Extracts from Parish Magazine for December 2000

A letter from Lisa, Ben & Family in Zimbabwe
Christleton Local History Group.
Nature Notes
Christleton Millennium Group
Walk in His Light
Christmas Games

A letter from Lisa, Ben, & Family in Zimbabwe.
It was great to spend our last service at St James before we flew to Zimbabwe for three years parish work in Chipinge (sponsored by Crosslinks). Thank you for your prayers. It was especially good that Mr Whetnall was praying for Africa already and could include us in that. I was glad to meet familiar faces and receive your good wishes before leaving for very unfamiliar territory. Thanks too to Gertrude for the suitcase. Although we didn't need it in the end, it was great in claming our panic! Our address from the end of October is;
St Barnabas Rectory
PO Box 420
Chipinge,
Zimbabwe.
Please pray for justice in this land, fair and wise government and that the people would maintain their positive attitude to each other and the future.
With best wishes
Lisa Bentham (nee Hardy) & Ben, Jonathan and David

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Christleton Local History Group.
Request for Information
Does anyone have any information or memories about the activities of the Christleton Home Guard or Land Army during the Second World War that they would be willing to share with the History Group. We would be delighted to talk to anyone willing to do so and also copy any photographs they might have. We have the minute book of the Christleton Home Guard Company, but it would be good to talk to anyone who would feel able to share their memories with us. Thank you. Please contact David Cummings on 332410 if you are able to help.

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Nature Notes
I’m sure readers will welcome the news that, after a very short time, our lonely cob from the Pit has already found a new mate. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s one of his daughters from the 1998 brood! This young female had been present with the moult flock at the Groves in Chester during late August and September. She was also there in early October until she was seen accompanying our cob on his flights to the Pit. They now seem very established there, and many observers have noticed that his very bad limp is less pronounced since his arrival with his new mate. There’s a spring in his step despite the wet weather! The pair on the canal XLD 136 with their four cygnets that attacked him last month are now busy carrying out flying practice on the canal and have just taken off outside my window as I write. 10/11/00
David Cummings

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Christleton Millennium Group
The AGM of the group was held at the Primary School at the end of October and celebrated the final chapter of its three-year existence. The group achieved almost all of its major aims and enabled most village organisations and age groups to celebrate the passing of the new Millennium. However, the final chapter will not be fully in place until all the funds raised for our "Well for Africa Appeal" are allocated. We anticipate that this will be at the end of the year. A final meeting will take place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 16th January at the Primary School when the Group will be wound up after distributing the funds to appropriate bodies, such as Oxfam, WaterAid, Wilmslow Wells and so on. I am discussing the funding issue with these organisations, as the Millennium Group are conscious of the request from our fundraisers that the money raised should go to specific villages and not to the central coffers of the large aid organisations. It is almost certain that we will be able to pay for three wells and two solar panel kits. However, there is a problem over the planned gift of one of the solar panel kits to Ladakh, as we've heard from Bilques Giri in Kargil Village that solar panels are unable to function efficiently in their village, which is in the direct shadow of the Himalayas and therefore gets little sun. I am asking permission from the village to substitute the equivalent funds from their planned solar kit to help provide money for the education for a group of poor children instead.
Older members of the community will remember Bilques as the oldest of the five delightful Ladakhi girls who spent the winter with us in the village with Gertrude Wright in 1986/7. She now lives with her husband in Kargil, a very deprived area of Ladakh, where only 19% boys and 3% girls are literate. She has pleaded with us to try to help some of these unfortunate children by sponsoring their education and clothing for a year.
A full report of the Christleton Millennium Group activities is now available from David Cummings, and the photographic year books of the Village during Year 2000 are also available for people to view, and to borrow.
David Cummings

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Walk in His Light
"An experience never to be forgotten" many said; it’s fading into history but I’d like to thank all those who came see the Flower Festival in Chester Cathedral during the weekend 8th—11th September, especially anyone who helped in anyway to make this Millennium celebration so successful. Many of those who helped are members of Chester Flower Club and Rural Chester Flower Club.
Three years ago I was asked by the Cheshire Area of NAFAS if I would like to co-design a flower festival with Barry Grey – one of our top international floral designers. At the request of the Dean, the festival had to celebrate the life of Christ and nothing else.
Barry and I spent many hours in the cathedral drawing sketches and measuring up for our designs. We decided to go for large set pieces with larger than usual teams of arrangers working on each one. We needed to prepare most of the designs whilst the Cathedral was closed, so between 7pm – 8pm on Thursday 7th September 320 arrangers and helpers arrived. They excelled themselves, working on their exhibitions until midnight.
Large designs need large-scale mechanics and accessories. Workshops had been organised during the last two years to make willow figures and animals; huge pots were created from cloth sculpture; 90 candles were made from cardboard rolls to greet the visitors and recreate our festival symbol; and palm trees were made from plastic drainage pipe and coconut husk. All these plus the wrought iron stands, the 20-foot star and the river and bridge were moved in and assembled during the two days prior to staging night.
By 1.30am we had cleared the debris, packed the tired arrangers back in their cars and were able to head for our beds. At 7am we were back at the Cathedral to put the finishing touches in place. At 10am the doors opened and in the first half an hour I’d spoken to people from Scotland, the Isle of Man and the south coast. During the four days of the festival, they came from every corner of the British Isles. We couldn’t believe it.
The magnificent profit made by Walk in His Light was in the region of £36,000.
Diane Fair
Chairman of Chester Flower Club

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Christmas Games
On the morning of 19th December 1844 widow Ruby Hallows took the short walk from her small terraced house in Crook Street into Watergate Street, Chester. There she proceeded to the small toyshop in the rows run by Mr. Lindsay. For some weeks she had been visiting the shop making a small payment each time towards a geographical game, Spooner’s Pictorial Map of England and Wales Arranged as an amusing and instructive Game for Youth. Illustrated with upwards of One hundred and Twenty Views, Published by William Spooner, 377 Strand, November 5th 1844. I am sure your son James will greatly enjoy this new game. It’s the very latest you can get” said Mr. Lindsay . He delivered the package, which he had carefully wrapped in brown paper with similar coloured string into Ruby’s well-worn hands with a written receipt for the sum of one shilling and sixpence.

