Blaker Family of Sussex - Reminiscences


Edburton Church.

EDBURTON Church is situated nearly a mile from the hamlet of Fulking, where the greater number of the congregation live. As regards architecture, it is, I am told, of rather a good order. When I first recollect it, there was a reading-desk, raised three or four feet from the ground, and above this the pulpit, over-shadowed by a large sounding board fixed in the wall. The Parish Clerk sat behind a desk, on the same level as the floor. The congregation sat in high pews, ranged on each side of the aisle, east of the pulpit, in which they could repose comfortably without fear of observation, while on the west side of the pulpit and on each side of the aisle was a row of free seats on which the rest of the con-gregation sat, the men on one side and the women on the other. The service was performed by the Parson and Clerk, each reading a verse alternately in the psalms, and the Clerk saying "Amen" at the end of prayers; the congregation, many of whom could not read, not joining in the responses. The hymns were sung by a choir, consisting of eight or ten men of the village, who sat in a pew with a desk in the centre, and were accompanied by a bass viol, flute and "all kinds of music." They took great pleasure in their performance, and frequently met at each other's houses for practice. The Edburton choir was rather noted in the neighbourhood, owing to there being in the parish two families—named Willett and Welling —fond of music, and possessing, I suppose, some musical talent. James Welling had an extremely good tenor voice and was repeatedly asked to join the choir at Chichester Cathedral, but he would not leave his native village. He was the grandfather of Miss Edith Welling, well known as a singer in Brighton. There was great emulation between the different neighbouring choirs. The choir of Ditchling was thought to be good, and they used to come to Edburton on one Sunday in the year to join the choir there in Church, and on another Sunday the Edburton choir paid a return visit to Ditchling. Of course on these Sundays there was no singing at all in the Church the choir had left, and this happened also occasionally at other times, if the leaders did not appear in their places. This state of things in time gave way to a harmonium and the school children.

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