175 years remembered

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Image: 1992 Tillotsons with Michael Chester
Image: 1992 Tillotson wedding congregation

This year we planned to celebrate 175 years of Methodism in Wantage. We had planned various events, including an exhibition at the Museum. Instead I will post some memories on our church web-site from the past 175 years. Some memories have been taken from the booklet which Keith Robbins edited for the 150th Anniversary, with some added text and some photos. If you have any photos or memories you would like to be posted on the web-site, please get in touch with me, June Grunwald.

The first article is about an event in 1992.

A very special event happened for Linda and Rodney Tillotson in Spring 1992. "Many of you will remember being turned out of the Church at the end of 1991 so the redevelopment work could start, but that we were expecting to return during the middle of February 1992. Rodney and I were engaged on Valentine's Day 1992, and were originally thinking of an Easter wedding. April 18th or 25th seemed possible for us, but other things were booked in the Church. Trying to book the hall was a problem too. The first date we could book everything was May 30th. On the Good Friday Walk, April 17th, we thought May 30th should be no problem for us using the Church, but others thought it showed a lot of faith. We were not particularly worried. Easter came and went, and the Church was still like a building site.

At the beginning of May we were getting a little concerned. Michael made provisional arrangements for us to use St Mary's chapel, so even he was getting worried. Michael Chester was the Minister at the time and can be seen in one of the photos. On May 10th we decided we would look inside the Church. Our hearts sank. It was a tip. The builders had just discovered the roof needed to come off again and he raised to get the organ pipes back in place. It was really looking impossible for us to have our wedding in the Church. During the service that day we could have cried as Michael announced that they were determined to be back in Church for May 24th and the builders had been told they were to be out of the building by the 12th.

There were rotas all ready to be signed. In four days, the Church was cleaned literally from top to bottom by many volunteers. That was the way it had to be to get the carpet laid. It was done by Sunday 17th, so the Church carpet fitter could go on holiday. By the end of the next week the Godfreys felt they could go on holiday — a well-deserved one after this mammoth task. On Wesley Day, May 24th with six days to go, we were back in Church for the first service, on chairs the pews were stored in Joyce Sharpe's barn and without an organ, as it had brick in the pipes. We could not go without music at our wedding, so John Matthews offered his portable keyboard which Robin Walker played, we changed our music and well ...... We had a marvellous day, but who else could have timed everything so finely to fit together as they did?" In the photo you may be able to make out Sue and Andrew Lockley in the second row; Tony Walker (bearded) and Heather Walker; near the window Audrey and Arthur Cook.

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