Chapter Five - The First Half-Century

In 1909 “The summer festival was held on June 17th in a field kindly lent by Mr Strong. Races and games of various kinds were indulged in and altogether a very enjoyable time was spent by all. The annual flower service was held in July conducted by the Rev V.A. Barradale. A choice assortment of flowers were brought by the scholars and older friends and after the service the flowers were taken to the county hospital”, and in 1910 “The summer festival was held in Mr Newman’s field at Harrowden, unfortunalty [sic] the day was very showery, thus to a certain extent marring the pleasure, that otherwise would have been complete, still everyone made the best of the circumstances, & enjoyed themselves as much as possible by indulging in various games & amusements. The annual flower service was conducted by our minister the Rev V.A. Barradale MA a choice assortment of flowers & plants were brought, and on the following day were taken to the Bedford work-house”. Mothers’ meetings were held in the vestry, and at the Harvest Festivals the church was full of flowers and there was always a sale of the produce. One of the preachers (a man named Mr Abney) would always take a taxi to the church he was preaching at as he treated Sunday as the Sabbath and so did absolutely no work on it!

London Zoo

However, in 1914 it was recorded “This year has not been one of all sunshine, there has been the cloud […] 2 scholars of our school & 1 teacher, and all members of the choir, have been called in the space of 5 short weeks from service here” but the church members trusted in God and because of this, the secretary wrote; “the silver lining of this heavy cloud will become golden”. The church was affected by the upheaval caused by World War One as some members of the church had gone to fight while other troops were billeted in the village and from church minutes we get an idea of the determination of church members to work for the good of the church despite the unusual circumstances: Our work during the winter was somewhat dislocated owing to the presence of the troops being in the village, instead of the CE meeting, usually held on Sunday Evenings after the service, the church was opened for the soldiers to come in and spend a pleasant hour in song [...] It may seem as though little if any spiritual progress has been made during the year owing to some of our workers having joined the forces. We have had to labour somewhat short handed, under abnormal conditions, but let every worker and member, remember they are in the fighting line, and that there must be no relaxing but rather a strengthening of our efforts during the coming year, so that the work here does not suffer on our account. In the war years there were collections for wounded soldiers, and a widows and orphans fund. On 31st October 1915 there was a public meeting when the Rev A.E. Claxton from Hankow in China “gave a most interesting address on the conquests of the cross in China”. Coke and coal in 1920 cost £4 19s 3½d. Oil for that year cost £1 14s as electric lights were not installed until 1931. The money from the collections from the congregations during the services went to the London Missionary Society (LMS) and British and Foreign Bible Society.

During World War Two the church dealt with all the changes that the war brought about: in December 1941 the church paid £3 15s for war damage insurance, whereas fire insurance for that year was just 15s. The stone laying ceremony had been observed annually but during the war these anniversaries were discontinued until 19th July 1945. In addition, members of the church were appointed to go out and visit members of the community who could not attend the church due to illness: in January 1945 Mrs Sinfield became the sick visitor for Cople and Mrs Pestell became the sick visitor for Cardington. In 1948 a permanent communion table was set up. It was in pitch pine and cost 30 guineas.

Golden Jubliee ceremony

Ten years later, an entry in the church minutes for April 1957 stated; “Jubilee Year, 1958 It was proposed by Mr Pestell and seconded by Mr Keech and all in favour that we celebrate the jubilee year by redecorating the interior of the church [...] it was thought that we should aim at the beginning of July for a special celebration service and re-opening”. On the day, the celebrations began with Mrs Pestell reopening the church, followed by a public tea and service with the choir from Howard Church, Bedford. An entry in the minutes for 7th October 1958 reads, “Mr Smith said that the opening was a great success and was glad that one of our members, Mrs Pestell, was able to open the door”.

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