A good deal of (pleasurable) work goes into the preparation of our Annual Meeting: we want to make sure that not only will the required formal and business matters be dealt with in a transparently efficient and proper way, but that all who attend it will have a thoroughly enjoyable time visiting the host church (in 2018 St Andrew’s, Chinnor; wonderful 1327 rood screen, cartoons for the Westminster Abbey Rose window, a number of precious mediaeval tombs – including, according to Pevsner ‘a headless woman with fragment of husband 1430’ – and nearby churches: Chinnor Methodist, a wonderful example of the sort of reordering possible in an untouched-by-Victorians chapel and use of a highly successful, adventurous colour scheme; and St Margaret’s, Lewknor, with most beautifully-coloured Morris windows, Jacobean tombs – William Deane 1621 and Thomas Fleetwood 1629 – and a Jodrell family chapel) all with expert guides, followed by tea and Evensong back at the host church. If possible, the sun shines, even if intermittently. All this happened on July 28th this year – those not there missed a real treat. Thank you, Professor Malcolm Airs, for organising all this!
In fact, St Margaret’s, Lewknor was particularly fascinating for us because they have big plans ahead: despite Lewknor being a thriving village in every way, to be able to stay open in the future adaptations to the church have got to be made, ready for more use by the community, especially the (thatched) school next door, which already uses the nave for school lunches. The floor will have to be levelled, pews removed, disabled and other loos installed, and an Education Centre (to tell the story of the church at every stage of its life) included. Lewknor has already had 4 grants from OHCT, and we will be there for them again.
At the Annual Meeting, presided over by our President, Bishop Colin with the assistance of our Hon Sec, Jonathan Scheele, and with reports from our Chair, Stephen Goss, our Treasurer, Giles Dessain, and our Vice-Chair and Ride and Stride Organiser, Hilary Cakebread Hall, we heard the salutary news that the Derbyshire HCT has had to close down due to lack of income, and that others are teetering in that direction. OHCT is in very good heart and pocket in comparison, but new sources of finance have to continue to be sought as a matter of urgency, especially with the demise of the Heritage Lottery Schemes. We must constantly come up with new ideas and are already implementing Tony Baldry’s suggestion of a symposium (at Dorchester Abbey) in 2019 to discuss alternative sources of funding. The Taylor Review (chaired by our own Bernard Taylor, appointed after his terrifically successful work for OHCT) had led the way. Of course, our 2018 Ride and Stride needs ALL our efforts!