Alphington Church Stories
Thiefs in Alphington Church
On the 18th June 1758 the following items were stolen from the church: two large Silver Flagons; a Silver Chalice and Cover (the cover was gilded in gold); a Silver Salver; a large Silver Plate; a Communion green Velvet Cloth with gold fringe; two Diaper Napkins; a black cloth Pall; four gold Tassells that were cut from the Pulpit Cushions; also two Common Prayer Books owned by Elizabeth Rowe and Grace Taylor.
Another robbery took place in about 1780 where amongst other items the Church Plate was stolen. The thief was apprehended and it is said that he was hung at Wonford. Unfortunately, he had already disposed of the items he had stolen.
Stories of Alphington Church from the Villagers of Alphington
When Revd. Bennett was Rector of Alphington Mr. Brewer was Sexton. During the Sunday evening services Mr. Brewer would stand by a heavy curtain that was heavily decorated with brass. When he felt Revd. Bennett had delivered enough of his sermon and it was time to stop he would shake the curtain so that the brass adornments would rattle! Mr. Brewer would also stand at the entrance door to the church before the beginning of these services and hand out peppermints and other sweets to the worshippers so that they could eat them during the service!
Mr. W. J. Coles recorded that the behaviour of the young element inside of the old box pews during his grandfather's time and also his father's early days was so disgraceful that the Sexton was provided with a cane. He used this cane to silence the noise and laughter during the service by slashing it in over the pews upon the culprits!
Before the days of electricity the organ in the church had to have a person at the back to pump the set of bellows that sucked air in and filled the wind chest so that the organ could be played. One day the organist was playing away when suddenly he was pressing the keys but there was total silence. Upon investigation behind the organ it was found that the gentleman in charge of the bellows had fallen fast asleep!
Mr. Charter was a rather strict gentleman who was in charge of the church choir between 1936 and 1946. One evening while the choir members were waiting for Mr. Charter to arrive they begged the organist to entertain them. The organist loved to play jazzy type tunes on the piano so he started to play In The Mood. Unfortunately, he was caught red handed by Mr. Charter!
During September 1962 a small girl on her first visit to a service in Alphington Church caught sight of the Eagle on the lectern and said, 'Look Daddy, there's a Quack-Quack!'
In the Winter of 1963 many pipes in villager's lofts had frozen. One church member had climbed into his loft to fix his pipes but when he returned to climb down out of his loft he found his ladder had disappeared!
At the end of 1970 when work on the church was being completed a gentleman was walking through the church yard with a basket full of bottles when suddenly he heard a stern voice from on high saying, 'put it down and leave it there'! The gentleman thought that it was the almighty disapproving of his habits. He was about to put down the basket of bottles and make for safety when he looked up. The stern voice had come from one of the workers high up on the scaffolding, looking down on everything going on below and feeling very thirsty! No one is sure what happened to the basket of bottles!
In 1971 the Rector, Rev. W. Hammond Croft asked the children attending Sunday School, 'you all know our church is called St Michael and All Angels, can anyone tell me who St Michael was?' There was dead silence. Revd. Hammond Croft turned to the nearest child and said, 'Janet, do you know?' The girl answered, 'No sir, but I should like to because his name is on the inside of my knickers!'
Mr. Patton was directing the Nativity Play and he said to one of the boys, 'over here, stupid, you are one of the wisemen!'
The villager who was the last person to have the job of winding the church clock up by hand twice a week remembers that in the winter the church was so cold and pitch black inside.
When ever the Rector Mark Bate was asked to you like living in Exeter he always answered, 'I don't live in Exeter, I live in Alphington'.
A Notable Christening
During the 1790s a foundling was found in a porch way in the village of Alphington. He was taken in and christened on the 13th April 1794 in Alphington Church. He was given the name of Thomas Alphington.
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick