IT IS three miles long by half a mile wide - not so very unusual
- but the resident population of the parish is only about 30. Lundy
Island was created a new parish of the diocese of
Exeter last December, but the celebration of its
new status waited until 1 May, when MS Oldenburg could be
back in service after its winter break.
More than half the 64 passengers on board the vessel were bound
for the celebratory service, includingthe Bishop of Crediton, the
Rt Revd Nicholas McKinnel; the Archdeacon of Barnstaple, the Ven.
David Gunn-Johnson; the Vicar of Lundy, the Revd Shirley Henderson;
members of the Lundy Society; and a band of bell-ringers.
It was a damp and choppy crossing - too misty to see the estuary
scenery as they left Bideford, or the island itself as they
approached, and most of the visitors made straight for hot tea and
coffee at the Marisco Tavern, the only hostelry on the island.
Some of them were brave enough to explore the village, and to
visit the site of the first Celtic church and ancient burial site
on Lundy. Then, as locals had predicted, the mist rolled down over
the cliffs and disappeared, leaving the island in bright
The service, preceded by a peal of bells, was in the
late-Victorian Church of St Helena, which has replaced a medieval
chapel dedicated to St Elena.
It began with Miss Henderson's welcoming a congregation of about
70 people, and explaining about the new parish. Bishop McKinnel
gave the address, and then five Lundy residents were invited to
express their thoughts on what Lundy meant to them.
The church, consecrated in 1897, and battered as it is by
Atlantic storms, has been in a poor state for years, although the
interior has recently been greatly improved. Being a separate
parish, I'm told, will help in making grant applications for its