On Christmas day the bells of Chester Cathedral could be heard even through the extra drapes put over the window to keep out the cold. The snow was gently falling outside as it had done all night. Comfortably nestled into a wooden rocking chair in front of the large black range where a cheerful fire brightly glowed Ruby handed to her only son James, aged nine, two packages. James knew what was in the first package for each Christmas he received an apple and an orange. The second package puzzled him but as he struggled with the string and the brown paper unfolded his bright eyes, slightly flushed cheeks and wide smile could not hide his utter delight as he starred at the folding board game embellished with its brilliantly hand coloured views. From the package spilt a bone cup with a dice and counters. His mother’s finger pointed to the picture of Chester on the map, which James instantly recognised. “But where are all these other places” he asked as his finger roamed from Falmouth to Norwich to Corwen to Darlington and to Berwick. “That I am sure you will find out in good time” his mother said feeling satisfied that her gift had been a good choice. James played with the game for most of the day throwing the dice and travelling from town to town with the counters. On Boxing Day James carefully inscribed on the plain canvas backing in black ink and in his best hand. This map belongs to James Hallows, Chester, 1844.

In later years James married settling in the busy port of Sunderland as a shipwright. The game was now kept in a locked bureau but brought out specially each Christmas to the delight of his four children. James died at the age of 69 and after the death of his wife Margaret the following year the contents of the house passed to their eldest son Peter. Peter sold most of the effects including the game to a local second hand trader as he planned to emigrate to America. The bone cup and counters remained in the secret drawer of the bureau whilst the map game parted company as it was placed in the shopkeepers window. The game passed through a number of hands over the next few years including two Church Jumble Sales. For many years it lay in a loft of a Glasgow tenement hidden within a suitcase with the muffled sounds of an excited ballet class filtering from the room below . Somehow it found its way to London and passed through an auction room in a cardboard box along with a selection of Dickens works. It narrowly missed being destroyed by bombing in London in August 1940 before spending quite a number of years in Pickfords storage depot whilst its owners lived in West Germany. On returning to England they felt they had managed to live without the ephemera so decided to give the game along with other items to a charity shop. Bought by a gently spoken vicar the game found a quiet retreat with no young children in the study of a Norfolk vicarage near Blakeney. There it lay hardly noticed again after its initial close scrutiny.

The vicars busy body daughter Ruth decided daddy just had too much clutter. She considered it her duty to get the best possible price for each item she removed from his study. She spent months hawking every item round antique shops within a large radius of her village trying to extract a greater offer each time from rather bemused dealers. She even travelled some forty miles to where the BBC Antiques Road Show was visiting. After queuing for three hours she realised to her dismay she was unable to show the experts anything which entitled her to three minutes of fame on Sunday afternoon television. Eventually quite worn out having travelled hundreds of miles she sold the game to an antiquarian bookseller just a few doors away from the vicarage. The bookseller was grateful as he had a friend who was an antique map specialist and he knew the game would be of interest to him. Making a good profit the game changed hands again.

The map specialist sold his stock via the Internet and in due course the game was described and illustrated on his web site for the whole world to see. It remained there until the first week in December of the new millennium when an e-mail order was received from a Mrs. Felicity Bracegirdle with details of her platinum credit card. It was intended for her second husband Gordon who had given her a metallic green BMW the previous Christmas so she thought she had better come up with something original herself this year. This was the first year she had managed to evade the crowds and purchase most of her presents on the Web. She had even ordered the turkey and trimmings on her computer from the supermarket just a mile down the road and had it all delivered.

Christmas Day arrived and with her perfectly manicured hands she handed her husband the game, beautifully wrapped in holly patterned paper with a large red silk bow. As Gordon unwrapped the parcel his face lit up with delight at this unusual antiquarian gift. “That is absolutely wonderful darling,” he said. “What a fantastic addition to my collection”. Felicity smiled with a feeling of relief. A torrent of zapping noises could be hear from the next room as there son James, age nine, proceeded to annihilate a large invasion of three headed monsters that had just landed on earth via his gleaming new computer. Gordon sipped from a small sherry glass as he studied his gift carefully. “Look dear” he said “There is a picture of Falmouth where we had a holiday last year”. “Norwich where I went to school”. “Corwen where we have the cottage”. “Chester where you bought that dreadful hat and lost all that money at the races”. Darlington where we met and Berwick where you said you would marry me.” By this time Felicity was getting bored and impatient as her eager eyes lingered on the large unwrapped parcel beneath the Christmas tree. Unfortunately that is why she did not hear Gordon say “Have you seen this inscription on the back of the map darling? Didn’t your great great grandfather come from Chester and wasn’t he a James Hallows?” The fleeting moment had passed. Felicity was already walking through a sea of Christmas paper modelling her new designer label fake fur coat with buttons to match the colour of her car.
Richard Nicholson

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