St Nicholas, Sutton (Anglican)

History

The present church, designed by Edwin Nash, was consecrated in 1864. It replaced a much earlier church that had stood since before 1087 and which had to be expanded due to a growing local population. During the Blitz, a bomb fell in the churchyard and blew out all the windows on the northern side of the church, which were replaced with plain glass.

Appearance

The church is surrounded by a large wooded graveyard, and has a tall tower that peaks out from the top of the trees that otherwise shield it somewhat from view.

At the back of the church is a large stone font from the original pre-1864 church, inscribed with Ephesians 4:5 – “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”. Nearby, on the walls, are black boards with gold lettering which record charitable gifts to the church in the 18th and 19th centuries, some of which still provide a small amount for the needy of the parish.

The altar at the front is behind a relatively simple rood screen, with a few crosses and crucifixes dotted around. Most of the windows are stained glass – many of these are in memory of former parishioners, as are several monuments and plaques found on the walls.

To the right of the altar is a small prayer chapel, more ornate than the rest of the church. It contains a small statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus, a Greek icon of St Nicholas, some banners and several candles.

Clergy

The service was taken by a woman vicar, dressed in a white cassock with a green stole. At the beginning and end of the service, a man in a plain white hooded cassock stood behind her holding a pole with a cross on top.

Congregation

The congregation numbered roughly 45 people. The majority were in their fifties or older, and over half (perhaps about two-thirds) were female, with only three or four people of ethnic minority. Several of the congregation spoke to me before the service, asking if I was visiting and welcoming me to the church.

Service

The service began with prayers and a hymn, after which there was a reading from Jeremiah 18:1-6, in which a potter and his clay is used as a metaphor for God and His people, after which there were prayers of confession. This was the only reading in the service – unlike others I have been to, there was no New Testament reading.

After this, tying in with the theme of clay, the congregation were invited to take a piece of modelling clay from a plate which was handed around the pews and to form a model of something they wished to pray about. More prayers and a hymn followed, after which wet-wipes were handed around for those who had touched the clay before the congregation shook hands during a sharing of the peace.

Communion followed another hymn, after which notices about the church and parish were read out by the vicar. After a final hymn, a blessing was given and the service, which had lasted roughly an hour and ten minutes, ended.

Afterwards

Teas, coffees, and orange squash was served at the back of the church after the service together with some biscuits. The vicar mingled with the congregation, talking with several of them as they had refreshments.

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