Exhibition of Past Weddings Highlights Church’s Role in Family Life

Exhibition of Past Weddings Highlights Church’s Role in Family Life

An exhibition has been held at All Saints Church in Awbridge near Romsey to celebrate all the weddings and baptisms that have been held there over the years.

Each window ledge of the church was filled with photos and mementos, with the oldest dating back to 1937, along with descriptions of the service.  The church was also decorated with ribbons, flowers and bunting, a cherished christening dress and wedding dress. 

PCC Secretary Katie Walton came up with the idea for the display while researching her family history and realised how much the church had featured in her family occasions.

Her family have lived in Awbridge since 1938 and three generations were married at All Saints.   Her grandparents had their wedding at the church in December 1952, her parents in 1972 and Katie and her husband followed in their footsteps in 1993.  She was also baptised at All Saints. 

Katie was interested to see if other people in the village had a similar history and put out an appeal for contributions.  She was surprised and pleased to find so many people with family connections with the church.

Katie With Mum Pam

People couldn’t come forward quickly enough with photos and memories of their special days.  We’ve had some brilliant stories of times that have gone wrong or right.  We had one bride whose car got caught behind the bin lorry and so she was late to her wedding and another wedding where the organist didn’t turn up so the vicar had to officiate and play the piano at the same time. People had wonderful memories of Awbridge Church and how it looked and how it felt to them and we wanted to share those moments. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of churches especially rural parishes, you could literally fill the building with memories of people who have lived there over the years.

Katie Walton, PCC Secretary

The exhibition demonstrates how the church has played a central role in family life, with photos of babies christened at All Saints and later photos of them marrying there. It highlights the changing fashions but with the church remaining the focal point of celebrations.

Robert and Peggy Milsom were among the many people who donated photos and cards from their wedding in 1973.  Peggy was a bank clerk and used to sing in the church choir and Robert was a lorry driver.   They’ve now moved away from the village but returned to see the exhibition.  “It’s fantastic and beautifully done and lovely to return to All Saints and remember our day.”

The exhibition was held over the bank holiday weekend with a special service taking place on the Sunday dedicated to the event. It was a time to think about the meaning of baptisms and weddings and to remember loved ones no longer here. 

Katie’s Mum, Pam Perry said: “I’d like to think that people who visited this exhibition can see how the church is so central to family life.  Not only with christenings and weddings and burials, but it can also play such an important part in a community. The church provides a wonderful history to pass down the generations and people can look back and see the trail of where they have come from.  Events like this encourage people to maintain those generational links”.

Coffee, teas and cakes were also available with money raised going towards the upkeep of the 148 year old building.  Rector Tom Benson said:

“It’s a fantastic idea and I think it reminds us of the important role of the parish church in a local community.  It’s not just for Sundays, it’s for all the other events and there’s a sense of community ownership of this place. As vicars and PCCs,  we are custodians of a lot of community history and we need to remember to treat that with respect and treasure it. This is one of the joys of parish ministry, whether it’s a big town church or small country parish, it will touch thousands upon thousands of lives and that’s incredibly valuable. The Church is part of the fabric of a community and is to be treasured.  The exhibition reminds people that the church is alive and breathing and a living entity.”