800 Years of Community Spirit!
Henry Sheen, a GCSE student from Hampton Boys School, summed up the Teddington 800 celebrations with the following article, in pursuit of a ‘Young Journalist’ qualification:
The Church of St Mary’s and St Alban’s celebrated the finale of the Teddington 800 celebrations on Sunday 26th November. For the past six months, a group of volunteers from the church, chaired by Anne McTear, have organised numerous activities, working with a variety of organisations, involving approximately 300 people, to bring the community together, whether religious or not, to celebrate Teddington’s 800th anniversary of becoming a parish and to show just how special an area Teddington is to live in.
Each month different events were arranged in order to highlight a different aspect of Teddington’s history. Anne McTear described the Teddington 800 celebrations with the apt analogy of three prongs; the first being fellowship (having fun together and making new friends), followed by learning and finally, worship and thanking God for the area we live in. The events that were run each month represented these prongs.
Rather bizarrely, the team came across the 800th anniversary accidentally when looking to fill in grant application forms to build an extension to the Church. It was when looking through the church history archives the team discovered Teddington had been granted parish status in 1217, exactly 800 years ago, and decided to celebrate the anniversary.
Six months on, and the Teddington 800 celebrations have included floral festivals in June, sporting activities in July, fun and games for the children of Teddington in August, dance and art in September and poetry and science in October. Although the celebrations were led by the Church, they really were a representation of the diversity of the local area and this was borne out when Anne McTear said, ‘there has been this amazing give and take between the church and other organisations.’
The whole process culminated in a welcoming, and generous church service that embodied what the Teddington 800 celebrations were all about. Thanks was given to God for all the relationships that have been built during the process and the community was asked to live in the spirit of love thy neighbour. The Bishop of Kensington gave a particularly poignant sermon on how the unity of a community can help so many people, for example during the tragedy of Grenfell Tower.
So what now? The Church of St Mary’s and St Alban’s is already looking to the future. First and foremost the church is hoping to build the extension that initially unveiled Teddington’s hidden heritage. Anne McTear said that she certainly hopes to continue to strengthen relationships within the community that have been forged throughout the year. In fact, Anne (with the help of her future great grandchildren!) has already begun planning for Teddington 900! The church has created a time capsule that will be placed inside the church’s planned-for extension in anticipation of the Teddington 900 team opening it and looking for inspiration as to how to celebrate the next centenary. I wonder what they will make of the 800 celebrations!