Mrs Doreen Reade taught the girls class (for 25 years!). I liked the soft way she spoke and was fascinated with her pretty pink lipstick. I thought I’d like to wear pink lipstick when I’m grown up. She always related personal situations where God had answered her prayers and encouraged us to trust and do likewise. Once a month we had to learn and recite a scripture. I didn’t look forward to that very much but it was a good thing to do. Occasionally we had ‘Object Sunday’. Mr Eric Sealey was always very lively and funny and brought various objects to portray his message. Another treat would be when Mr Mottram or ‘Mottie’ would come and sing songs while playing a squeezebox. Then he would entertain us with his puppet Joey sat on his knee.
As we got older we could go to Sunday afternoon groups called Jucos and Covenanters. Jucos (short for Junior Covenanters) was run by Mrs Chapman in Claremont and Covenanters in Alyn House with Mrs Mary Charters and Mrs Rita Bunce. I enjoyed them too.
As well as an annual church seaside trip (e.g. to Swanage or Weymouth) we also had a summer picnic trip. We were given big greaseproof paper bags with, among other things, giant meat sandwiches, chocolate cornflake cakes and crisps. We had sweet ‘scrambles’ too, sweets were thrown and we all had to get them.
The Christmas party was an annual event to look forward to. We all had a present from the tree and a scripture card. One year I remember seeing a lovely doll on the tree in a woolly green dress and hat. I so wanted that doll and was really shocked when it was taken off the tree and my name was called out to collect it!
I will always have fond memories of my childhood Sundays in Ashbury, visiting my grandparents who also attended the Mission Hall, along with my parents. I was married by Philip Charters, in the church, to my husband Des on July l6th 1977.
Anthea Fillingham (nee Bergin):
Two simple Gospel sermons preached by Ian Dobbie at evening services in January 1960 were the final links in the chain that led to my surrendering my life to the Lord Jesus. I had partly resisted as I was afraid of being asked to speak publicly about my faith, but, having grown up in a Christian home, it became clear to me that the Lord would not ask me to do something, without giving me the strength to do it. I was delighted when three months after my conversion I was asked to speak at the small woman’s meeting. It was an opportunity to prove that the Lord would be faithful. Sure enough, despite being somewhat nervous, I was enabled to share the difference the Lord had made in my life. I was thrilled to be able to talk about the peace, purpose, and power He had brought into my life. Having been such a shy person, lacking in self-confidence, it was very faith-building to stand at the podium aged just fifteen, and not have any moments of my mind going blank from fear!
Later, I had the joy of helping in the Sunday school with a small group of two-year-olds. I had always wanted to teach, and had a conviction that even at a very young age, children could understand far more than they were given credit for. Amongst my two-year-olds were Philip Bunce and Stephen-John Charters. Philip, a particularly active toddler, would be under the table between the chair legs, or even on top of the table, while I told them a Bible story! However, il was so encouraging to be told by his mother that he could always tel her what his Bible story had been in Sunday school that day!
Nicola Payne (nee Bergin) writes:
I enjoyed our years in Ashbury, and remember with great affection the Misses Bunce of Ivy Cottage and their wonderful sense of humour. I particularly have a vision of Rene Bunce playing the orgai and grinning at us all as she jumped around the stool as she played the hymns! What lovely ladies they were. I also remember learning the books of the Bible at a Sunday school in David Bunce’s house. The Misses Bunce are still to be seen arriving at church on the video of our wedding in 1968!
I remember dear Mr Edwards or ‘Daddy E’ as we called him. The Mission Hall was so very important to him. He lived above the stables after we moved to his house and suffered much from the smell of horses below him! I must have driven him mad as I visited regularly and particularly found his old fashioned toaster fascinating!
The Mission Hall shaped my early Christian life more than I realised I particularly remember a sermon on Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac and then a substitute being given at the last moment. It was described as representing the way Jesus was substituted for us and was the first time I fully appreciated the enormity of what He had done for me.
Amy Leon, Breakfast Club, 1988 to 1996: (pictured with Maureen Edmondson)
Breakfast Club started in 1987 when I was 9. I had to wait a whole year to go which seemed unfair and cruel as all my friends got to go! I became a Christian aged 10 when Breakfast Club went to Spring Harvest. Breakfast Club nurtured my faith over the next 10 years and enabled me to grow as a Christian.
Croissants, raspberry jam and the smell (not taste) of coffee sum up Breakfast Club of a Sunday morning for me! Maureen and Doug Edmondson both spent time enabling us to engage with the Bible and also encouraged us to do so on our own. Breakfast Club started at 8.45am, far too early for me and I was always late! Not long after I started going Maureen awarded me a badge saying ‘Not a morning person’ which she instructed me to wear at all times, to warn people!
Although Maureen and Doug led Breakfast Club, the members of Ashbury Free Church supported us financially and in prayer. We were made to feel part of the church and regularly participated in their evening services. In one service, everyone had to encourage someone else by giving them a label – I received a label that said ‘rejoiced over’. Knowing that God rejoices over me was incredibly encouraging and something I still remember today.
Breakfast Club sketches were legendary. Doug directed these productions and made us learn lines and execute comedy even if we didn’t quite ‘get’ it! The ‘Wurd Bank’ sketch was a prime example!
The church members graciously came to every fundraising meal we put on and even paid us to wash their cars! This helped fund our annual trip to Spring Harvest and taught us not to expect our parents to pay! Thank you – I’m sure the food wasn’t amazing and we were not the most practiced of hosts but your graciousness and support enabled us to do better!
Many congratulations to the members of Ashbury Free Church on this momentous occasion. You, collectively, have made a difference in my life and enabled me to get to know God. May God richly bless this time of celebration.
Ewart Chivers :
In the In the summer of 1935, as it was Jubilee year, all the Sunday school children were given a new Bible, blue ones for the girls and mauve for the boys. Both of my sisters Iris and Jean still have their Bibles.
One of the highlights of the year was the Sunday school outing, this usually consisted of a trip in one of the Bunce lorries followed by a picnic at a nearby local beauty spot. The Sunday school outing of 1935 was held in the gardens of a big house, we all gorged ourselves on cream buns and dishes of fruit and jelly.
At Christmas, a large Christmas tree was erected, suitably decorated with tinsel. Everyone received a
Christmas present. In those days, money was very short and a family of six survived on a £2 a week wage. How they managed to find enough money to buy presents for all the children was a mystery to us all. Like most children from Ashbury and the surrounding area, we walked to Sunday school, all dressed in our best clothing. Betty Kingston, my two sisters and I walked from Odstone. On our way home from Sunday school, we usually played on Winslow banks. I received many a clip around the ears for getting grass stains on my best trousers through sliding down the grass bank. When HMS Amethyst escaped down the Yangtze river in July 1949, she sent the Admiralty this famous signal “One hundred up”. We now send the same message to the Ashbury Sunday School “ONE HUNDRED UP”.
I arrived in Ashbury about 1944 at the age of 17 and lodged with Mr. & Mrs Sealey at 1 Pound Piece. I married Barbara (District Nurse) in 1965 and moved to Longcot. Whilst in Ashbury I came to know the Lord as my personal saviour through Gospel services at the Free Church and through the life and witness of many people, the Sealey family, Mr. Edwards & Bunce family to name a few. Many happy memories of Christmas tree celebrations, Sunday School, Bible studies, breaking of bread etc.
John (& Tony Moore) remember travelling with Mr. Edwards, Ray Gigg and David Bunce to a young peoples meeting in Oxford City one November evening. John recalls “his car had just had the engine rebored and so had to be ‘run in’ and go slow. When we came out of the meeting it was very foggy and the speed was even slower as the sides of the road weren’t clear. It was decided that some of us would get out and walk in front of the car but Mr. Edwards wouldn’t let them have a gap between them. Every time they tried to get on he speeded up. We eventually got home very late and tired. We had many laughs over it over the years. We had some good times with Mr. Edwards and praised God for his fellowship.
Another lady connected with the Mission was a Miss Tucker. She lived in the house looking over the Coombs. She was very good to the Sunday school mainly giving out presents, text cards, apples and oranges at Christmas, hi the summer a tea was held in the garden of Ivy house when there was a game to find the hidden treasure and to cap it off, a ride on one of Bunce’s lorries. Mr. Bert Bunce drove the boys & Miss Doris Bunce the girls. It was a big disappointment if it rained”.
