St Peter & St Paul Over Stowey
Welcome to Over Stowey. The parish lies right on the edge of the beautiful Quantocks and covers a wide area of farmland, forest, woodland and heath. It consists of a number of small scattered hamlets. One of these, the tiny village of Over Stowey, is the centre of activity for the community and where you’ll find the Church and the Village Hall. For years barn conversions have provided, almost entirely, the only new homes in the parish. Social housing is very limited, property is at a premium and population growth is static.
The Village Hall right next to the church was once the village school. Now it’s home to the village Social Club, community gatherings and can be hired for private functions. The old playground, for a long time derelict, is being turned into a garden and BBQ area which we hope will offer even more potential for ‘joined up’ community events. For such a rural parish we are well served with amenities. The Village Hall, Playing Field and Campbell Rooms are all vested in one charity run by the people of Over Stowey. The Campbell Rooms are leased to the YMCA and the Playing Field is home to a thriving Cricket Club (with junior and senior teams), tennis club and children’s play area.
Other organisations include the Scripture Union camp and Quantock Lodge, which offers a range of activities and facilities including a swimming pool and a gym. Walking, horse-riding, mountain biking and family outings to Ramscombe picnic area attract plenty of visitors to Great Wood.
We have 150 households in the parish with a total population of 350, including a very small number of families who have been here for generations. According to the 2011 census, there are 215 working age adults, 50 children and 85 people over the age of 65. Nearly 25% of our ‘economically active’ residents work over 49 hours a week, 39% are self-employed and 16% work part time. With all that Over Stowey has to offer, there is also a large transient population, with whom the resident community (other than those who provide holiday accommodation) has little engagement. There are no shops, cafes or pubs in the parish.
Community Breakfast 2015
The Parish Church
There has however, been a church here for nearly a thousand years. St Peter and St Paul is the only licensed place of worship with many notable features, including Burne-Jones windows, medieval bench ends, a magnificent brass candelabrum and a fine set of six bells which calls us to worship. The church is open during the day and is often visited. With this in mind, and our desire to see the building become a better and more versatile space for the whole community, we plan to re-order the North Chapel, vacated by the pipe organ in 2013. You can find out more about the church building on ‘A Church Near You’ at www.achurchnearyou.com
Our ecclesiastical tradition is broad and central. We have learned to appreciate a miscellany of different views and approaches to worship over recent years and we use both BCP and CW liturgies. Our most well attended service is the traditional Carols by Candlelight which attracts around 120 people, many of whom are not usually church goers.
We are mainly upper middle-aged and above but younger people and children attend occasionally, particularly for festivals. Probably about 30% of us come from neighbouring villages.
It’s hard to be objective and see ourselves as others do, but we like to think we are a warm, welcoming, open church where everyone is equally valued. We aim to be rooted in scripture and led by the Spirit; to maintain the nurture and discipleship of our faithful congregation, while at the same time making our witness relevant to the whole community and striving to put Christ at its heart. These are our aims, not our achievements and we recognize that there is plenty of room for improvement.
Patronal Festival Garden Party 2014
The Organisation and Activities
Ordinary PCC meetings, held every other month, are chaired by the Lay Chairman. A monthly informal meeting takes place for anyone who wants to come along, to talk about LIFE (living in faith every day). It’s an opportunity to share concerns, give thanks and prayers for our community and to learn together. We would like to increase participation in this group.
An imaginative and hardworking Fundraising Committee heads up a number of events each year, some of them in the church, such as fully staged operettas by Somerset Opera, art exhibitions and concerts. Others include themed suppers, Murder Mystery evenings, Fun Rides (equestrian!) and metal detecting. We try to do something special for our annual Patronal Festival. This year we are planning a Safari Supper in addition to our usual flower festival, which is always spectacular. We have a reputation for putting on good value social events, enjoyed by church goers and non-church goers alike which means that fundraising doubles as mission and outreach.
A number of charities are regularly supported and donations are also made annually on a one off basis and in response to need. Money is raised in support of a different nominated charity every Christmas by carol singing round the village.