses with the exception of the Hyde Dairies, (now the Express Dairies).

After the war, when the situation was more settled, building started again in earnest, creeping along Hollybush Lane, forming a new road called Howlands and growing up in all directions.

St Michael’s Church

During 1958 a plan for a stewardship campaign was launched under the guidance of the Revd’ G. Emmet, as two churches were to be built and together with St. Mary’s had to be maintained, realistic commitment had to be sought. A capital of £25,000 was required.

The plan on the way was.
St. Michael’s Church to grow up in Peartree (the architect had at last been appointed) but £16,000 had to be found before the scheme could be completed.
All Saints Church – already in the blueprint stage – would go ahead. The Diocesan grant of £8,600 would be lost if there was any further delay, £7,000 must be added.
St. Mary’s House, Hatfield Hyde, to be paid off £2,000.

In 1959 a follow-up to the campaign was carried out with a parish supper. A model of the proposed church of St. Michael and All Angels was on view. The write-up for the new church of St. Michael and All Angels was as follows:.Quote: Taken from the local newspaper12th June 1959.
   “A ‘hyperbolical parabaloid’ – that ‘s the technical name given to the design of roof that will be incorporated in the new St. Michael’s Church which is to be erected on the site at the rear end of the existing temporary building in Ludwick Way, Welwyn Garden City.

A model of the church was exhibited at the Homestead Court Hotel last week and the architects were on hand to answer questions about the unorthodox design that had been chosen.

The building (which will cater for a maximum congregation of 300) is almost entirely roof – which rises to a maximum of 45 ft. – and stained glass windows. For two sides of this roughly square edifice are glass and 1,800 sq. ft. of glass is incorporated in these alone. The curvaceous roof will be a concrete shell, cast in situ and two and a half inches thick. There will be no beams or other obvious support.

The Vicar of Hatfield Hyde with Peartree and Ludwick, the parish of which, the church when finished, was to become the Parish Church, the Revd. G. Emmet said: “It’s an exciting design, conceived with consideration to the area it will be in”.

The prime reason for the display at the Homestead Court was to introduce the church to industrialists and others interested, and to acquaint them of the tremendous task, which the parish faced in raising money to foot the bill. Estimated cost is more than £28,000 of which the foundations and structure account for £7,000 and the windows and doors £5,000.

The Parish are still committed to the building of the new All Saints’ Church at Ludwick first (for which they get grant aid). No such aid will be forthcoming to the new parish church.

As well as the model and plans of the new building, photographs and exhibits of the activities of the parish were on view and panels of the stained glass that will be incorporated into the structure, were also on show.”

The results of the stewardship campaign did not yield the income that was expected, so the whole concept for the new parish church had to be abandoned. The £2,000 already collected for the new church was used to make the temporary church of St. Michael’s into a permanent one. The transformation was very pleasing.

Nevertheless, people who had worked very hard for the new church, were very sad and some who were very disillusioned just left.

Going back to 1946 when the Revd. L. A. Brown left and the Revd. H. G. Fores was inducted. The parish was growing very rapidly in the late forties and during the fifties. The fifties population outgrew the Parish Church and St. Michael’s so there was discussion about enlarging St. Mary’s. The expense of this would be footed by the Diocese as it was in the midst of the new housing area, unlike St. Michael’s which was established in a built-up area.

At the same time an ecumenical group started in the Hall Grove area in the Ludwick Family Club. All Saints Day 1953 marked the celebration of Holy Communion, conducted by the ministers of the different denominations concerned. In the summer of 1956 the united experiment was unanimously but regretfully abandoned. An extract from the church register reads “The experiment was probably too far ahead of its time to be successful, but much has been learnt which will be of value”.

So the church became fully incorporated into the life of this Parish of Hatfield Hyde and the congregation agreed to its designation as All Saints’ Church. The foundation stone was laid of the Church of All Saints’, Ludwick, on 24th September 1960 by Bishop John Trillo, Bishop of Hertford (later Bishop of Chelmsford).

The exterior of this church and also the expansion of St. Mary’s would be financed by the Diocese. The people of All Saints worked very hard to furnish it.

Dedication and Hallowing of the Altar was on Saturday, 4th November 1961 by Michael, Lord Bishop of St. Albans. The Revd. D. Cook was Curate-in-Charge during all this transition, following the Revd. M. Daniel, the Church of England member of the ecumenical team.

