The Harling and Guiltcross Benefice

News from Wretham

Wretham Remembers

Legion and local villagers pay Remembrance Sunday tribute.

The war memorial outside the church gates of St. Ethelbert at Wretham was the focus of attention for over 50 people on Remembrance Sunday.

The traditional service, organised by Wretham and Hockham branch Royal British Legion, was moved from Hockham through lack of a priest – and, at short notice, the Wretham service was led by the Rev. Caryll Baker of East Harling, after the curate, the Rev. Josh Whitnall, fell ill.

But the hour long service, first at the memorial and later in the church, moved with grace and reverence.

RBL secretary Miles Howard recited the names of the men from the local villages connected with the Legion branch and gave the Exhortation.

Trumpeter Chris Ellis from Shropham played Last Post and Reveille either side of the two minute silence and later accompanied organist Callum Dring during hymns.

Branch chairman Richard Burlingham carried the standard in and out of the church, where it was draped over the altar during the service. Lessons were read by Mr Howard and church secretary John Kitson.

Outside, wreaths were laid by Wretham Parish Council chairman Harold Smith and by those from the various villages whose members are within the Wretham and Hockham RBL branch.

Wretham Remembers


Special service remembers those in village war graves.

Despite poor weather, over 100 people turned out in a Norfolk village on Wednesday (November 8th) to pay tribute to Poles and Czechs who flew from its grass airfield and died during WW2.

The 20th anniversary of the annual service at St. Ethelbert, Wretham, was led by the priest in charge, The Revd Br. Simon Richardson Best, who reminded those attending that simply remembering was not enough – unless we acted on those memories so the present and future could be better.

The service has been organised for the past two decades by Thetford and District branch RAFA, whose chairman, John Macpherson, was parade marshal and read the Exhortation, before a bugler played Last Post followed by the silent tribute to men who flew Wellingtons for 311 Squadron from Wretham. They lie in 14 war graves in a corner of the churchyard.

With nine standards from RBL, RAFA and ATC units on parade, Deputy Lieutenant Melinda Raker led wreath-laying at the war memorial outside the church gates, followed by local MP Liz Truss.

Among those also paying tribute as a piper played a lament were officers from the Czech and Polish embassies, from RAF Honington and Godmanchester and the 48th TFW at Lakenheath, Breckland Council chairman Peter Wilkinson, Thetford Mayor Stuart Wright, Watton Mayor Peter Bishop and Wretham Parish Council chairman Harold Smith.

Remembrance at Wretham.

Remembrance at Wretham.

As the nation once again comes together to remember so many lives lost in conflict, Wretham will host two separate functions in November.

Wednesday November 8th at 10.45am.

The service of remembrance for the Polish and Czech WW2 flyers from Wretham airfield reaches its 20th anniversary this year.

Organised by Thetford Royal Air Forces Association to honour the 14 men who lie in war graves in a corner of St. Ethelbert’s churchyard, the short service will be led by the Revd. Simon Richardson. After prayers, Exhortation, playing of the Last Post and two minute silence, the well attended ceremony sees wreaths laid at the war memorial before the parade moves to the war graves for planting of poppy crosses.

The event will be attended by a large gathering, including uniformed military attaches from London embassies, as well as local mayors, council chairmen and other local and county dignitaries.

After the service refreshments are served in the Village Hall.

Sunday November 12th at 10.45am.

St. Ethelbert is this year’s venue for the annual Remembrance Sunday service, which moves round villages from which are drawn members of Wretham and Hockham branch RBL.

The traditional service, with its well known hymns and ceremonial features, will be led by the Revd. Josh Whitnall, with Callum Dring at the organ.

Members of the general public are warmly welcomed at all these three occasions.

Wretham church bids farewell to the Gibsons.

Wretham church bids farewell to the Gibsons.

In a warm and emotional end to a service of Holy Communion at St. Ethelbert, former treasurer Julian Gibson was left in no doubt about how much the village would miss the departure of him and his wife Joy, now making a new home in Bedfordshire, closer to their two sons and family.

Mr. Gibson suffered a severe brain haemorrhage in January and has had to give up his four parish clerk roles and that of treasurer to the church at Wretham, which he had held for 13 years.

Church safeguarding officer John Ford recounted Julian’s banking career, interest in music and the major role that he and Joy had taken in the life of the church and the village where they lived for 16 years.

The Revd. Simon Richardson, who was accompanied for his first service at St. Ethelbert since ordination by the new curate, the Revd. Josh Whitnall, offered special prayers for the couple before handing them farewell gifts from the congregation, garden tokens to share and cards for both of them.

