Past Rectors at St Mary's Church

Laurence Meering - Biography, in his own words

Our Rector preceding Rev. Simon Faulks was Rev. Laurence Meering. Rector here between 2007 and 2014, a popular man of the people, Laurence, wanted nothing more than to be able to continue his work showing people something of Jesus, and, once he retired, to immerse himself more into the community and less in the trappings of inevitable administration. Let us hope that retirement to South Petherton allows Laurence & Cathie to continue their valuable ministry.
Renowned for his sense of humour, Laurence was a spirited member of the Players, performing, writing and hosting for many of the performances.
One of his ambitions for the church – a new loo, will remain a challenge for the next Rector!
Here we see Laurence outside our aging, but beautiful St. Mary’s Church.

Laurence Meering, Rector

Photograph supplied by Barry Agnew

"I was educated at St Lawrence College in Ramsgate (my father’s old school – he named me after the school, but got the spelling wrong. The education in his time can’t have been brilliant). The junior English master who joined at the same time produced a school Shakespeare play, which gave me a love of acting and a love of the Bard. In King Lear, I played Cornwall, who in Act 3 gouges out the Duke of Gloucester’’s eye. I had a lamb’s eye hidden in my palm, which I was meant to drop and squelch underfoot. But in one performance, I didn’t quite tread on it accurately enough – the eye, instead of squashing, squirted out across the stage and into the lap of a lady on the front row. (I was getting prepared for Mursley Players even then).

One important event that also happened during these years was that I became a Christian. – I went to a summer camp in the Quantock Hills, run by Scripture Union. The first year, I didn’t really listen to the talks at all, but in my second summer, I began wondering why all these helpers were giving up time and energy for us teenagers, and so I began to listen. – It made me realise that this Jesus was a real person, a person who loved me and had died for me. It became a simple mental and spiritual transaction to say – yes, Jesus, I want to follow you ; will you have me in your kingdom?

After Uni. (I did a degree in Biochemistry, which I found incredibly boring), I went into teaching: Maths and Chemistry, at King Edwards school at Bath. This was also the time when I married my university sweetheart, Cathie. We had actually met on top of a bus, on the way to a Christian event in Manchester; she was the daughter of a Devon milk farmer, so our marriage took place in a remote country village church, smaller even than St Nicholas at Little Horwood.

Gradually, we realised that God was calling us into ministry, and I trained at Trinity College Bristol, while Cathie looked after our two very lively sons. (One of them is now repeating history – having taught Maths for several years, he is training at the same college).

Since then I have served in several parishes – middle-class suburbia (Bristol) – we were living in a tiny curate’s house, made more squashed by the arrival of our third son -, a town swamped by armed forces personnel (Portsmouth), deep country (Devon), working class suburbia (Crawley), and market town (Aylesbury), before ending up here in Mursley. As a curate in Bristol, I was waiting for the arrival of a funeral at the church gates, when a Rolls-Royce drove up, and the actor David Tomlinson, of Mary Poppins and Mursley fame, emerged – he was looking for the grave of WG Grace’s mother. He wasn’t very pleased that I had to shoo him out of the way or he would have been trapped in by the hearse.

What have I enjoyed about being a clergyman? – I have the opportunity of going into the houses of everyone from the highest (almost) to the lowest in the land, as well as ministering to people in hospitals, prisons, on board ship, in council chambers, before a magistrate, in a Tesco car park. I love telling people the story of Jesus, and showing how it can apply to their lives (if you want to know, just ask me!). I particularly love the opportunity of going into schools – next year, the first children I baptised when I came here will be moving into Year 3. Has it been worth it? – As one clergyman said – the pay isn’t brilliant, but the fringe benefits are out of this world! I have been able to serve a God who I believe loves each one of us, and to serve the people among whom I live. It’s a fantastic reason to get out of bed each morning!"

Laurence Meering retired on 1st June 2014.

