St Edburg's Church - Bicester
St. Edburg’s Foundation celebrates it 10th Anniversay this year. It was established in 2011 to“promote and enhance the community’s awareness and understanding and use of the Parish Church and to strengthen the sense of its history and heritage in the local community”. The idea of the Foundation was spearheaded by Colin Duckworth, Damian Booth, then Head of St. Edburg’s Primary school, and John Scott, along with Mark and Vicky Smith and Caroline Carpenter, and in that first year year the group presented a “Showcase” evening bringing together, in the church, entertainment by local bands and dance groups, an exhibition from Bicester Art Club, the Sculpture Group, talks and tours on the history of the building and a demonstraion by the bell ringers. The evening was a great success and lead the way to many interesting and exciting events over the following ten years.
The Foundation has always been an enabling organisation, with a membership drawn from both community and church, willing to support and encourage the people of Bicester to see the potential of the space the church building has to offer. With this in mind the first Christmas Tree Festival took place in 2012, with local organisations being invitied to sponsor and decorate a tree which reflected their organisation or business. From small beginnings, and with much hard work this much loved Christmas event has grown into what it is today, with over eighty trees (before the lockdown year), live music, evening concerts, Carols in the Trees, café, family “hunt the trees” trails, and, most importantly, thousands of visitors, many of whom find the spectacle very moving. The Foundation handed over the running of the CTF to St. Edburg’s PCC in 2017.
Each year the Foundation is required to hold an AGM, and these have become popular because of the keynote speakers who have been invited along. These have included archaeologists, Dr. Christopher Young on memorials and monuments, Rev. Alice Goodhall whose talk highlighted the Shelswell History Festival, a display of the St. Edburg’s silver, the National Churches Trust, the Bicester Local History Society on “Bygone Bicester” and the St. Edburg’s Heritage Group on the “Nuturing, Serving and Educating Bicester” exhibition. Last year, on zoom, the talk was entitled “Under the Floorboards”.
Very popular events with the community have been the Living History days, when costumed historical re-enactments have taken place, some with live music. Other events have included a Photographic exhibition, a cycle ride to St. Eadburgha’s Church at Broadway in 2013, day visits to Cathedrals where tours have been part of the day. These have included Westminster Abbey, Coventry Cathedral, Gloucester, Winchester, Worcester, Salisbury and St. Albans.
The St. Edburg’s Heritage Group have worked alongside the Foundation to put on Heritage exhibitions, and eventually became part of the Foundation, working to bring the history and heritage of St. Edburg’s to the people of the town. They have put on exhibitons supported by local organisations, the Bicester Festival, Bicester Local History Society, St. Edburg’s Primary School, the National Heritage Days (Open Doors) and St. Edburg’s PCC . They have given talks, supported the St. Edburg’s Pilgimage days, run guided trails of the Priory site and guided tours of the church, and mounted an exhibition at the Shelswell History Festival. The group are grateful to the family of the late Gill King for their gift of her invaluable historical archive of St. Edburg and the church.
The Foundation continues to be a non-fund raising organisation. The annual subscriptions of members have helped fund events and exhibitions, and we have been blessed with generous donations from the community at events such as the Heritage days and the Christmas Tree Festivals. With these monies we have been able to donate to the church funds buying items for community use such as Chrismas tree stands and lighting for the Christmas Tree Festival, indoor flood lighting, a gazebo for outdoor events, storage cupboards and exhibition boards.
To celebrate the 10th Annivesary year, it is our intention to put on a series of short monthly evening talks, “The Story Behind……..”, on zoom, starting on 15th April 2021 at 7.30 p.m., when we shall also hold a brief AGM for 2021, bought forward from usual autumn time so as to keep us in line with the PCC accounting season. We hope members and non-members will be able to join us for these, and all our other forthcoming events planned for the next ten years! The Foundation Committee