They were accompanied for the occasion by Paul, one of their two sons.

The service also included a special note for George Stronge, who lived with his wife and former church treasurer Anne in Wretham for many years and still attends regularly. The last hymn was sung to the tune of “Danny Boy” in a tribute to the Irishman’s upcoming 90th birthday.


Wretham Summer Party is another success.

Wretham Summer Party is another success.

The Wretham Summer Party entertained over 90 people this year for a happy evening where the expected rain did not begin until virtually everybody had left for home!

The guests at the Wretham Lodge home of Gordon Alexander and Ian Salter saw the doors of the former Georgian rectory thrown open to them as well as offering everyone the chance to stroll around the ten acres of gardens that surround the property – with a glass in their hand.

The generosity of the hosts extended, as ever, to providing all the wine and part of the selection of soft drink, while members of the St. Ethelbert congregation produced a buffet which covered the big table and sideboard in the dining room.

What was notable, as in almost every year, was that the culinary efforts of the ladies of the church were once again boosted by gifts of food from a good number of their guests who had already paid to attend.

It summed up the spirit of the evening where the sales of raffle tickets exceeded expectations to the extent that tickets ran right out, leaving guests to choose later in the evening from a fine array of prizes.

Everyone who took part and especially those that worked hard through the evening to keep guests supplied and happy were thanked by the Revd. Simon Richardson. Making his first visit to the village since being ordained deacon at Norwich Cathedral was the new curate to the benefice, the Revd. Josh Whitnall, accompanied by his wife Bethany and very young baby.

The evening made a profit of more than £1542 which will be devoted to the St. Ethelbert fabric fund.  

Memorial bench gift for Wretham churchyard.

Memorial bench gift for Wretham churchyard.

The churchyard at St. Ethelbert, Wretham, has been given a fine new bench, installed in memory of members of a family with long connections to the village.

Nigel and Linda Anderson, who live now in Banham, gave the bench in memory of Mrs. Anderson’s late parents, John and Gladys Trumpess.

It comes as a gift from them and Linda’s siblings, Carol, Linda, Sydney, Betty, and Michael.

It was placed, with the agreement of the church, under a large sycamore tree at the east end of the churchyard, overlooking a number of Trumpess family grave plots.

The bench, designed to seat three people, with an extra armrest to help those with mobility problems, is also notable because, while looking remarkably as if it is made of wood, is actually constructed entirely from recycled plastics.

It comes from a company called Realise Futures, based in Ipswich, which converts waste material into a range of products, while employing a number of disabled people.

Another successful party

Another successful party.

Almost 100 people attended this year’s Summer Party at Wretham Lodge and, despite a few spots of rain in the latter part of the evening, spent much of the evening outside, touring the gardens or just relaxing, busy in conversation, clutching a glass of refreshment.

Hosts Gordon Alexander and Ian Salter, who provided wine for the evening, mingled with guests, who also had soft drinks available as well as a large buffet, laid on by members of St. Ethelbert’s Church.

A well-supported raffle raised around £300 and, at the end of a hugely enjoyable night for everyone, the funds of the village church were swelled by around £1200.

Jubilee Service

Jubilee Service

A congregation of 25 rounded off celebrations of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a rare service of Evensong at St. Ethelbert on the Sunday evening.

The service was led by the priest in charge of the Harling and Guiltcross benefice, the Rev. Simon Richardson with John Richens at the organ for a service that ended with the singing of the National Anthem.

There was a surprise for all those arriving at the service. While the outside was decked with bunting and the interior of the church was full of beautiful flower arrangements from a wedding the previous day, in the porch was a special display staged by congregation member Angela Lynne.

Mrs. Lynne has had a long-time hobby of collecting clothes from past generations and her tableau showed replica outfits she had made of those worn at the Queen’s coronation by Prince Charles, aged four, and his sister Princess Anne, who was two.

Benefice Service led by the Bishop of Thetford

Benefice service led by the Bishop of Thetford.

The latest fifth Sunday benefice service saw about 70 people attend St. Ethelbert at Wretham, with a large number of people happily discovering a church that they had never visited before.

The BCP service was led by the Bishop of Thetford (the Rt. Rev. Dr. Alan Winton) who also gave the address and administered Holy Communion, assisted by our priest in charge (the Rev. Simon Richardson).

Bishop Alan also offered special prayers at the steps of the chancel to George and Christine Price, soon to celebrate their golden wedding and long-time members of the Wretham congregation.

After the service, attended by friends from all but one of the churches in the benefice, many lingered to renew or make new friendships, while enjoying refreshments prepared by members of the Wretham congregation.

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