The parish history display that went up in the church towards the end of our Jubilee Year continues to attract interest and compliments from parishioners and visitors alike. Organised by Amina Wright, and supported by contributions of knowledge and material from many people, it is a mas-terpiece of succinct, well-illustrated history-telling.
The retiring archivist Veronica Macmillan has looked after them devotedly, providing the parish with a excellent opportunity to preserve and share its documentary heritage.
The core of the archives is a collection of registers (baptisms, marriages…) that go back to the late 18th Century - long before the building of the present church. Then there are boxes and boxes of documents, photos etc. that have been partially catalogued. Nothing has been digitised, or cross-referenced against other archives such as those at Downside and in the county records office.
The archives are going to need dedicated space for storage and study. They need uses that will set priorities and justify investments of time and money. Above all they need parish engagement, expressed in offers of material and help. “Material” means anything from a scribbled or spoken reminiscence that fills a gap to a run of concert programmes or society minute-books.
To give examples of some gaps, on the spiritual side there are few records of great liturgical events or of sermons, retreats, debates and pilgrimages that made a big impression in their time. The proceedings of various bodies that met regularly and worked hard to raise awareness and get things done are another gap. Culturally, music has played a very important part in the life of the parish and the archives should recognise that fact.