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- Concert at Lindridge Parish Church – Saturday 18th November 2023 4 November, 2023
- MP Welcomes Storm Babet Emergency Flood Fund 30 October, 2023
- Tuesday Tots and Tea 21 September, 2022
- Following in the footsteps of the Worcester Pilgrim, by Bishop John 12 July, 2022
- The last of the Four Rivers by Rev Ted 5 June, 2022
WEST WORCESTERSHIRE MP Harriett Baldwin has welcomed confirmation that an emergency fund will come into operation to help homes and businesses affected by flooding.
Storm Babet has caused major flooding across the country and the rivers Teme and Severn both caused flood damage to properties.
Local district councils will manage the process of awarding grants to help people with emergency costs, council tax relief and extra money to help protect against future flood events.
The Flood Recovery Framework was last put into place in 2020 and Harriett has been briefed on activities which have taken place over recent days to identify affected homes and businesses which may be able to access this support.
Harriett said: “Storm Babet has affected lots of UK communities and West Worcestershire was also taken by surprise by the heavy rain.
“I am in close contact with the communities affected by flooding and this new funding will ensure that the small number of homes and businesses that were flooded will receive compensation.
“I am planning to gather together all the major players who managed this incident to make sure lessons are learned, focussing on flood information and response from the relevant agencies.
“The Severn, Avon and Teme valleys will always flood but we can continue to improve resilience and complete the two planned schemes in Tenbury Wells and Severn Stoke.”
In 1987 the remains of a 15th Century pilgrim were discovered at the base of the tower of Worcester Cathedral. We know he was a pilgrim because he was buried with a staff and a cockleshell. The cockleshell was carried by medieval pilgrims (of which there were thousands) to Santiago in Spain, to the site where tradition has it that Jesus’s disciple St James is buried.
My wife, H-J, and I decided to follow in the Worcester Pilgrim’s footsteps but use bicycles. We have just returned from cycling over 1000km on the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago from the Pyrenees. That route is known as ‘the Camino’, ‘the way’. Whilst on it we passed thousands of modern-day pilgrims from all over Europe and beyond. Since we were cycling, we generally went a bit faster than the walkers. Every time we passed someone, we greeted each other: ‘Buen Camino’. There’s no adequate English translation of that salutation but it’s a wonderful one. I suppose ‘go well’ is probably the nearest.
Jesus is described as being ‘on the way’ a lot in the New Testament and Jesus himself is described as the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Greek word for ‘Way’ is first used to describe the Christian faith in the Acts of the Apostles. That, we can infer, is how early Christians described their faith. That’s how Paul referred to himself in his trial before Felix: ‘I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way.’
We’re all on a journey. Pilgrimage is a good way of understanding our lives: it gives them meaning and purpose. In this diocese we are on a journey together, being transformed as we seek to fulfil our Kingdom People Vision, living out values of love, compassion, justice and freedom. As we do so, we hope to become a healing presence in our communities.
Another greeting of medieval pilgrims on the way to Santiago was ‘Ultreia’, a Latin word meaning ‘beyond’. Those of us who choose to travel with Jesus ‘on the way’ believe we are on a journey beyond the here and now, beyond this life. I wish you a buen camino on that journey.
Rt Revd Dr John Inge
The Bishop of Worcester
Of the Four Rivers (River Teme, River Rea, Shrawley Brook, Dick Brook) it is this last-named one, Dick Brook, that seems to arouse the most emotions. A number of people emailed, phoned or spoke personally to me after being upset at my description that where it joined the River Severn it looked more like a muddy trickle that a flowing river. It is interesting what issues excite people? But may I challenge those people not to contact me, but to write into this magazine with those many childhood stories and fond memories of Dick Brook,and/or complaints about what Rev Ted wrote: I am sure people would enjoy reading the articles.
Dick Brook, as a named river, starts at ‘Joan’s Hole’ in Abberley valley (where there is a Damson Orchard), west of Dunley, and where two unnamed streams converge – one draining the slopes of Clows Top. Dick Brook then flows for almost 5 miles; passing under the road at Dunley (where it sometimes floods), through Astley (where it was dammed to power Priors Mill), past Glasshampton monastery, under a packhorse bridge and along the edge of the old Shrawley Parish, before entering the River Severn beyond the lovely Shrawley Bluebell Woods.
But I still contest (writes he teasingly) that Dick Brook is much less than it used to be due to silting up: for in the early eighteenth century Dick Brook featured flash locks (you can still make out some remaining stonework) and was used to transport iron ore from the River Severn to the iron forge at Astley. It is not clear who was responsible for the navigation: Andrew Yarrington of Astley proposed it in 1651 then died a violent death in 1681, yet the flash locks are dated 1717. Perhaps someone will write in with the correct history? Either way, you could not float any barges up there now: not a chance! Speaking of which, nobody knows what kind of barges the Yarringtons used to negotiate the tight bends. Best guess is that he used square tubs chained together. Andrew Yarrington was ahead of his time and his projects weren’t always greatly successful. But hats off to imagination and endeavour. And so Dick Brook is the river that calls us to creative and imaginative endeavour; it is the stream that reminds us that we are made in the image of the personal, self-motivated, creative God and, at our best, we strive to improve the lot of one another and make the world a better place. Right now that is so desperately needed. Examples perhaps? … How about those who have offered to shelter Ukranian refugees, those who check on neighbours, do shopping for others, give money to Church and Charities, give to food banks, create and run businesses, farm and produce food. Hats off to good, honest, human endeavour and the God who animates life. (Umm: Do people wear hats these days to take off?).
