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St Matthew's Bicentenary 2019

The main focus of the St Matthew's Bicentenary celebrations was the last week of June. You'll find photos of events that took place before and afterwards on the Diary 2019 pages. Most of these photos are by Nigel Tissington, others are by Peter Barham. 

Saturday 22 June started with morning coffee and refreshments, artefacts in church, and guided tours. The graves of the Evans family were marked, as were the burial places of previous Vicars. (Peter wondered if a spot was marked for him). 


The rugby club came and did a BBQ - excellent burgers.

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After lunch the children of Hilary L’Raine’s dance school gave a demonstration, then Derby Shakespeare Company present Six Shakespearean Weddings in Half and Hour, and the Marlowe Theatre Company did an open rehearsal of their next play, Trivial Pursuit.

After lunch the children of Hilary L’Raine’s dance school gave a demonstration, then Derby Shakespeare Company present Six Shakespearean Weddings in Half and Hour, and the Marlowe Theatre Company did an open rehearsal of their next play, Trivial Pursuits.

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In the evening we had a packed church for a concert with the Darley Abbey choir (children from Walter Evans and Old Vicarage Schools, conducted by Anne de Waal) and the choir of St Matthew's. It was a wonderful evening. 

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The concert included an anthem specially commissioned from Jacqueline Burley, with the words by David Mowbray, Vicar here from 1991-2003. They are photographed here with John Gratton, Director of Music. 


God, creator and redeemer

journeying with your people still!

Near to Darley’s Derwent river

stands the church upon a hill.  

Joyful now we see St Matthew’s

built two centuries ago,

shining beacon,

sacred landmark travellers know.

God, creator and redeemer,  

praise be for this holy place.

When we come our prayers to offer

to receive your gifts, your gifts of grace.

Let our music’s celebration,

everything we do and say,

kindle determination to pass on what’s ours today.  

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For the morning service of Choral Communion on Sunday 23 June we were joined by the Bishop of Repton, the Mayor of Derby (Cllr Frank Hawood) and some friends from St Edmund's. Martin Wilson and Chris Dyer, previous Vicars, both robed and took part. David Mowbray was in the congregation - we sang his St Matthew hymn, and the choir sang his anthem again. The Order of Service is attached.  We had the best silver out - including some that would have been used by Walter Evans. Bishop Jan was kind enough to email afterwards to say it had been a joy to be with us. She commented "St Matthew’s struck me as a warm and welcoming church family with a very high standard of worship." She encouraged us "to keep flinging wide those doors and to be bold in inviting others to come and see ..."

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Afterwards there was cake and bubbly. Quite a few people had bought a picnic lunch. 

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A few people went on a Live Well Walk led by Janet. Others ate cake.  There were guided tours and an opportunity to look at the displays. Then we enjoyed a String Quartet, followed by berries and bubbly. Then the choirs of St Matthew's, St Edmund's, and some friends from St John's, sang Choral Evensong. Clive had his best academic hood, Peter the churchwarden his Evensong suit, and David the churchwarden came off the sports' field. John Gratton directed and Geoff Howell played the organ. The Order of Service is attached, as is Peter's sermon (which tells some of the story of the consecration of the church).

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Monday 24 June was the actual anniversary of the opening - on Walter Evans’ 55th birthday. All the youngsters from Walter Evans School came in, and Peter did a quick talk through history and faith with each class. Then they had a picnic in the churchyard. The Nursery children sang “Happy Birthday St Matthew’s” and “Happy Birthday Walter Evans”. Church was open every afternoon that week, and there was a steady flow of visitors.


On Saturday 29 June Church was open from 10 for more visitors. In the afternoon the focus moved down to the Village Hall where Darley Abbey Historical Group had organised a history exhibition, and the Women's Institute did a Victorian Tea Room. A lot of fascinating conversations took place, tea was drunk, and cake was eaten. 

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Sunday 30 June was a fifth Sunday when we have a United service at 10 am - obviously at St Matthew's this time. The 8 am service was at St Edmund's, then a cooked breakfast was served at St Matthew's. Even at that early hour, the kitchen staff looked happy! There were over 100 people in church and it was a good time of worship together. The children had fun too. Coffee was served afterwards, and you could buy a Bicentenary picture or mug. It was good to have Jill Caldwell with us, she was Associate Priest here for several years. 

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Sunday afternoon saw St Matthew's open for more tours, exploration, conversations, and cake. In the Butterfly Garden of Darley Park we had a storyteller, Debjani Chatterjee, and a dancer, Charu Asthana, who told us a wonderful tale of love and friendship among the children of the original community. It was beautiful. Our thanks to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Great Places Scheme who paid for it. 

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We finished the weekend with a Hot House Jazz Concert in St Matthew's, in aid of Cancer Research. The church was packed, the music vibrant, and the young people absolutely stunning. What a marvellous way to end our celebrations!

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Here are various other documents relating to the Bicentenary. 


We started our planning in 2018. Jason Kennedy, the Diocesan Missioner, came and preached on Advent Sunday, 2 December, and then led a session to help us plan. His paperwork is attached.

John Bishop researched the history of the church to produce a Bicentenary Book (left) and a timeline (right) which was displayed in church. Peter used them as a basis for a powerpoint for school assemblies. 

Lesley Futter produced a church booklet and an activitiy trail for children. Both of these are attached here.

Liz Maher, one of the students on the MA in Public History and Heritage course at Derby University, came and worked with us. She helped to produce this History leaflet for St Matthew's (and also for St Edmund's), and the History web pages. 

We produced several versions of a leaflet which went to every house in the community. Our thanks to the Scouts for their help in distributing these.

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