A cake in the shape of the church and made of gingerbread was just one of the birthday presents presented today to Mayfield’s tallest inhabitant – its church tower.
The cake, baked by a parishioner, was the centrepiece at a party, which, with a service of celebration, was held to mark the 500th anniversary of the Gothic tower.
A miniature replica of the tower, in wood, made by another resident, was another ‘present’.
The tower was built in 1515 with money provided by the then lord of the manor Thomas Rollestone. The Rollestones had been contributing to the enlargement of the original Norman church for over a hundred years at this point, and would do for another seventy years.
Amazingly, one of the family’s descendants was able to attend today’s ceremonies.
However, it may be that, while the tower looks impressive to us, Thomas Rollestone himself may not have been best pleased with it: the inscription on the west face reads ‘Ainsy et mieux peult ester’, which translates as ‘thus it is, and better could it be’!
St John The Baptist Church has a thriving community behind it, and repairs and maintenance are in good order. Weathered stone faces on the south side exterior window-arches are next in line for restoration.
Fund-raising among friends and neighbours is supported by gentle attempts at marketing. The anniversary memorabilia you see in the photo is limited edition only: contact the treasurer for more details of how to acquire your own…
However, church-crawlers will be saddened to hear that the church, even though it is Grade 1 listed – is not open most of the time at the moment.
There is some consolation to this in the fact that the interior is very plain – whitewashed and with no stained-glass. The Reformers clearly had a lasting effect here. Nevertheless, the Norman stone carving is of note.
There is a key-holder though – see the church’s contacts page.
Thanks to MR for contributing this article
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