All Saints, East Garston
The rural parish of East Garston is an attractive place to live, not just because of its picturesque, peaceful ambience, with open downlands, pretty thatched cottages and a clear babbling stream (most years) running through the main village, but because it also has a thriving, lively, friendly community. The parish is roughly seven square miles in area but is long and thin from north to south. It consists of the main village of East Garston, which is clustered around the river Lambourn in the valley, and several hamlets on the outer fringes of the parish. These are Goodings, Poughley, part of Woodlands Saint Mary and Pounds Farm.
The population is upwards of 600 people, who live in 250 dwellings. Although there is a core of long established residents, a significant group of inhabitants are the young families who have moved to the parish to give their children a country upbringing.
The church is in a peaceful area of the village and is approached through the grounds of the adjacent Manor Farm. It is a Late Norman (1190AD) cruciform building of flint, with a later south aisle and porch and a north chancel chapel. The church was rescued from a state of poor repair by the Victorians and so, very little of the original building remains apart from the Norman door inside the south porch. The Victorian stained glass installed in all the windows is noteworthy, being painted by Nathanial Westlake, as are the wall painting of the Tree of Jesse in the nave, and the painting of the Nativity on the reredos in the chapel. The tower contains a ring of 6 bells which are rung regularly for normal Sunday services as well as for Weddings and sometimes Funerals and Baptisms. The church is mentioned in the updated Pevsner Guide to the Buildings of Berkshire, published in 2010.
In addition to the regular services of Holy Communion on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, there are occasional family services: Christingle, Nativity, Mothering Sunday, with children from the young families taking an active part – meeting and greeting, reading prayers, singing and taking the collection.
The parish has been reminded that the church is there for everyone, a place of celebration and happiness as well as a refuge for worship, tranquillity, peace and prayer. The idea has been nurtured that there are many ways of serving the church and people from all corners of the parish, regardless of their church going practice, volunteer to help in a myriad of ways. People are happy to be associated with the church.
Among our aims are that we will welcome new people who come to church with warmth and kindness, show care and concern for all parishioners – not just regular churchgoers and be lively, vibrant and forward looking, not being bound by the past, but still be respectful of tradition.