Clumber Church celebrates 150th

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By Courteney George Bradfield

Clumber Church, in the vale of Clumber in the Eastern Cape, 5km from Bathurst just off the Shaw Park road, has seen various renovations taking place since 2015.

To celebrate the completion of the repair and restoration tasks, which coincide with the 150th anniversary members of the church will host an exciting 150th anniversary celebration from 20 to 22 October.

On 20 October at 2pm we are laying a flower token on each and every grave to honour those who have gone before. That evening there will be an auction at the Pig and Whistle Inn in Bathurst with Jeremy Mansfield as auctioneer, to raise funds for the ongoing church repairs. Saturday 20 October starting at 11am will be a full day of music and song, ending at 3.30pm. Graeme College Steel Band, Scottish Dancing, Kentones Male Choir, Keiskamma Music Academy, DSG and St Andrews Wind Orchestra, Alfred Mnaba Choir are all part of the line-up.

On Sunday 22 October there will be a Celebratory Holy Communion with our Circuit Minister and District Bishop presiding. At 12pm a wreath will be laid in honour of the Nottingham Party. We end off the celebrations with a High Tea. See the Clumber Church website for details.

Leading up to the Clumber Church celebration from 20 to 22 October, Grocott’s Mail will publish the history of the Clumber Church.

This week we focus on the renovations to the church, the main reason for the celebrations in October:

In December 2015 it was seen that the steeple was literally falling apart. Swarms of bees inhabited the space and this rotted the supporting central sneezewood pillar. Ian Rudman, a master craftsman from Port Alfred undertook the disassembling of the structure and a rework of the sneezewood orb. He reassembled the entire structure in January 2016.

In July and August 2016 there was great concern as the roof was leaking badly. The Yellowood floors and pews were being damaged, the walls were streaked and damp and the 1902 Harmonium and Gors and Kallmann piano, also from 1902, were under threat from the damp conditions.

As the congregation is small and quite unable to cope financially with the costs of repairs, it was decided to try social media in an attempt to raise funds. A website, clumberchurch.simdif.com, was published together with two FaceBook pages, one to update progress on the repairs and the other to reflect happenings at the church. In September we stepped out in faith with no funds in our Restoration Account and ordered the material for the roof –  R65 000 was needed for this project. At completion that amount had been donated. We then repaired our harmonium and piano, at a cost of R15 000. Again, we did not have the funds when we commissioned the repairs, but on completion of the work, precisely one day later, we had the funds available. Miracles. To celebrate, we held a Carols by Candlelight Service in early December, the first in the church’s living memory.


Neil Pike relettering his GGG Grandfather William Pike’s grave.

In January 2017 we commenced with the repainting of the interior and the repairs to the Yellowwood floors and the Yellowwood pews. A section of wall was uncovered which showed an earlier darker green had been used in the past together with a stencilled pattern. This area has been retained. The floors and pews were sanded and sealed and are now looking magnificent.

Once the interior was completed, we then repainted the exterior. Simultaneously our farmers started clearing the common of invasive bush as well as alien vegetation. This was concluded in July when we called in a contractor to assist in this huge task.

In April we convened a Work Party to scrub and clean the gravestones and regravelling where necessary. A second Work Party in July almost completed our objective of cleaning approximately 200 graves.

Our funding appeals have resulted in the church being totally restored, ready to serve many future generations.

Beginning of roof replacement

Beginning of roof replacement.

Courteney George Bradfield attended Clumber Church, Clumber Sunday School and Clumber School in his youth. A descendant of Granville Glasson Bradfield, father, Edmund George Bradfield, grandfather, Jonathan Bradfield, Great Grandfather, Joseph Bradfield, GG Grandfather and John Bradfield GGG Grandfather, all buried at Clumber. He is the current compiler of the church website and Chairman of the church committee.

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