November 2023

Have you seen the price of communion wine these days? No? Well let me tell you it is fast approaching £10 a bottle and I remember when…

Seriously, few church requisites cause as much discussion as the communion wine. In my early days the standard issue was Vino Sacro although when I was a curate in Shrewsbury we couldn’t afford it (or the vicar wouldn’t) and we used to buy VP Rich Red Ruby, a fortified British wine. Of course this was not actually British in origin as the word in such contexts means a wine imported and then bottled here. It sufficed. I was told that it was not infrequently cut with methylated spirit in some quarters although I was never tempted.

One Christmas whilst in Shropshire I received a case of wine for Christmas – the only time this has ever happened to me. It was vintage Vino Sacro. The vicar got one too. Both of us rapidly donated it to the sacristy cupboard. You can’t actually drink it! A lovely lady had gone to a great deal of trouble and expense with our presents that year and we duly expressed our fulsome gratitude. I suspect that she had gone to the wine merchant in town and asked what clergy drink and ‘Vino Sacro’ was the answer. Well no doubt some of us do.

On moving to Chester I found an attempt at sophistication. At Holy Trinity we acquired large boxes of a British wine which was marketed under the hopeful name of ‘Armadillo’. This gratuitous mis-spelling covered the appearance of the produce well enough, but not the taste. The only advantage of the paler colour was that the purificators were easier to get clean. And it was cheap.

What we used at Congleton I cannot now remember for certain, but I think it was probably something from the Hayes and Finch range comparable to Vino Sacro. At least it was the real thing. Ah, it’s coming back to me as I write: Sanctifex No. 3 red altar wine. This is one of the standards serving (or being served) in many a parish church. In the Staffordshire Moorlands I used to purchase the paler Sanctifex Amber which was altogether more agreeable and occasionally the Malbec or a dry alternative (if either was on offer). One of my churchwardens expressed his concern about the Malbec, wondering whether it was quite suitable. I probably replied, ‘yes, as long as you add the meths’ or something equally unhelpful. That particular parish liked better. When I arrived, the communion wine was supplied by Harvey’s who produce their own with a finish similar to a ruby port. Very good indeed, but not all of us can aspire to that!

We have had a variety of bottles here, but since ‘proper’ communion wine has risen in price to almost £10 per bottle I have been buying Moscatel de Valencia from a local supermarket at half the price. In my opinion it is far superior to the expensive stuff. My training incumbent would not have liked it though. He preferred to have a deep red wine that ‘looked like blood’. Along with many Anglo-Catholic clergy I have never subscribed to the ‘looks like blood’ requirement. It is for drinking not for looking at, but more profoundly once it has been consecrated it is the blood of our Lord. Enough said.

You may not have needed any of that information. All you need to know is the obligation placed upon churches with regard to communion wine. Canon B17 requires the fermented juice of the grape, good and wholesome. For this most holy rite nothing else will do. The regulations exclude Vimto and anything with additives (and should exclude the stuff I was given the other day which tasted like cough mixture), but anything ‘good and wholesome’ is just right.

Salvation’s giver, Christ, the only Son,
By His dear cross and blood the victory won.
Offered was He for greatest and for least,
Himself the victim, And Himself the priest.

From ‘Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord’, trans. J. M. Neale

Sunday 29th October, Trinity 21 / Bible Sunday

Wednesday 1st November, 10.00am Mass (All Saints’ Day)
Thursday 2nd November, 8.00pm Requiem Mass (All Souls’ Day)
Friday 3rd November, 7.00pm Mass
Saturday 4th November, 4.00pm North London Military Wives Choir Concert

Sunday 5th November, Trinity 22 / Fourth Sunday before Advent

Wednesday 8th November, 10.00am Mass
Friday 10th November, 7.00pm Mass (St. Leo the Great, Bishop)

Sunday 12th November, Trinity 23
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am

Wednesday 15th November, 10.00am Mass
Thursday 16th November, 11.00am Blessing of Marriage
Friday 17th November, 7.00pm Mass (St. Hugh of Lincoln, Bishop)

Sunday 19th November, Trinity 24 / Second Sunday before Advent
Preacher at 9.30am: Father Darren Smith SSC, General Secretary, Additional Curates Society

Wednesday 22nd November, 10.00am Mass
7.30pm Bushey Inter-faith Forum (details below)
Friday 24th November, 7.00pm Mass (St. Katharine of Alexandria)

Sunday 26th November, Trinity 25

Wednesday 29th November, 10.00am Mass (St. Andrew, Apostle, tr.)
Friday 1st December, 7.00pm no service
Saturday 2nd December, Christmas Feast

Sunday 3rd December, Advent 1

Places of Pilgrimage – Holy Sites for our Faiths

Wednesday 22nd November, 7.30pm at Sacred Heart Church, Bushey
Entrance free – refreshments will be served

As we head into November, our very popular Advent Preparation books are now available. Once again, it has been written by Joan Whyman and is called ” Where do we go from here?”.

“What a difficult, worrying, and strange year 2023 has been, not only for us here in Britain, but for the whole world. I hardly think I am alone in repeatedly asking the question, “Where do we go from here?” And it is with this question constantly in the forefront of my mind that I wish to approach the season of Advent 2023 and seek in Scripture, words of hope and wisdom.”  Joan Whyman

Copies cost £2.50 and can be ordered from Father Andrew by 8th November.

St. Peter’s Church, Saturday 4th November at 4.00pm.

Tickets can be purchased on the door for £10 (£8 concessions). The price includes a raffle ticket. There will be an interval during which tea, coffee and home-made cakes will be served.

The concert is scheduled to conclude at 6.00pm. Proceeds will be shared with St. Peter’s Church.

On Sunday 19th November at 9.30am the preacher will be Father Darren Smith who is the General Secretary of the Additional Curates Society which supports clergy in ‘poor and populous’ parishes and encourages vocations to the sacred priesthood. A number of us at St. Peter’s are supporters of ACS.

Saint Mary the Virgin, Kenton

Patronal Festival celebrations in honour of St. Leonard of Noblac (secondary patron of the parish)

Sunday 5th November, 5.00pm

Sung Mass and Confirmations

Principal Celebrant: the Bishop of Fulham

Followed by fireworks and a parish party

St. Martin’s, Bedford

Patronal Mass

Saturday 11th November, 12 noon

Principal Celebrant and Preacher: The Bishop of Richborough

Followed by refreshments

Thank you for your returned forms and for your generosity. If you have not returned your form there is still time!

Thank you very much for the exceptional celebration of the harvest. Particular thanks to all who helped with the floral decorations and the Harvest Lunch which was enjoyed by all who attended.


15th October                 Freya Rowe


29th September             Samuel Swerling (83 years)

13th October                 John Batten (80 years)

27th October                 Dudley Walters (aged 72 years)