ROSEMARY AND LANGRISH CHURCH
Whatever Rosemary took on she did wholeheartedly and this church was no exception. For much of her time in Langrish the church was very ably run by Charles and Jane Sprinks but, when they retired, Nigel Talbot-Ponsonby found himself as the sole warden for a year until he prevailed upon Rosemary to join him. She was slightly reluctant at first because she was so involved in all other aspects of village life but, once persuaded, she set about becoming the consummate church warden and it quickly became difficult to see how we ever managed without her: even more so when Nigel retired and she herself became the sole warden.
That she became pivotal in the management of church business was far from her only contribution, however. It was largely due to her generosity that we were able to make the changes to the church’s interior layout that you can now see has benefitted us so much. The removal of two rows of pews at the back to create social mingling space, the formation of a chapel in the north nave aisle and the recent redecoration of the interior was made possible by her donations not to mention our ability to fund 5 years’ worth of an expensive maintenance programme. That the church fabric is in very good shape is largely thanks to her.
She also applied her enquiring mind and scholarship to enrich our knowledge of those whose names appear on the First World War Memorial Roll of Honour. Unusually the Langrish war memorial is inside the church rather than on a village green somewhere. To mark the remembrance of the First World War and celebrations for the 100th anniversary of its ending, Rosemary produced a booklet having researched each man on the Roll, telling their stories and setting them in their proper context with descriptions of the campaign or battle with which each was associated. This was a true labour of love.
There was yet more to it though; by which I mean more to her commitment to Langrish church. After John died she looked to this church to contain some lasting memorial to the husband she had so revered and loved and she provided us with a handsome pascal candle stand and the aumbry with its sanctuary lamp – the eternal flame becoming a lasting memorial – and she tended to these with love and care.
So, by the time she died, Rosemary had become fully committed to the continuing existence of Langrish Church and one can’t help but feel that to keep this delightful church going, to keep the flame alive, would be the best possible memorial to her.
It won’t be easy. Evelyn Hickox the Langrish chronicler and historian wrote in 1986, “We know that despite our efforts, we may probably lose the church building within the next ten years”. Well, 34 years on we are still going, but we have now lost our church warden and there are a very small and dwindling number of us involved in church management. Without more people in the Langrish and Ramsdean community becoming involved I fear Evelyn Hickox’s prediction will come to pass, but let’s hope more do volunteer to help, so this building can continue to thrive, to the glory of God of course, but also, as Evelyn put it; ‘ to help maintain our happy, self-sufficient and friendly village spirit’.
For Rosemary, who did so much to foster that village spirit, there could be no more fitting memorial but that this church is still open in another 34 years’ time!