Church celebrates Freedom Day with a Floral Fair

2008-10-02 08:05

ST Mary's Church in Richmond is hosting a Floral Fair over the Freedom Day weekend, on Friday and Saturday. The beautiful Herbert Baker designed church will be filled with flowers and a quilting exhibition and there will be stalls of all kinds in the grounds.

The church is the oldest consecrated Anglican church in KwaZulu-Natal - the Rector, Frankie Thacker, explaining that while there might be older wooden churches, wooden churches could not be consecrated. St Mary's was consecrated in 1853 by Bishop Colenso but was extensively redesigned and rebuilt in 1909 to a Herbert Baker design, with Cecil Rhodes making a donation of £400 towards the cost. When Rhodes first arrived in South Africa, he lived with his brother on a cotton farm in the Umkomaas district.

The church has seen all kinds of events and action in its century-and-a-half of existence, with ammunition being stored in the tower at one stage and, more recently, sheltering refugees at the height of the violence in Richmond in the nineties. Now the tower holds nothing more sinister than the eight chimes that were brought from England more than a century ago.

The church has three chapels in the area and also runs two schools, both started at the height of the violence, when pupils had been forced out of their homes and, for safety's sake, were unable to travel to school. The Bernard Mizeki Primary School in Richmond now has 248 pupils, while the pre-primary has 80.

The church grounds were once the home of St Mary's College for Young Women, which in 1883 moved to Pietermaritzburg and merged with St Anne's. When they left, they donated stained-glass windows to the church. “Funds raised by the Freedom weekend event will go towards the restoration of some of the glass,” says Thacker - and in a continuation of the links between the church and the school, the St Anne's choir and instrumentalists will also perform at 2 pm on Friday.

The popular steel band from St Nicholas will give a recital on Friday morning and the church will be filled with floral art displays from churches and organisations around the province. Each arranger has been given a quotation on the theme of Freedom Day.

Also on Friday, there will be a market, with a wide range of stalls, many of which are regulars at Durban's Essenwood market. There will be cheeses, olive oil, home-made pasta, wrought-iron work, toys, clothes brought in from the East, all kinds of jewellery, indigenous plants, fresh vegetables and flowers. On Saturday, there will be a smaller market, but there will also be floral and quilting demonstrations. Freshly baked scones and crumpets will be available, along with tea, percolated coffee and light lunches. There will be a jumping castle for the younger visitors.

The quilt display and demonstration is being organised by the Richmond Quilters' guild and the demonstration takes place at 2 pm on Saturday. There will also be a display of work by local artists.

On Sunday, to round off the weekend's activities, there will be an ecumenical service at 9 am.

The entry fee is R25, which covers both days, with accompanied children getting in free. Once in, all the demonstrations, concerts and exhibitions are free. For further information, contact Thacker at 033 212 2252 or 072 797 5113, or e-mail beeswax@netactive.co.za

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