As part of the Romsey Festival 2017, St Denys church has been full over the last couple of days with visitors enjoying a local history exhibition looking back to what the estate village of Chilworth was like in the 1880’s. Events like this help the village to connect with its parish church. The team had the opportunity to meet people and and talk about ordinary things and spiritual matters.
Miriam Phillips who curated the exhibition spoke about the things that keep Chilworth a living English village: a pub, a post office and a church. ‘We’ve lost the post office, the pub is now quite grand, but the church still welcomes everyone’. The group of churches St Denys belongs to are wholly committed to continuing to show the grace, mercy and love of God in Chilworth. If you need help, want to know about following Jesus, or pastoral support don’t hesitate to contact us.
The exhibition was centred around an exquisitely detailed Estate Map from the Willis Fleming Archive. This estate map predated the first OS map of the area by at least ten years and was made for the management of the area by the estate office. Comparing the estate map with later series of OS maps, including the first ever made, showed how fast the village has changed. We grateful to the Hampshire Archive team for retrieving and expertly photographing the first series OS map of the area.
Is it worth it?
For an active parish church to spend effort on a community focused exhibition like this is a hard decision. As is so often the case in small parish churches, much of the work for this exhibition was done by one volunteer. That makes it painfully obvious what effort the church is ‘spending’ on events like this. In this case there were two key positive factors without which it might not have been a good idea:
- This exhibition supported the Romsey Festival 2017, Miriam commented ‘We were asked to make a contribution. I don’t think we would have thought about it otherwise’. Being part of this larger flourishing of cultural events in the area adds to the effect of this contribution and probably made it more worthwhile.
- Although St Denys has a very small regular congregation it has cultivated good links into its surrounding community and regularly sends information to an email list. This together with the wider church grouping’s PR efforts has helped to raise footfall.