While all this was happening at All Saints’, changes were taking place in the rest of the parish. The Revd. H. Fores left at the end of 1952,
In 1953 an Ecclesiastical Re-organisation Committee formed a group to review the re-organisation of the local parishes in and around Welwyn Garden City. There were six parishes within the area of the New Town. The outcome was that the Revd. G. Keable, Vicar of St. Francis’ Church, W.G.C. was appointed Priest-in-Charge of this parish, the Revd. P. Foort to continue to be curate at St. Mary’s and a Priest-in-Charge, the Revd. D. Read, was appointed for St. Michael’s area. The vicarage was renamed St. Michael’s House.

The other parishes fought for their own independence. At this time Lord Salisbury discontinued his benefice to the parish but continued to be Patron.

The time had come for the extension of St. Mary’s that created difficulties for the Church Wardens and Curates. Decisions on how the church was to be extended had to be taken and plans, very unacceptable to the parish, were put forward. In the end a compromise was made, the result being, in effect, two churches side by side. This has never been successful, each succeeding Incumbent changing the furniture round a little. There was a pulpit made by a parishioner at the time of the extension, which was tried in different places to try to get the best effect.

There was much unrest and people were moving to other churches. Those left were saying, “We need a vicar of our own”.
After three years trial it was agreed that Hatfield Hyde should be independent again. The Revd. G. Keable stated that the Diocesan authorities had no idea of the responsibility involved in being in charge of such a large area.

The Revd. P. Foort, Curate, left in 1955 and the Revd. M. Peiris transferred from St. Francis’ parish

In 1956 when the ties with St. Francis’ Church were cut, an incumbent was appointed, the Revd. G. Emmet. Also in 1953 the ‘Kendall Home’, which later had been occupied by the family of Gurney, (Mrs. Gurney being Vicar’s Warden for 14 years) was sold to the local authorities to be used as a social club. The parish activities and Sunday School took place there. Later it became ‘unsafe’ so was demolished, another bit of the Hyde gone, the row of cottages opposite having already disappeared.

In August 1957 the new extension of St. Mary Magdalene and furnishings were blessed and the altar consecrated by the Bishop of St. Albans – Michael Gresford Jones. The new church house next to the church was also blessed afterwards.

Among the furnishings donated in 1954 were the two Churchwarden’s staves made in brass by Mr. F. Newland Smith, a famous Welwyn Garden City metal worker. One stave portrays St. Mary Magdalene and a mitre, the other the precious jar of ointment and a cross. In 1957,Mr. Jim Mattock, also a local craftsman made the lectern, the vicar’s stall, pulpit and font cover The pulpit is now in use in the Parish of Campton. The lectern is at the Education Centre, All Saints', Hall Grove.

The Revd. G. Smith came in 1957 at the beginning of the opening of the new extension and moved into the new Church House. He stayed for six years.

With hindsight it was the beginning of a new era, with three churches in the parish and at times four priests on clergy staff. Everything looked promising for the mission of the church, but church membership did not expand as hoped.

Although the parish was still expanding, the financial situation was not growing at the same rate. In fact, the income was far less than the outgoings. So, something had to be done. At a Harvest Supper held in the Community Centre in 1959, presided over by the Revd. G. Emmet, a stewardship campaign was launched for planned giving, instead of relying on annual fetes and etc. A visitation was made to the parish by professional financial advisors with talks and activities organised. It helped, but the parish was never flourishing due to rising inflation. It could never keep out of debt for very long.

All Saints Church Being Built

The Revd. J. T. Wenham came as Curate following the Revd. G. Smith at St. Mary’s Church House. He will be remembered for campaigning for the church hall. The church house was more or less being used by the parish as a meeting place, hundreds of pairs of feet tramping through weekly: All of which no privacy at all for the family living there. A scheme was set up for so many people to give one shilling each week for three years. In this way the cedar wood building was erected a t a cost of £6,000.

The Revd. J. T. Wenham became Rector of St. Mary’s, Welwyn and also Rural Dean.

As mentioned earlier, there were at times a clergy staff of four covering the three churches. Also requiring chaplancy, in the year 1963 the new Queen Elizabeth II Hospital with at that time 320 beds.