Oh, and by the way, the website geograph.co.uk describes Dick Brook as “a rather unimpressive brook.” Now come on, good folk, get those objections and stories into the magazine!
Yours, Rev Ted
Continuing the series on 4Rivers Churches…
A personal casual survey suggests that of the four rivers, the least well-known is the River Rea. For a start people seem unsure as to pronunciation: is it the River ‘Ree’, or ‘Ray’ or even ‘Ree-ah’? “Never heard of it,” said a resident of Newnham Bridge, which is exactly where the River Rea joins the River Teme. Indeed, Newnham Bridge derives its name from the river!!!! How is that? Answer: the River Rea used to be called The River Neen (or Nene). Given that ‘ham’ means settlement, Neenham Bridge, or Newnham Bridge, is the settlement around the bridge over the river Neen.
Curiously, there is another River Rea where the Beorma’s Saxon tribe founded their settlement that became Birm-ing-ham (Beorma’s people’s place), and that River Rea flows into the River Tame. That river is definitely pronounced ‘Ray’. Rea is a very ancient word that means ‘to flow’ or ‘to run’. And the River Rae certainly flows
wildly in wet weather – its volatility contributes, in turn, to the volatility of the Teme and the Teme flooding further downstream, as mentioned in a previous article.
Our River Rae (formerly Neen) originates in Shropshire as Rae Brook, and flows through several places that reveal its older name: Neen Sollars, Neenton, Neen Savage. Between Ceobury Mortimer and Neen Sollars it defines the Shropshire / Worces- tershire border.
At one point it flows under the Elan Aqueduct.
The River Rea is the only river of the our four that starts outside our area, but ends ‘within us’. For us it represents those things that originate elsewhere, but impact on us, shape us, become part of us.
An obvious example is how world economics affects our local cost of living. But not everything is so obvious. Like the River Rae itself, some things ‘sneak’ into us without great awareness on our part: examples might be our preju- dices, unacknowledged racism, xenophobia, intolerance? Social Media can shape the thinking of our children in particular. On the other hand, many good qualities may have shaped us too, the very opposite of that list, and we have access to information and education unimagined a few years’ ago. The blessing and danger remains that we are
both enriched and diminished by attitudes and ideas that have taken root in us without being intelligently interrogated. These are reasons why Christians spend time in reflection and prayer in order to hold a mirror to the self. Outside help also comes to our scattered rural communities in the form of financial subsidies to our churches by the wider Diocese of Worcester.
A final quickie question: as we approach the Jubilee of Her Majesty, to what extent does her Christian faith and strong sense of duty inspire us to better things?
Continuing the series on 4Rivers Churches…
The horror show that is the war in Ukraine has chewed up European shape and sensibilities, and I cannot help but feel uncomfortable about continuing the series about the four rivers, but there is a connection and relevance, so please read on.
Yes, the four rivers (actually two rivers and two brooks) are The River Teme, The River Rea, Dick Brook, and Shrawley Brook. They can help us think about who we are and our relationship with God and the world around because of where they start and end. I will expand these ideas in future articles, but for now the briefest sketch will do.
The River Rea originates in Shropshire and ends merging into the Teme at Newnham Bridge. In other words it starts outside of us, and ends within us – representing those things that shape us from elsewhere and become part of who we are.
Shrawley Brook originates from various trivial tributaries somewhere in the Witleys and flows to the Severn representing those things from us, that arise here, and go from here out into the world. Right now – that might include donations local people are sending to refugee aid for example.
Dick Brook – now a mere muddy trickle compared to its former self should be famous for being an early attempt at industrial river navigation in 1653 courtesy of a certain Andrew Yarrington, who was in many ways ahead of his time. We may say, the river represents those things that arise out of our own human effort.
And then there is the River Teme, which rises in Wales and passes through us on its way to the Severn at Worcester. It represents those things from elsewhere, that we interact with for while, then they pass on to other places, but they are not us. As a river the Teme is surprisingly volatile despite its placid appearance most of the time. In extended dry periods, it is known to dry up and stop flowing altogether, and in severe weather it can become a ranging torrent powerful enough to take life. In such ways, the river represents how we are not, or should not be, isolated from the world. The wider world is part of us, and we are part of it.
Lindridge school embraces this idea in one of its values called, “Horizons.” We enjoy a lot of beauty in our area, but we are not to be escapists. We are all children of God, heirs of his kingdom, citizens of the planet, ‘actors on the stage’, and are called to do what we can to make the world a better place, even where issues start and end elsewhere. Love may begin at home, but it should not end there. Give generously, lobby the government, open homes to receive, watch out for others, pray without ceasing, encourage each other to act where we can and how we can.