I first I first attended regularly in 1984. I was 18 and we, as a family (David, Ruth and my brother Darren) had moved churches. My memories of AEFC are from much earlier as Dad was invited to preach occasionally at evening services. I have to admit, as a child the highlight was supper afterwards with the Misses Bunce at Ivy House! They always seemed very interested in my brother and me, quite a change from other “older” ladies! They always had some new gadget (a new Swiss Cheese Slicer springs to mind!) or toy for us to play with!
I remember soon getting involved with Sunday School and remember taking the little ones e.g. Mandy and Chris’s children, Lorna, Lucy and Jessica, Des and Rem’s boys, Jamie, Alex and Andrew. I also played my flute at the family service or the piano along with James Reade on Sunday evenings. The times we had on the Church Weekend away at Kelston Park near Bath were fun too.
I still think of AEFC as my spiritual home and was baptised there in May 1990. I remember “interesting” discussions at the Tuesday evening bible study house groups at Des and Rem’s house or across at The Old Forge with Eunice and Ray. church parties in the Village Hall, Auntie Betty’s meringues. Lent Services at the Old Methodist Chapel with Miss Partridge on the harmonium and Joint Services with St Mary’s and playing my flute and singing with the choir for Nine Lessons and Carols on the Sunday before Christmas. One occasion I have very fond memories of was Mum and Dad’s 25th Wedding Anniversary in 1987. The whole church helped me prepare a surprise party. I made the cake (at Des and Rem’s and the smell of it cooking during the Tuesday evening bible study nearly gave everyone indigestion!) It was a great success and a complete surprise for Mum and Dad. Maureen Edmondson gave me a “First Aid” recovery box when it was all over and we have a wonderful record of the event as Melvyn Gigg took some excellent photos!
As editor, I get to have the last word! Negatives… the flower rota and the occasional requirement to ‘play’ the piano! Positives: Since joining the church with my husband Andrew a few years ago, we’ve enjoyed a real warmth of friendship and fellowship here.
A church is but a collection of different people which changes and adapts as time goes by and people come and go. Here in Ashbury, as I’ve sifted through so many different stories from over the years, it has been evident how much the church in its varying ways has meant to people, in friendships formed, in encouraging them to not only grow in their faith but to find that peace and security and forgiveness that only Christ can offer, in the first place. There will have been, and will be, times we have not been all that we should be BUT. we are united in our faith in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has done so much for us and who has not, and who will not. ever let us down.
Thank you to all who have had an input into this booklet. I hope it’s a blessing and of interest to you. it’s been immensely interesting if not challenging for me and I’m glad centenaries only come even hundred years! May God bless us all we embark on the next one.
Ashbury Mission Hall – Statement of Faith
A Statement of Faith was drawn up many years ago and we still have this today (1 to 7 below). Though language may change and some of the words are no longer ‘every day English’, we believe the message of the Bible to be true and unchanging through every generation.
Probably the most memorised verses in Sunday School through all the ages, sums it up! ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’ John 3 v 16-17
1. The divine inspiration, Authority and Sufficiency of all the Holy Scriptures.
2. The unity of the Godhead, with the distinction of Persons in that Unity, namely the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to whom equal honour is due.
3a That the Son of God truly became a man, being begotten of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary.
3b That His Death was a sacrifice to God and a propitiation for the remission of sins.
3c That He was raised from the dead.
3d That he ascended to the right hand of God, and is now the all-sufficient High Priest of His People.
3e That he will come again in Person to receive them unto Himself, and to set up His Kingdom.
4 That in consequent of the fall of Adam, man became dead in trespasses and sins and at “enmity against God”.
5 The need of the Holy Spirit’s work in regeneration and sanctification.
6a That the justification of the sinner before God is by faith alone in the atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
6b That every justified one is born of God.
6c That such new birth results in and is made evident by holiness of life and good works.
7a That at death the spirit of man does not cease to exist, or become unconscious.
7b That the dead will be raised either to eternal life in Christ or to eternal damnation in their sins.