Following the Revd. Wenham at Church House was the Revd. B. Berry – he stayed for three years.
The Revd. J. Payton followed the Revd. D. Cook in the All Saints area for some years, then in the St. Mary’s area, a total of nine years.
· The Revd. H. Morton stayed for two years.
· The Revd. J. W. Pragnall for five years.
· The Revd. E. R. Littler for five years.
· The Revd. J. Weir stayed for four years.
· The Revd. J. Barnard for four years.

These seven curates lived in All Saints and St. Mary’s areas. The population had now reached 26,000 and the Vicar, the Revd. G. Emmet left in 1964 and the Revd. J. Gravelle was inducted.

By 1977 the two curates, the Revd. J. Weir and the Revd. J. Barnard had left and the Revd. P. Banham arrived in September as an assistant priest to help with the parish and as Chaplain to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital

The three congregations were quite happy in their own one third of the parish doing their own thing, only coming together annually on party occasions and Annual Parochial Church Meetings. Representatives meeting together for P.C.C. and other major meetings, each having their own steering committee, meant that parish members were virtually strangers to one another.

In 1968 a Festival of Flowers was held in St. Mary’s. It was a great occasion when it drew all the flower arranging enthusiasts from the three churches, so it was a great time for fellowship and working together with one aim. It was a huge success and drew crowds on the three days it was open.

It was such a success that it was repeated again in 1971 on a more ambitious scale, using a theme based on ‘The Creation’. This too proved very successful.
The Revd. R. W. Dray arrived as incumbent in the same year. He came into a situation of three churches where the financial side was lurching from one crisis to another. Something had to be done about it. So help was asked of Mr. Rex Clarke, the Diocesan Financial Advisor. The outcome was to set up a pastoral reorganisation group in 1973. They worked for months on this problem, searching for the best solution. The group was made up of people from each section of the parish.

The result was heartache for lots of people but the parish had to live within its means.

The All Saints Church was taken over by the Diocese as the Education Centre. Diocesan Education Staff worked from an office at the Diocesan Office, Holywell Hill, St. Albans then transferred to Hatfield Hyde.

The Education Centre was open to be used for all who are sought help in religious education and was a great asset to have within the parish. It was also one of the three centres in the Diocese for the Ministerial Training Scheme for the training of laity for a wider ministry, as well as for the ordination for some, while continuing their careers or jobs in society.

St. Michael’s Church and adjacent land was sold to the County Council for the sum of £40.000 for development of a Centre for the Handicapped to work, with a building next to it for use as a residential centre. This also is an advantage to the local community. The centre was opened in July 1982.

St. Mary’s was to remain as the Parish Church, but as this was inadequate to serve the whole parish, some alterations had to take place, remembering that the extension in 1957 was a compromise and was never satisfactory.

The money collected from the St. Michael’s sale was put into investments at Diocesan level and it could be used for church community facilities but not for running expenses. An architect’s advice was taken on the various ways in which the church could be extended. Mr. Philip Wood’s first plan would have more than swallowed up the £40,000. So different ideas were put forward, allowing for a residual amount always to be left invested. The work was to be done by the Youth Opportunities Scheme and the Manpower Services Commission, dealing with the growing problem of unemployment in our society, would finance some of the cost.

It was agreed that St. Mary’s Hall should become the headquarters for the Youth Opportunities Scheme of the whole Diocese, involving about 23 jobs in all to start with.

The first alteration to take place was the levelling of the sanctuary floor and furnishing it as a Lady Chapel and Bishop Peter of Hertford, later Bishop of Truro, dedicated it in July 1978. The chamber organ was moved from the gallery of the main church and was rebuilt in its original place within the Lady Chapel, under the direction of Christopher Ivory before he went to Queen’s College, Birmingham, to study for the priesthood. The Chapel is dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, All Saints and The Blessed Virgin Mary. The electric organ, which had been brought from All Saints when that church had been taken over by the Education Team, had a limited life span. So an opportunity was taken to procure a pipe organ from a church in Bedfont, which was given as a gift.

During the Autumn of 1979, Christopher Ivory with a team of helpers, went to Bedfont to dismantle the organ and bring it back to the parish and put it in store with other church property taken there during the extensive church alterations. The pipes were painted in the typical Victorian ornate designs. These were stripped by Nick Ivory, and during his vocational periods were polished by Chris who also worked on the wooden part of the organ with Mr. S. Milburn doing the carpentry side of it.

Quite a number of new small pipes were built into the structure under the advice of the organ builder Matthew Copley who was responsible for the final voicing. This was completed in the Spring of 1981, along with the main part of the church.

