A brief perspective of 'place' and 'history'

Peter Ruffles

Peter drew attention to the appropriateness of the day's occasion to Hertford Castle. The Castle has always seen St Andrew's as its connected church. The Castle was a royal place and there were bridges linking Castle and S.Andrew's. St Andrew's patron to this day is Her Majesty the Queen in her capacity as Duke of Lancaster.(All Saints has The Marquess Townshend.)
He then traced the histories of the church halls, spanning 120 years, and the equivalent drives in their time which priest and people had energised in order to develop the church's community work. He referred to the Christian Worship expressing a traditional Christian Faith. That tradition of serving care in the community transcending 'religion' in the ways which each succeeding age has been able to do as better social, medical, spiritual understanding has developed. Motivated by Christian faith and Worship, St Andrew's has historically reached out to Hertford people.

Peter described two earlier huge efforts. There had been no 'hall' before 1891 Then, the huge enterprise for the Parish was to provide a place for what the Victorian's called 'entertainments'. After a three day Bazaar on Christs Hospital Playing Fields culminating in an adventurous Balloon journey from the field, enough money was raised to build St Nicholas Hall and acquire the Verger's House (Both now Beckwith's antiques) The hall, preceding others in the town, became a whole town meeting and teaching place for young and old.

By the end of the 1960's upkeep of a listed building and a huge hall, had become a challenge. Then came the push for the present hall in the churchyard. It was paid for virtually by the sale price (£9,000) of the dilapidated and rotting St Nicholas Hall, but it was right for what the church then saw as its mission. The parish population had drifted to Sele Farm. The town centre population to other perimeters. The Hall (called a Vestry Extension), clean and light and adaptable, would serve the 'plant' needs at 'base' Other ministry would 'go to the people' without 'plant' where the people were. 'Entertainment' from the Victorian era, was not what we did in the 1970's when Peter was first Church Warden. The emphasis was on Sunday School, church teaching generally and socially,Mother's Union, Youth Clubs with a strong church association. This was a successful era, and many questing people from the community came to grow in a faith, through companionship.

Now, the spirit calls us to embrace more widely and to shelter many more. Health, well-being, spiritual development are better understood and the way the church can provide is clearer to us. So the vision of The St Andrew's Centre is born.

Extending the 'place' perspective, importantly, peter referred to our links with the StAndrew Street Traders and the many ways (beyond mere Shopping Therapy) in which we are connected. The St Andrew's Centre can complement the trade in the street (as well as compliment it).

Peter ended by just drawing again the management structure to people's attention. he mentioned the value of being overseen by a Trust which could conceivably continue to function beyond 'church' independently. He described Viv Thornton the first Operations and Development manager linked to both PCC and to Trustees, the current Churchwarden, as a key figure in future months to whom people could now relate.


Peter Ruffles, 27/06/2011