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|2382: St John
the Evangelist, Kenn nr Clevedon, Somerset, England
© Robert Cutts and used under license
Worshipper: Chris Churchcrawler.
John the Evangelist, Kenn nr Clevedon, Somerset, England.
of England, Diocese
of Bath and Wells.
A tiny single cell church on flat land near Clevedon and not
far from where the famous 1603 tidal wave covered the fields.
The church has a tiny Norman tower with an odd pyramidical spire
that peeps up above the flat land and houses. The rest of the
church was restored in 1861 by the Bristol architects Foster
and Wood, known for their Wesleyan chapels and one Moravian
church in Kingswood. The rebuild appears to have reused the
perpendicular tracery in windows. The whole interior has a nice
open wagon roof with the chancel marked by a cusped brace. There
is also the 16th century tomb of Christopher Kenn, the last
of the Kenn family, who held the manor here from the 12th to
It is part of the Yatton group of churches. There is a Sunday
Club for children and coffee mornings for the adults. A pastoral
care team co-ordinates visitations to the elderly, sick and
bereaved. On their website they state that they have a reputation
for tolerance and are prepared to try new forms of service and
Kenn was the scene of some very public hangings (the last of
such) in the 19th century where some Somerset men were accused
of setting a local farmer's wheat alight. The hangings drew
quite a crowd of spectators. Three people were hanged; three
others were transported to Tasmania. Kenn was also home to the
Kenn family, who were associated with Bishop Thomas Kenn of
Wells, bishop during the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, an attempt
to overthrow King James II which culminated in the battle of
Sedgemoor. Today Kenn is a small village a couple of miles from
the sea wall on a busy road and with a pub. In the distance
can be seen Crook Peak, an important landmark and boundary from
very early times.
The Revd Prebendary John Andrews, Bath and Wells Diocesan Communications
Officer and Bishop's Press Officer and half time team vicar.
It was his last service at Kenn before retiring from the benefice.
The date & time:
20 May 2012, 6.00pm.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
I was quite surprised. Including the choir, there were 27 people
present. Not bad for a small village I would have expected
a handful at the most!
Did anyone welcome you
I had cycled the Strawberry Line at Yatton (a disused railway
line that used to transport strawberries to Bristol). I noticed
a service was about to take place, so introduced myself to the
vicar. As I entered my pew, a lady introduced herself and mentioned
that she didn't think there'd be an organist at this service.
I said that I was an organist and was about to head off to the
organ when Roy, the organist, came in at the last minute!
Was your pew comfortable?
Standard Victorian pew however, not too bad!
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
My immediate neighbours introduced themselves. There was some
chatting going on but not across the aisle!
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good evening, everybody!" The vicar then said hello
to individuals in the congregation (clearly a local congregation
rather than gathered) and welcomed back one lady who had just
returned from Australia ("G'day," he said). He also
said that he had asked the organist to play the tune of the
football club that the other Yatton vicar supports, as they
had lost! He was quite amusing.
What books did the congregation use during the
Good old Hymns Ancient and Modern and the 1662 Book
of Common Prayer.
What musical instruments were played?
An organ. It sounded like a real pipe organ, but my neighbour
in the pew in front said something about there being an electric
instrument. There was an organ chamber but there were no visible
pipes. There was a small choir at the front of the church.
Did anything distract
Christopher Kenn and his family (wife, two daughters, and infant)
in their 16th century costumes and ruffs looking down at me
from the west wall during the whole service!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
It was Prayer Book evensong at its most traditional. No showmanship
or gimmicks just a beautiful plain 1662 service. The
immortal words "We have erred and strayed like lost sheep"
and "Light in our darkness we beseech thee O Lord!"
hung in the timeless atmosphere.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
10 The vicar had a very clear style of preaching
and I'm sure he saw me jotting notes a couple of times.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
Looking back! He referred to a return trip to the parish church
at Burnham on Sea where he had served his curacy. He was taught
many things there, especially about pastoral work, that he could
not have learned at theological college. He said that God was
more concerned about now rather than the past and present. However,
he stressed the importance of heritage and knowing where we
have come from, which he said was pertinent to recently celebrating
the restoration of the present church. One phrase that stayed
with me was "God's eternal day is here for ever."
Which part of the service was like being in
Without doubt, the 1662 liturgy and the hymns chosen. The words
"Lighten our darkness O Lord" and the words of a hymn
written by the Oxford Movement churchman John Keble were really
very moving indeed.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The fact that I didn't have anything for the collection. However,
the kindly ladies with the collection plates must have been
tipped off as they didn't offer it me!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The vicar talked to me about his retirement and some facts about
How would you describe the after-service
There wasn't anything after the service.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 A friendly local congregation keeping a lovely liturgy
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The Kenn family looking down from the tower wall at me!
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