Churches full of children

Over 100 schoolchildren have just visited St Paul’s and St Matthew’s in the space of a week. Peter Seal had 5- and 6-year-olds gazing up at the vast wooden roof of St Paul’s, imagining flipping it over and launching it at sea.

‘But what really interests them most’, he says, ‘is the age of the church. I tell them the builders started work on it in 1870, before their parents or grandparents or great-grandparents were born. They’re amazed – and they keep asking about the date, again and again.’

At St Matthew’s, Gary Ruffell told 10- and 11-year-old pupils about the Saxon shepherds’ church falling into ruin as the Black Death shrunk the population to near zero – with the roof collapsing and reeds growing up through the floor. Small groups were shown a replica of the ancient Wyke communion plate and Bishop John’s modern-day ‘resurrection cross’. Others climbed the narrow staircase to the organ loft and visited Weeke Pond 50 yards down the road.

‘One of the aims of the recent restoration and improvement work at the church was to open up this beautiful, ancient building to the wider community, and to a younger generation’, commented Peter Seal. ‘This first crowd of pupils certainly appreciated it.’