THE PARISH PROFILE
This document was created during the Interregnum of 2017.
January 2017. Full text below.
The boundary of the Stoulton civil parish follows much of the line of the old ecclesiastical parish enclosing ancient farmland, the village of Stoulton and several scattered hamlets that have grown up around ancient farmhouses. Everywhere there are footpaths, many lead to the church of St Edmund, King and Martyr which lies beside Church Lane in a Conservation area. Many of the old houses and farmhouses are listed, once tied cottages have been ‘gentrified’ and many of the 33 houses built for rent in the 1950s - down the road on the Claverton Estate in the hamlet of Hawbridge, - are now privately owned.
The land is still farmed but very few people work on the land.
On the night of the 2011 census 453 people were living in 176 households in the parish, the population is not expected to increase much in the immediate future.
Stoulton residents come from a variety of lifestyle/educational and social backgrounds, but are mostly owner-occupiers, professionals, well educated, articulate, with English as first language. Many are retired having ‘escaped to the country’. Those in work mostly drive daily to workplaces away from home, some work from home. They value the thriving Village Hall, the historic and well preserved church building, the farm shop, the good transport links and the beautiful rural setting.
There is a strong community spirit, much informal pastoral support and a considerable sharing of expertise. Many engage in village activities and volunteer to help organise celebration meals, coffee mornings and contribute to working parties. However there is still much to do to restore social contact between the various parts of the civil parish.
THE PARISH CHURCH OF SAINT EDMUND,
KING & MARTYR.
St. Edmund’s has been the Parish Church of Stoulton with Drakes Broughton since 1922.
St. Edmund’s was built in the Norman style circa.1120, its footprint has not changed over the centuries. Today it is structurally sound, grade 2* listed, well cared for but lacking many modern facilities. The church has an open churchyard.
The church, like the civil parish, has been through something like a revolution in the past 50 or so years. Stoulton no longer has a community made up of farmers, market gardeners and agricultural labourers, there are no lay patrons or great landowners and since 1932 there has been no school. Stoulton children attend St. Barnabas First and Middle School in Drakes Broughton and Pershore High School, or local independent schools. Among today’s residents there is no tradition of regularly attending St. Edmund’s Church despite the fact that 337 people registered as Christians at the last census; people are used to getting into their cars and driving out of the parish. Nonetheless there is much good will towards the church; attendance at Christmas is good and there are many informal links between “churchgoers’’ (of whatever regularity, frequency and location) and others within the wider community. Members of the church, some of whom are very elderly and live outside the parish, are very loyal and are determined to make sure that the church is not seen as a ‘club’.
For the past few years there have been just two services a month at St Edmund’s; one an evening Eucharist, the other Morning Prayer. As with many rural parishes, this congregation encompasses a wide range of Christian belief and experience, including, Roman Catholic, Liberal and Evangelical. The Parish Share has always been paid in full but increasingly the money comes out of depleting reserves. On the face of it the future for St. Edmund’s is unsustainable but the church and its supporters in the wider community have come together to do all they can to make St Edmund’s, as building and people, more resilient to change.
VISION 2020 is a collaborative community project, owned by the
PCC, that aims to create more a sustainable future for St. Edmund’s.
In 2020 the building will be 900 years old and the community aims to celebrate the 900th anniversary in a warm and comfortable building adapted, equipped and ready for ongoing use as a place of Christian worship but also as a place where residents and visitors can enjoy local history, heritage, art and music.The plan for the church as a building is well underway. It will require courage and commitment to implement and will depend on successful fundraising but this will bring with it opportunities for engagement with the whole community and offer opportunities to heal any disconnect that remains between the church and wider Stoulton community.
The plan for the church as people, is developing. It is based on a desire to express and deepen an awareness and understanding of the Kingdom values of love, justice, compassion and freedom, and a belief that St Edmund’s should be a ‘spiritual hub’ for the area, visible through the engagement of its incumbent and members with a wide range of local activities and services. Local people need to be able to see that the church is socially aware (e.g. of areas of need, including rural poverty) and world-aware rather than inwardly focussed. The ‘new’ church needs to be concerned with more than just Sunday services and Baptism needs be available to all.
OUR NEW PRIEST IN CHARGE
The new priest-in-charge, as team leader and team player, must be willing and able to support, work with and further these plans. He/she needs to:
The role of the priest-in-charge will be very much one of promoting, sustaining and deepening Christian belief and faith in an ever changing and increasingly sceptical and secular world. Without this kind of leadership, St Edmund’s future will be severely limited - but the situation also presents the right person with a fantastic opportunity!
In addition, Stoulton currently offers a large and modern parsonage house with a separate, but connected, parish office.