Hambledon has played a part in history-making with the creation of Godalming Minster, a revival of the original thought to have been founded around 820 AD
The new Minster unites Godalming’s parish church, St Peter and St Paul, and St Mark’s at Ockford Ridge with the parishes of Hambledon and Busbridge. This will strengthen resources and increase diocese funding as well enabling the churches to share their ministry across a wider area.
An inauguration service held at St and St Paul’s on Sunday January 14th was led by Bishop Andrew Watson, the Bishop of Guildford. He was joined by Simon Taylor, who becomes the new Rector of Godalming Minster, and Rev Sheila Samuels, Associate Minister.
Simon was previously the Rector of Busbridge and Hambledon churches. Simon Willetts, Hambledon’s associate minister until the beginning of this year, was also involved in the service. He is taking on a new role within the Minster.
Many others from Hambledon attended the service, which was packed and with standing room only, including members of the St Peter’s congregation. Jeremy Hunt, constituency MP and a Hambledon resident welcomed the creation of the Minster.
Local police, school leaders, voluntary group leaders, the mayors of Waverley and Godalming and local councillors joined with senior clergy from the area. Hambledon was represented by Stewart Payne, the chair of its parish council, and many villagers.
The inauguration service saw much singing, led by the choir of St Peter and St Paul and with others taking part. The Bishop of Guildford gave the welcome and introduction. A member from each of the church’s congregations presented a gift to the bishop. For Hambledon, Ann and Ron Vickery presented a Communion set, fashioned from a melted down English Civil War helmet.
At the end of the service, children let off party poppers, which cascaded down across the congregation before a commemorative cake was cut.
The Minster was created after widespread consultation followed by a vote by those on church registers. Hambledon’s church will retain its current services as well as a dedicated vicar (associate minister) who will live in the village. Recruitment to replace Simon Willetts is underway.
Minsters date back to the 7th Century and were once widespread. In Godalming, as elsewhere, they were slowly replaced with the introduction of parishes. However, as the Church of England looks to reinvigorate the work of churches across a wider area and make savings, they are staging a comeback. A Minster was last known to be active in the Godalming area c1100
More information about the new Minster can be found here – https://www.cofeguildford.org.uk/godalming-welcomes-new-minster.php and www.godalmingminster.org or https://www.bhcgodalming.org