Report on St Ambrose Fête 2016
Report on St Ambrose Fête 2016.
On Saturday 31 July the parish church of St Ambrose, Westbourne held its annual summer fête. The weather gods were in a benign mood, the attendance was very healthy and the day went with a pronounced swing.
St Ambrose Fête was (in)formally opened by Ray Dorset, the founder and frontman of Mungo Jerry, who had the assembly singing the band’s 1970 hit “In the Summertime”. He then stayed around for a while and graciously chatted to some of those present. Mungo Jerry, by the way, is still performing today, though Ray is the only remaining member of the original line-up.
There was the usual array of stalls, many of which were inside the church, including books, jewellery, home-made cakes and jam, home-grown flowers and vegetables, locally produced honey, and bric-à-brac. The parish boasts many interesting characters, such as the custodian of the tombola, Bridget Jux, who left rural Ireland at seventeen and for many years ran her own primary school in Nigeria. Food and drink were in plentiful supply in the shape of burgers and sausages or the excellent chicken curry sold by Taj Mahal of 42 Poole Road, as well as cream teas served in the church hall. The vicar and a friend from London managed the alcoholic side of things, offering a choice between Pimm’s and two Ringwood Brewery products.
Some of the day’s less predictable features were a 1957 Fordson tractor, an old fire engine with (younger) crew, and ferret racing organized by the admirable charity Purbeck Ferret Rescue, from whose staff and literature the uninitiated were able to learn a great deal.
Nor was there any shortage of live music, with two groups performing, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. May Contain Rock is a competent four-piece band from Gillingham (Dorset) which covers hits from the 1970s and subsequent decades. The Land Girls, of whom there are two, accompanied by recorded backing tracks, are a 1940s-style duo reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters, and most engagingly presented songs of the Second World War.
St Ambrose, a Grade II* Listed Building, is a fine Gothic Revival edifice erected in 1898-1900 to accommodate the Anglo-Catholic tradition, and its liturgy is still enriched with ceremonial, vestments, candles and incense. A considerable number of splendid vestments were on display in the chancel and sanctuary.
The church also has an imposing four-storey tower, and one of the delights of the day was a tour of the tower under the guidance of the immensely knowledgeable Alwyn Ladell, a former churchwarden and editor of the parish magazine whose association with the church began in his schooldays, when he wound the tower clock three times a week. The views from the pinnacles are truly spectacular: on this clear day they extended as far as Corfe Castle.
The St Ambrose community will be justifiably proud of an extremely impressive occasion.
My thanks to John Barnes for reporting on this in my absence.