Vicar's letter August/September2017

Lord of all, to thee we raise, this our joyful hymn of praise.”


As I write this our Harvest Festival celebrations seem a long way off but for those who tend our surrounding farms, and for gardeners, the harvest is fast approaching. It is a time of uncertainty, often weather dependent, and where the hope of spring planting is tested as the fruits appear. For our ancestors it meant life or death for the winter months. To our modern farmers and commercial growers it remains an important consideration in maintaining a livelihood.


Jesus often used agricultural ideas in his teaching. Like us, those he talked to lived in areas reliant on the fruit of the land and the sea. Whatever his story he spoke always of God the giver, the one who provides for our needs. Harvest may be a useful time for us to reflect on the differences between the things that we want and the things that we need. It may also be an opportunity to give thanks for all that we have - even if we are not sure who it is that we are thanking.


During our harvest celebrations in church this year, amongst the marrows and the wheat sheaves, we will be giving thanks for the harvest of our gifts. For all the wonderful things that flower in our communities and for those who make them happen. Everyone is very welcome to come along and give thanks at one of our Harvest Festival services, which take place at the end of September. I shall look forward to seeing you there.


May your harvest be rich and fruitful,



Back to top of page

April in St Peter's Patch

April in St Peter's Patch

Bells and bells


In the 14th century bluebells were first recorded and described by a Friar Henry Daniel as “lilies of the wood…. like daffodils but blue”. Reflecting of Victorian imagery, their depiction in our Lady Chapel window in the 1930’s, would have been to symbolise sorrow; their bell heads hung in sadness at Christ’s crucifixion.


In contrast, the Woodland Trust this spring ran a campaign to record all British bluebell sightings in the UK to celebrate their glory….. My family and I went on two bluebell “pilgrimages” to Foxley Wood near Fakenham and then Sisland Carr next to nearby Loddon. But, in our own St Peter’s Patch we have only one patch behind the front railings, but I am pleased to say that these are English bluebells, not the Spanish import.


For St Peter’s April was bells month. The bells project in the tower: the installation of the new frame, the redecoration of the ringing chamber and the re-hanging of the bells was speeding to its conclusion throughout April. So in honour of our splendid St Peter’s bells I am writing about bluebells. In Brooke there were more in flower around the Meres than in the churchyard. Perhaps this is apt as the church bells ring out for us all to hear throughout the village.


There is another quality that makes the bluebell magical: it is in a hurry… The flowers have to beat the closing over of the tree canopy and their rush to become themselves is what makes them taut and glossy”… “ It doesn't last; as soon as they are perfect, they are over. Within a couple of weeks, the entire population will be drowned as if a flood has run through the wood. Now is the moment: it's when spring turns into summer.” So wrote the writer and historian Adam Nicolson in the Guardian in the spring of 2010.


This was such an apt quote for our April in St Peter’s: “in a hurry”. Everything had to be ready for the visit of Bishop Graham Norvic to rededicate the bells in a special service. You can’t slow down the progress of spring to summer and as a church we could not delay for the great moment of the special church service on May 7th.



Back to top of page

Brooke Bells ring out good news

Brooke Bells ring out good news

The bells of St Peter’s Church in Brooke rang again on Sunday 7th May following six months of being silent to rehang them in a new frame. Last November, the bells were taken out of the tower to be fitted with new headstocks, wheels and clappers and returned in April to be rehung in the newly installed steel frame. The work has been carried out by John Taylor and Co bellhangers assisted by local volunteers. The bells were rededicated by the Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James at a special service on 7th May at 6.30 in St Peter’s Church. The service included commissioning the ringers to ring the newly rehung bells and they were rung by the local band as part of the service with open ringing afterwards.


Thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers and donations from villagers and the Friends of St Peters, the project will ensure the bells ring out for the future. New fittings were last installed in 1912 and this project, which was awarded £58,900 from HLF, should see them lasting for the next 100 years.


The six bells were installed in the existing timber frame in 1758 by Joseph Mallows of Dereham and are the best surviving example of Joseph Mallows bells in the county. The bells in the new frame are ‘easier’ to ring and this will encourage more people, especially younger ones, to take up this ancient skill. The National Lottery funded project has also included community involvement from the local history group, scouts and the village school.


Dawn Pullan, the ringing master said: “We now look forward to regular ringing again and welcoming new ringers to ensure that the bells are heard throughout the village for many years to come. I would like to thank all those who have generously donated time and money to this worthwhile project.”




Back to top of page

March Days 2017

March Days 2017

 “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.”


So wrote Charles Dickens in Great Expectations. We stood outside the side door of church last Sunday morning (26th) during our Mothering Sunday Café Church making bug boxes for St Peter’s Patch. It was extremely warm in the lovely March sunshine although a few hours earlier, we would have felt the chill of winter in the same spot.


As if on cue, as the young people were assembling their bug hotels, using sections of bamboo and hollow plant stems packed into lengths of drainage pipe, a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly landed nearby and posed for a photograph. Some hibernate throughout the winter. Today also the ladybirds were warming up and flying around.


The three bug boxes made that morning are now hung under the conifers on the north side of the Churchyard. Ladybirds like to hibernate in the nooks and crannies in dead wood, and the homemade artificial homes can mimic this.


Lacewings are pretty insects that like similar accommodation to help make it through the winter. Such minibeasts like a chambered box to stay when it’s cold and they’ll have a better chance of waking up in the spring.


In the grassy areas of the churchyard the ground is green with long grass shoots and the woodland plant species are in flower.  Early lesser celandines open their yellow petals in the sun, however when it’s dull the flowers remain closed.  Red deadnettle and mouse-eared chickweed are also growing in abundance under the blue cedar tree in the front churchyard.


We most associate the primrose with this time of year. There are carpets of them on the back lanes into Brooke at the moment. St Peter’s churchyard, however, is not quite so well endowed although we photographed a few. They like to set seed in well-drained grass around early July.

Our native birds time their breeding season to the warmest part of the year, when there is plenty of food and lots of daylight in which to find it. As winter turns to spring, the lengthening daylight switches male birds into breeding mode. We watched starlings and robins together with coal tits, blue tits and gold finches in the tree cover on the eastern and northern boundaries.

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust are working with us on a fabulous wildlife day in the churchyard on Saturday 24th June, 11 – 3, “Wild about St. Peter’s”. It will be free to all. Save the date and find out more on further posts and watch out for posters and flyers nearer the time.



Back to top of page

E-mail Updates

Always be the first to know. Tailor your e-mail update to suit your preferences. You can set it to check for updates to the site at a frequency that suits you. You will only be mailed when there is new content.

Sign up / Sign in »

Get in touch

Comments? Good or bad experiences of the site?
Phone: 01508 558073

Online contact form »