Wedding Dress Exhibition

close up photo of person holding bouquet

Photo by Lina Kivaka on

On the weekend of the 15th and 16th June we will be holding an exhibition of wedding dresses in Easthorpe Church.

We will be asking people to display their wedding dresses for the weekend .  Please let us know if you would like to participate.

The Church will be open from 10 to 5 on the Saturday and 10 till 4 on the Sunday, when we will close the weekend with tea and a short service of thanksgiving for marriage. Refreshments will be served both days.

We will also need manikins for the displays, if you can help by lending one or more, we would be very grateful.  Please contact Sue Collins 01206 211294, 07919948955 or email or Julie Worsam 07887690062




Here be dragons (January 2019 article)

Reverend Lydia Smith writes ….

In old maps (at least in fiction) here be dragons is the phrase that identifies unknown and possibly dangerous territory.  There are two extant maps from the early 1500s that contain the actual words hic sunt dracones (Latin for here are dragons).  But plenty of others warn about the dangers inherent in travel – sea monsters drawn in the oceans, mythical beasts on the land.  Another 10th century map is rather more expansive: “this region of Zugis is in Africa; it is rather fertile, but on the other hand it is full of beasts and serpents,” it notes. 

Beginning a new year can make us feel as though there may be trouble ahead.  Sometimes we have a good idea of what those challenges are: treatment for illness, big exams, moving house, a new job or retirement.

Equally, we may be facing 2019 with a sense that things are about to change in ways we can’t quite imagine, that we are heading, like the users of those medieval maps, into the unknown.  As I write the prospect for the UK in 2019 is a bit daunting.  The Brexit negotiations are in a very delicate state.  Warnings from all sides indicate that – however MPs vote next week – we are in for a bumpy ride.

The season of Epiphany begins on 6 January, and as it marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas, it also ushers in a new time of clarity.  Epiphany means just that: a sudden realization, a lightbulb moment.  In churchly terms, this is about waking up to the presence of God in the world, in the person of Jesus: the knowledge that we are not alone in the uncertainties of life.  Some of the old hymns talk about three miracles, three signs to show that God is with us.  They are, first, the magi, travellers from afar, drawn to worship the new-born king.  Then there is Jesus’ baptism, a sign of God’s solidarity with us in all the mess and muddle of human life.  And finally, the wedding at Cana, where Jesus demonstrates God’s love and generosity, turning water into wine.

May we all begin this new year with confidence as we are reminded of God’s loving presence in our world.

Best wishes


Picture: Map by Smalllike from the Noun Project

Christmas Services

Sunday 23rd December

We may not be able to offer a snowy Christmas scene this year but we’re happy to suggest you come along to our services.

6pm – Traditional Nine Lessons and Carols Carol Service at St. Mary’s, Easthorpe, with the Chorus Profugus Choir.  Come see our Christmas decorations and enjoy a good sing with seasonal refreshments afterwards

Monday 24th December

5pm – Crib Service at St. Michael’s Copford – with Christmas Carols.  Suitable for children.

11.30pm  – Midnight Mass at St. Mary’s, Layer Marney, with Christmas Carols.

Tuesday 25th December

9am Traditional Holy Communion (Book of Common Prayer) with Christmas Carols at St. Mary’s, Easthorpe.

Follow the Star (December 2018 article)

Reverend Lydia Smith writes ….

One of the great joys of living in the country is looking up into the night sky and seeing (when there’s no cloud cover) a huge array of stars.  Arriving home from a meeting last night, under a clear sky, I realised to my delight that I had followed the constellation of Orion through the Essex countryside.

For me, as for many of us now, a starry sky is simply a focus for our curiosity and enjoyment.  But for our ancestors, it meant so much more.  Before there was satnav and ordnance survey maps, the stars were our best way of navigating.  Of the 6000 stars that can be seen with the naked eye, there are 58 that people for centuries have used to work out the way to go. 

In the stories the Bible tells about Jesus’ birth, one very bright star has a big role to play.  The wise men (likely astronomers of their day), as Matthew’s gospel tells it, identify a new star.  They understand it as a sign that a new king has arrived, one who they should honour with a visit and some presents.  So, they set out with their symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, to follow the star.  Although they get a bit lost along the way, the star does eventually lead them to the place where the new king is: there, ahead of them went the star they had seen at its rising (Matthew 2: 9).

We may no longer search the skies for meaning in the way the wise men did.  And not so many of us need to use the stars for navigation.  But we still search for meaning and direction in our lives.  As we come to the end of another year, we may take time to reflect on the road our life has taken and consider where next year will lead us.  Christians believe that God by his Spirit guides us, just as he guided the wise men, throughout our lives.  And at the heart of the Christmas story is the promise that God is with us always on our journey.