The sanctuary was finished; Churchwarden Philip Burke gave the carpet and altar rails in memory of his wife Nellie. Pupils of The Howard School made the altar rails under the guidance of their woodwork master, Mr Wilson. The cross over the altar came from All Saints Church where it had hung previously. The crucifix over the memorial plaque on the west wall came from St. Michael’s Church where it had hung over the altar.

Mr. Bryn Jones gifted a memorial book in freestanding case in memory of his wife Antonia. Illustrations on the memorial page depict, the daffodil for Wales – Bryn, the edelweiss for Austria – his wife who was born there, the Austrian coat of arms and the emblem for St. Mary Magdalene. All the names of people laid to rest in the churchyard, either buried or cremated remains, are entered in this book which is situated In the Lady Chapel.

Money ran out before upper room, toilets or staircase were completed and the contract with the Youth Opportunity Scheme had to be terminated. The remaining work was done voluntarily as an ongoing task over a long period. Mr. Colin Smith, a newcomer to the parish family, completed the panelling in the toilets. A stalwart team of parishioners plastered the staircase; Mr. B. Thomas completed electrical installations.

Contact with the Probation Service was made by the P.C.C. in 1979 and Mrs Shadbolt came to talk on the Community Offenders Service and its procedures. The result was a squad of men and boys guided by their leader, Mr. Mark Tarran from the Probation Service, re-shaped and landscaped the churchyard. Their brief; grave curbstones to be removed and the whole area grassed over.

A corner in the Southwest area was converted to a memorial garden for the burial of ashes and surrounded by rose bushes, this being completed in the Summer of 1981.

During 1980 a gathering at The Howard School launched a Church Membership Mission campaign. Diocesan speakers were invited to enlighten the parishioners on the financial situation of the church and where priorities lay. House Groups would follow in 1981 and 1982 involving everyone on the Electoral Roll to discuss the future pattern of life and ministry in the parish. A great awareness of people who have to be transported to church because of the distances involved and many problems still to be resolved. Reference should be made to the basis of the Church Membership Mission from the Consultative Paper written by the Revd. R. W. Dray and agreed by the P.C.C. to be the springboard for the use of our human resources in the years ahead.

On the day of Corpus Christi, 18th June 1981, there was a celebration and dedication of the work done and installation of the sanctuary, organ and memorial book, presided over by John Taylor, Bishop of St. Albans.

The Cedar Hall was leased on 1st April 1982, partly to the St. Albans Diocesan Youth Training Scheme for their headquarters of the very considerable scheme now operating in all parts of the diocese and part also to the Hertfordshire Probation and Aftercare Service as a rehabilitation unit.

1982 saw the culmination of ten years of planning and working with the Vicar, the Revd. R. W. Dray at the helm. The Parish Archives contain much illustrative material, including a set of slides and a tape recording showing the stages of work in the re-development of the Parish Church.

A great debt of gratitude is owed to the many people involved in the whole project, some who can be named:
The Pastoral Organisation Group.
Deputy Chairman - Mr. D. Squirrell.
Churchwardens – Mr. P. Burke & Mr B. Gearing.
Ex Warden – Mr. A. Lythe.
The Development Committee including Mr. C. Shaw.
The Architect – Mr. P. Woods.
and others, too numerous to mention individually but without whom completion of the undertaking would never have been achieved.
Nell Ivory – Parish Archivist
R W Dray – Parish Priest

From 1983:

1983 marked the centenary of the parish, for which this history was written. There were celebrations throughout the year. These included monthly concerts, a display of the history of Hatfield Hyde by Commonswood school, a July flower festival, craft fair, and a Harvest Missionary Weekend. The next year saw some of the proceeds from the centenary celebrations being used to buy copies of a new hymn book.

On July 11th 1984 Rev’d Peter Banham, a clergyman serving in the parish, died unexpectedly The Bishop attended his requiem in the church on July 18th at which Canon Myles Raikes was the preacher. His wife Sheila soon moved to Stevenage where the couple had planned to retire, with a generous gift from the parish. In November Peter Wetz was appointed to the post of curate within the parish. However Peter left after six months.

In July 1986 the Vicar, The Rev’d Bob Dray announced that he was leaving the parish to be a hospital chaplain in Hastings. He left on September 7th of that year. He was replaced by The Rev’d Simon Bannister who was inducted on 19th January 1987. During that year two deacons were ordained to serve within the parish: Fr Keith Passant, and the Rev’d Judith Stobart.

