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Ghosts emerging

23 August 2013

AS GHOSTS of the Civil War they came, fresh from re-enacting the siege of Brampton Bryan Castle, in Hereford diocese, to St Barnabas's. They were led by Brilliana, Lady Harley, who, with her children, had defended the Castle against the Royalists, who had already destroyed the surrounding village, including the church.

Puritans they may have been, but their ghosts processed to the present St Barnabas's for a holy communion service from the Book of Common Prayer, led by the current Rector, the Revd Mike Catling. The sermon was given by the Revd Keith Berry-Davies, a retired RAF chaplain, dressed in period with a Laudian cap.

The siege that these members of the English Civil War Society were commemorating was so long and bitter that Harley died soon after from pneumonia, presumably brought on by the privations of the siege. The King's troops came back a second time, when the Castle was finally surrendered, and the Harley children were taken prisoner.

The present St Barnabas's was rebuilt in 1656 to replace the medieval church that had been destroyed. It is one of the Select Company of Six churches - the only ones known to have been constructed during the Commonwealth, joining those at Berwick-upon-Tweed; Guyhirn, in Cambridgeshire; Plaxtol, in Kent; Poplar, in London; and Staunton Harold, in Leicestershire.

Should any others claim the same heritage, the Select Company would like to hear from them (email agloag@btinternet.com), with the idea of forming a linkage between the Churches of the English Commonwealth.

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