May you have a peace and joy this Christmas


P.S. If you’d like to explore the Christmas story a bit more, the Church of England is offering Christmas reflections direct to your email inbox – go to to sign up.

Advent & Christmas Services 2018

#FollowTheStar logo version 1 RBG

#FridayFacts – Here are the details of our Advent & Christmas Services – don’t forget to put some in your diary! (All at St. Mary’s unless indicated otherwise).

And why not go to to sign up for a daily email to take the life-changing Christmas journey. Each one includes a picture, a short Bible passage, a simple prayer and an action to reflect on.

6pm Sunday 23/12 – Carol Service – traditional Christmas Carols and readings.

5pm Monday 24/12 – #FollowtheStar to Bethlehem in this family friendly Crib Service at St. Michael & All Angels Copford.

11.30pm Monday 24/12 – Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Mary’s Layer Marney with Christmas Carols.

9am Tuesday 25/12 – Christmas Day Communion.

9.30am Sunday 30/12 – 1st Sunday of Christmas – 5 Parishes Communion at St. Mary’s Layer Breton.

Last Post (November 2018 article)

Reverend Lydia Smith writes

It’s in the key of B flat or E flat and it was once the sound that marked the end of the military day – the signal that the final sentry post had been inspected and the camp was secure for the night.  But for over a century and especially in the hundred years since the end of WW1, the Last Post’s mournful tones have come to mean something rather different.

Robert Graves, the poet who served as a captain in the Royal Welch Fusiliers through in WW1, described the Last Post as “a call of high romance” in his poem of the same name.  As he hears it, the soldier imagines the bugle call being played for him at his own death and prays that it will not, prays urgently that he will be spared.

And for us now, it’s a call not to rest but remembrance.  On Sunday 11th November across the country the sound will echo out into the chilly air, reminding us of the lives lost during the first “great” war and others since.

While in 2018 we will be both remembering and regretting the conflict that marred the early years of the last century, we may also remember those closer to us whom we have lost.  Every year churches hold services at this time to recollect all those we know who have died.  At St John’s Church in Layer de la Haye, we’re inviting everyone in the five parishes of Layer de la Haye, Layer Breton with Birch, Layer Marney, Copford and Easthorpe to a special service where we recall by name those we love who are no longer with us.  After we’ve heard the names read out we also light a candle to give thanks for their lives.

If there’s someone you’d like remembered by name at this service, please get in touch with Lydia on 01206 738759 or by email at  The All Souls Service of Remembrance, to which you are warmly invited, takes place at St John’s Church Layer de la Haye on 4 November at 4pm.  The service will last about 45 minutes and there will be a chance to chat over a cup of tea or coffee afterwards.

Best wishes


PS There is a service for Remembrance Sunday, 11th November in Layer de la Haye at 10.50am at the Cross and at 7pm, together with places across the country, the beacon will be lit (also at the cross).

Image © Crown Copyright 2017 Photographer: WO2 Daniel Harmer RLC; Image ARMYHQ-2017-087-Remembrance Bugler-054-Stonehe.jpg from

Eyes down (October 2018 article)

hands using mobile phones

Reverend Lydia Smith writes ….

Listening to the news this morning, I heard about a suggestion that road signs be placed at pavement level, so that phone-using pedestrians wouldn’t miss the edge of the pavement.  Shaun Helman, of the UK based Transport Research Laboratory has suggested there could be text walking lanes and pavement level lights to guide people at pedestrian crossings.

Although it was a fun item on a relatively quiet news day, the message struck a chord.  Not so much on the merit of the ideas, but because it reminded me that we are still accommodating ourselves to this change in how we live.  Hence the debate in schools as to whether smartphones should be allowed.

This revolutionary bit of technology is a fact of life now.  Smartphones bring many benefits: you can keep in touch, celebrate the good moments, listen to music and play games all on one tiny device.  And – for those with a commuter in their household – phones can remove the great uncertainty about where the train carrying your loved one has got to: the Find Friends app has made life much simpler at the Vicarage.

But still, as we learn how best to deal with these constant companions, some of us may need a reminder to look up from our phones every now and then.  And not just to make sure we attend suitably to road traffic.

As summer turns to autumn, why not make some time to look away from the screen and appreciate the people near you and the world around.  Harvest festivals in our churches are great chance to notice and give thanks for the beautiful place we live in.

Best wishes




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