That’s it for now, Rev Ted.
It was all something of a guided accident really – the origins of the name ‘4Rivers Churches’ and this month’s journey involves the naming process.
I recall vividly and fondly arriving at the Rectory in Great Witley on the night before moving in. I arrived late on a late August night, and as I parked in the drive the SatNav said, “You have arrived at home.” Nice! It was very cold, the sky was clear and though all around was dark, the stars shone brilliantly – the great blessing of living in a ‘dark village’. I had no furniture, of course, I had some basics – a fold-out chair to doze in and some refreshments and toiletries. I stood outside and watched the Perseids meteor shower until I realised I was cold. I worked on preparing the garage floor until I was too tired and even more cold. Then I dozed in the chair wrapped in a duvet until the morning.
A few days after arrival, I was to be licensed as priest in charge of the two benefices of Astley & Abberley, Shrawley & Witley, and also Teme Valley North. The odd bit was that the parish of Astley was under the care of the priest at Areley Kings. So – I was priest in charge but with no duties there. However, ‘Priest-in-Charge of Abberley, Shrawley & Witley, and Teme Valley North’ is too wordier a title. Not everyone agreed with the name anyway – some preferred “Shrawley & The Witleys (Great & Little)” Whilst others wondered why not just use the names of the Church buildings – ‘Priest in Charge of Knighton-on-Teme, Lindridge, Stockton-on-Teme, Abberley St Mary, Abberley St Michael, Great Witley, Little Witley, and last but my no means least, Shrawley.’ That lot is even longer. (I feel I should point out here that a priest is appointed to the parishes – not the buildings). At the time of my appointment, one rubric said – there is an idea to join all the churches up together: to be one benefice called “From Teme to Severn” – which I really didn’t like, because the River Severn only flows out on the eastern edge.
I had thought of calling us ‘Abberley Area Churches” until I was corrected in no uncertain terms by events in history I won’t go into here.
I don’t actually know who first suggested the idea of ‘Rivers Churches’ or that indeed it would end up at 4Rivers Churches. But there were weeks of research about rivers and hills, roads and historical names. Finally, the strategy team settled on 4Rivers Churches – and it felt right at the time. Priest in Charge of 4Rivers Churches is much easier to work with. And very importantly for us, it somehow includes all the communities within our boundaries that don’t have a church building: such as Menithwood (or Menith Wood if you prefer), Newnham Bridge, Hillhampton, Frith Common, Sankyns Green – to name some of them.
And the symbol of the clock tower became the Christian Cross with the hills either side becoming waves of refreshing blue streams. The ‘4Rivers Churches’ name had arrived.
And yes, I promised to name the four rivers (or two rivers and two brooks) that were chosen. Here they are in no particular order:
- The River Teme
- The River Rea
- Shrawley Brook
- Dick Brook.
The four rivers are very different to each other, and ‘speak’ different things to us.
Next month, we will begin our reflections properly by thinking about what we can learn from Dick Brook.
Some time ago the idea was muted that I would write a series of articles about the name, ‘4Rivers Churches’ and about the four actual rivers that the title refers to. In doing so, we could then reflect about our geography, identity, our environment and God. The ‘lightness’ of this article suddenly acquires a bit of gravitas.
Where does the name ‘4Rivers Churches’ come from and what is it for?
As this is a bit of fun, and a teaser, let us start by saying what it isn’t.
“4Rivers Churches” doesn’t exist in law. There is no official grouping of Churches called “4Rivers”, at least not in our neighbourhood. The title is informal.
It is not the Rivers Academy Trust. “The Rivers CofE Academy Trust” (to use the official full title) is a multi academy (mainly primary) school trust whose head office is in Droitwich.
It is not the schools, though there are three church schools in the ‘4Rivers Churches’ area,
Lindridge St Lawrence CE Primary, Abberley Parochial VC Primary, and Great Witley CE Primary. The latter, Great Witley CE Primary School, however, belongs to the Rivers Academy Trust.
4Rivers Churches is not the Church Buildings. ‘Church’ means ‘God’s Gathered People’ The Church Buildings are traditionally, where ‘The Church’ gathers for worship.
If I try to say where the name ‘4Rivers Churches’ actually comes from, it would give away which rivers they are. For now, after this introductory ‘meandering’ flowing teaser, here is the key question…
What are the four rivers in mind? Here’s a hint: actually it is two rivers, and two brooks.
By the way – you’ll have to wait until next month to know which the four rivers are. That’s the teaser bit. See you next month for the answer!
Stay Safe, Rev Ted.
The children of Lindridge Primary School enjoyed a surprise visitor on the last afternoon of the term, when Father Christmas arrived on the school playground in his red tractor.
They were absolutely thrilled.
The children of Lindridge have been amazing and Santa assures us that they are all on the good list. It must have been all that handwashing having completed the Autumn Term with very little absence.
Swallows have been nesting in the porch at Lindridge Church. They are now using the well-placed notice board as their resting place before fledging – here’s hoping the notices will still be readable when they leave! It is really good to see them as the first brood were taken by a sparrowhawk, or similar.
Our church buildings might not be full of people just yet, but the wildlife is happy!