John Kinchin Smith

Laurence Meering, Rector

"When Caroline and I moved to Mursley with our four children in 1992, we had been married eleven years and I had been ordained for ten. Our children, Joe, Eleanor, Sam and David were at that time aged 8, 6, 4 and 18 months. We remained in Mursley for fourteen years and so it really became the place our children continue to think of as ‘home’. Those fourteen years were mostly a very happy time for us all. The old Rectory was a delightfully large and scruffy house, ideal for a young family; and the large garden saw games of football, cricket and croquet as well as being the venue for the Church Fete.

It’s hard to highlight particular moments or events during our time in Mursley. We were very blessed that the St Mary’s Church Family included several other families with children of similar ages to our own. Most of these have continued to keep in touch and remain friends. All of our children flourished at Mursley Village School. Church fetes and Harvest Festivals were always a real delight in all of the villages of the benefice and in those days the sun seemed to shine for the church fetes every year. (The one exception was when the Mursley Church Fete was opened by the new head teacher at Mursley School, Hazel Barrett, and it poured for the whole afternoon). Our children always loved the Harvest Festival auctions when they were allowed to bid with dad’s money. Our home was filled during October with boxes of fruit and vegetables. Another highlight was the annual church holiday club in August which grew one year to include over one hundred children.

Our time in Mursley seemed to mark the passing of an era, with the arrival of personal computers, satellite TV and smart phones – which we now take for granted. It seemed to be a less sophisticated time, with Coronation Sports and the Horticultural Show being significant for almost every child in the village. One of the funerals I conducted quite early on was for Sally Geeves, aged 93, who was the last person in Mursley to lay out the dead. She lived in the last of the Beechams Cottages still rented with only a cold tap in the kitchen, no bathroom and an outside toilet. It’s impossible to remember every child I baptised, every couple I married or funeral I conducted – but each one was special. Many of those I buried had become personal friends, including David Tomlinson whose burial took place in his garden! One of my happiest memories is working at my desk on a Friday summer’s evening with the window open, listening to bell ringing practice. There was something timeless about it and so quintessentially English!

Our years in Mursley were not all sweetness and light, of course. The last four years were marked by our youngest becoming very seriously ill with ME at the age of 11 - thankfully now fully recovered. For three months Caroline and David were in hospital in London while I was at home with the three oldest and still working full-time. The people of Mursley and the other villages of the benefice were incredibly caring and supportive throughout David’s illness and, for the three months Caroline and David were in hospital in London, a cooked dinner was delivered to the Rectory every day, Monday to Friday.

In 2006 we moved from Mursley to Chinnor in Oxfordshire. In 2013 I retired from full-time parish ministry and we moved to Gorleston in Norfolk. Caroline and I continue to be very involved in the life and ministry of our local church and our children have grown up and flown the nest. But our memories of Mursley and of St Mary’s, and of the people of the other villages of the benefice, will always have a very special place in our hearts."

List of Past Rectors

1239John de Eston1534Alexander Hogston
1242Robert de St. Dennis1556Edmund Hodson
1275Thomas Irkenbury1580William Smith
1276William de Grafton1621Robert Wallis
1312John de Bedbourne1639John Burton
1370Henry de Outby1639Thomas Kyffin
1371Stephen Coteley1644John Gardner
1371Lawrence Allerthorpe1683Robert Armistead
1372Thomas de Evere1695John Armistead
1372John Oussel1714Edward Gataker
1379Wallier de Olson1727Cornelius Crawford
1379William Boys1733Benjamin Langley
1379John de Blackfordsby1789Thomas Rivitt
1391John Werdeyn1790George Wagner
1391John Lewys1800Thomas Pinnock
1392Roger Mason1831Charles Childers
1394Thomas Pike1833Thomas Horne
1397William Bacon1851Warren Harries
1410William Clethe1860John Cross
1413John Willonshest1885Joseph Bradshaw
1417William Symond1889Octavius Selby-Lownndes
1434Thomas Alderwerde1925John Tredennick
1434Richard Cloughton1938George Oliver
1438William Kirkby1956Heber Wood
1469Thomas Grey1970Peter van de Kasteele
1475John Lumbrey1981Stuart Wilmot
1489John Clayton1992John Kinchin-Smith
2007Laurence Meering