In 1989 there was a flower festival from 29th September to 2nd October called “Autumn Praise”, to make money for urgently needed roofing repairs.
In September 1990, Canon Terence Wenham, then Rector of St Mary’s Welwyn, formally curate in Hatfield Hyde, died.

1992 was marked by serious building work. Cedar Tree Hall was razed to the ground, and both the church and Church House needed large amounts of work done on them.

In 1993 there were celebrations to mark 110 years of the parish. There was also a covenant with the local Methodist Church. This enabled the Methodist congregation to hold services within the church, and for their minister to preside at a Holy Communion Service. Fr Keith Passant took early retirement and Heather Levinge began her ministry as a reader in the parish.

The Rev’d Simon Bannister left in 1994 to the parish of St Martin’s in Brasted in the Rochester Diocese. He was replaced by Fr Michael Banks who was instituted by the Bishop of Hertford on March 8th 1995. Fr Michael began to work extensively with young people. There was a holiday club after Easter that year. In June and July there were two Golden Weddings celebrated: Brian and Ruth French, and Ken and Irene Brotherhood.

On 3rd February 1996 Nell Ivory, the Church Archivist, who did so much towards the first edition of this history died. There was a requiem at the church. Importantly from June 1996, the church started to open its doors every morning. A very important sign that we are a living and serving community, and much appreciated by those who call in. On the Patronal Festival David West was commissioned as a Parish Assistant by the Bishop of Hertford. David left the parish to move to York in March 2002. In October Dennis and Edna Farrow celebrated their Golden Wedding.

1996 saw the start of an Alpha course, which was an important way of introducing people to the Christian faith. A PA system was also installed in the church. Bishop Christopher Herbert, of St Albans, was the preacher and celebrant at the Eucharist and Confirmation service that marked the Patronal Festival. July also saw the deaths of Princess Diana, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta within a week of one another. The church held a special evensong service on the following Sunday.

1998 was further developments in youth work with the starting of the Youth Club for teenagers, and Explorers for 8-11’s. Explorers emerged when the original Discoverers group (ages 5-11) was divided into two. In October and November that year Fr Michael Banks was granted a two month sabbatical in which he studied new forms of parish ministry. The church also donated a chair to the re-chairing of St Albans Cathedral. However to this day it has not been found in the Cathedral (this is not surprising – there are nearly 2000! But do have a look when you next visit.)

1999 saw the start of building a new Vicarage at the rear of the church. This left Church House free for a newly arriving curate. Fr Stuart Seaton was ordained deacon on 4th July 1999, and then started work in the parish. He is married to Hilary. At the time of writing Fr Stuart is about to move to Aldenham School to work in the Chaplaincy team after 3 ½ years in the parish. However the year also sadly marked the start of heart illness for Fr Michael that would eventually lead him to retire early in 2001.

In February 2000 Heather Levinge, reader left the parish. The main organ had some £6000 spent on it, including giving it a new “quieter” stop. In July 2000 Fr Stuart was ordained priest.

Fr Michael Banks retired early due to ill health in February 2001. He and his wife Judith moved to Norfolk. Fr Stuart had a hard-working year alone in the parish, until Fr David Munchin arrived from St Albans Cathedral in February 2002. Fr David had been Precentor at the Cathedral. Whilst there he had married Ysmena Pentelow herself now trained for ordained ministry. Between June 2003 and August 2006 Graeme Richardson was curate in the Parish, he left us to become Chaplain to Brasenose College, Oxford.

The Diocesan Education centre moved back to St Albans in 2007. That meant that All Saints could again become a functioning church within this busy and large parish. In March 2007 Paul Seymour and his family joined the parish as Assistant Minister with a brief to work to build up All Saints and work in partnership with the YMCA.

In September 2007 Tony Willis joined the team as curate and was ordained at St Albans Cathedral on September 28th 2008. He left the parish at the end of August 2010.

Vicars of Hatfield Hyde

S R Tomlinson 1927-1928
J P P Gorton    1929-1939
J A Brown    1940-1946
H J Fores    1946-1952
Geoffrey Keable    1953-1956
A G Emmet    1956-1964
J E Gravelle    1964-1971
R W Dray    1971-1986
Simon M Bannister    1987-1994
Michael Banks    1995-2001
David Munchin    2002-2010
Averil Lauckner  2011-

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