The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


It was the hottest day of the year so far when 49 of us set off by coach from a St George’s Church with its tower shrouded in scaffolding. We left immediately after the Eucharist on Sunday June 27th, destination Westminster Abbey and a Thames cruise.

After a good journey we were welcomed by Canon Jane Hedges at the west entrance to the Abbey and led via Dean’s Yard and past the cloisters to the College Garden, a very tranquil area, to enjoy our picnic lunches unless they had already been consumed on the coach!

We then started a short tour of the Abbey looking in particular at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the west door, the last burial to take place in 1920, and memorials to Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton before dividing into two groups; Canon Jane took us into the magnificent Henry VII’s Chapel at the east end. Replacing the original Lady Chapel in the early 16th century it is now the Chapel for the Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath and the stalls bear their crests and their banners hang above. Light and airy with a lofty vaulted ceiling the chapel containing Henry’s tomb was constructed in large stone blocks, which are self supporting, over a period of just 16 years. The surrounding aisles contain small chapels and other notable tombs including Elizabeth I.

Father Mike then took us into Edward the Confessor’s Chapel which is used by the duty Abbey Chaplains and is not normally open to the general public. Located behind the High Altar the stone steps of the shrine itself are worn into hollows by the knees of countless pilgrims. Also many of the tombs and monuments on the exterior of the chapel have been plundered of their mosaics as high as a hand can reach by pilgrims for souvenirs. The Litany was said and we came out of the chapel through a doorway at the side of the high altar across the now exposed mosaic type floor - newly restored at great expense - and yet we were allowed to walk on it!

Full Choral Evensong began at, some of us seated in the south transept and others in the choir. Father Mike preached the sermon about the Holy Spirit speaking and working through our thoughts and ideas however ‘wacky’ those ideas may seem at times, and mentioned the town, parish and music festival. Canon Jane read the lessons and the singing was beautiful and uplifting and the organ music superb.

We admired the 150 foot high roof and more of the Abbey architecture as we gathered at the west door after the service for a crocodile march to Westminster Pier. It was of course the afternoon of England’s humiliating defeat by Germany 4-1 in the World Cup football competition and we caught up with the result on our walk. Comprehensive instructions had been issued on the coach of various ways and means to catch up with the other members of our party if anyone got lost or separated. In the event everyone reached Westminster Pier in  good time to board the ferry to Greenwich and a 45 minute cruise along the Thames on a perfect summer’s afternoon.

An excellent on board commentary pointed out the sights en route including the London Eye, Festival Hall, Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern, Globe Theatre, Monument, Tower of London (also sporting a good deal of scaffolding), various wharfs and high rise properties, Tower Bridge, Rotherhithe Tunnel ventilation shafts and so to Greenwich, the Naval College, Queen’s House and Observatory to name just a few!

Free time in Greenwich was spent in various ways - eating, drinking, walking, sitting in the park, sightseeing, exploring, reading information on the Cutty Sark restoration - before boarding the coach for a speedy journey around the M25 and home.

Thanks are due to everyone involved in arranging such a full and enjoyable day out.

Linda Wainwright

Autumn Edition 2010

Annual Parish Outing