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Acorn Lodge Shropshire
Acorn Lodge Shropshire   Acorn Lodge Shropshire

March News

This year, the whole of the month of March falls in the season of Lent, so it is perhaps a good time to take a look at our local churches and at the religious festivals that have played a part in village life past and present.


Cross, Hope Bagot

Our modern celebration of Mothers’ Day (22nd of March this year) has its roots in the much older Christian tradition of Mothering Sunday. It’s the fourth Sunday in Lent, or exactly 3 weeks before Easter, depending on how you look at it. This was originally the day on which people would go to a service at their Mother Church. The expression “Mother Church” seems to have been interpreted differently over the years. The Mother Church for this area is Hereford Cathedral, since we are in the Diocese of Hereford. For the immediate local area, the Mother Church of our Team Ministry is St. Mary’s in Tenbury Wells.

St. John the Baptist, Hope Bagot

If we turn the clock back before the railway age and modern transport, it would have been impossible for poor working people to get to Hereford, and Tenbury Wells would have been a very long walk. So the “Mother Church” would have been the most senior church in the accessible area, or else the church where they had been baptised or attended services as children. As time passed, the custom arose of domestic servants being given the Sunday off to attend their Mother Church, and gradually this became the day on which those servants would go and visit their own actual mother. They would pick some Spring flowers on the way, and those who had the ability to do so would traditionally bake their mother a Simnel Cake as a gift on the day. (The rules of Lent were relaxed for Mothering Sunday). The local big houses such as Hope Court, Whitton Court, Bitterley Court and Easton Court would have employed huge numbers of people in service. It should be remembered that there was until quite recently no such thing as regular time off, and servants “lived in” (that is, they lived in the property that employed them), so that they had no opportunity to see their family otherwise. Some of the oldest villagers when we came to live here would have remembered the old Mothering Sunday traditions well.

Many of our local churches are very ancient, and stand on sites that were holy ground even before the buildings that now stand on them existed. The older churches in our area are mainly dedicated to St. John the Baptist (Hope Bagot, Nash, Doddington) or St. Mary (Whitton, Caynham, Bitterley, Tenbury Wells).


St. Mary's Whitton

At the churches dedicated to St. Mary, Lady Day – the Annunciation of the Lord – would have been a supremely important festival. It comes on March 25th, and is the date given that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that the child she would bear would be the Son of God. It is of course still an important date in the Christian Calendar and is marked by all churches, not just those dedicated to St. Mary. Lady Day was important in other ways too, as it was one of the four “Quarter Days” on which rents fell due. This would have been viewed with varying degrees of dread, depending on how your farm had prospered – or failed to do so!

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