Life Events - Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals
Please do contact James Campbell (the Rector) at The Rectory, Withyham
Email James Campbell
Baptism marks the beginning of the journey of faith and can be undertaken at any age.
The service speaks of the need for repentance and the receiving forgiveness - symbolised by the washing away of sin with water – the undertaking to turn away from sin and renouncing all that is wrong.
When an infant or child is baptised, the parents and godparents make certain promises on the child’s behalf. To make these promises does not mean that parents have to be regular church-goers, but it does mean that they intend to bring up their children within the Christian Faith.
Families are encouraged to hold baptisms during Family Services (on the 2nd and 4th Sunday most months at 9.45am at Withyham, particularly if the family live locally.
However, it is recognised that this is not always easy, with families perhaps travelling a long distance to attend. Services at other times are therefore possible - often at 12.30pm or 3.00pm on a Sunday. In these cases, there is no one else present; the organist and choir are not normally available, but a hymn can be sung using the Church PA system.
It is also possible to have a baptism at Blackham.
Prior to the service the Rector, James Campbell, will meet the parents, either in their home or at the Rectory – whichever is more convenient. He will take the names of the godparents and go through the service carefully.
For infants and children, there are often two godparents of the same sex and one of the opposite sex; however, there can be more or less than that number.
A Service of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child is also available for those not ready to make the promises that are asked in the Baptism Service.
In the case of adults, whilst baptism alone is quite possible, it is more normal practice for it to take place within the context of Confirmation.
There is no charge for baptism. However, a plate is left at the back of the Church for any donations towards the upkeep of the building.
In the C of E, you can be married if you live in the parish or have connections with the parish. Since 2009, it is possible to be married in Church if you live outside the Parish and do not have connections with it if certain criteria are met.
Note that ‘the Parish’ here refers to the Ecclesiastical (Church) Parish of Withyham and Blackham.
The Civil (Parliamentary) Parish of Withyham is much bigger and includes that part of Groombridge which is in East Sussex (sometimes known as New Groombridge) as well as St. John’s, Crowborough (the latter two parishes formed part of Withyham Church Parish until the late Nineteenth Century).
Many people wish to be married in a Church with which they have family connections.
However, the 2009 Marriage Measure widened the scope to permit marriage in the parish church if one of the couple:
was baptised (christened) in the parish;
was prepared for confirmation in the parish;
has at any time lived in the parish for a period of at least six months;
have regularly attended the Church for a period of six months in the past;
In addition, it is possible to attend church regularly (once a month) for six months prior to Calling of Banns (an announcement in Church at the beginning of a service).
Where a couple are British citizens but living abroad, they will need to apply for a Common Licence.
If one of a couple is a Non-EU citizen, they will have to apply for a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate (SRC).
Occasionally couples are granted an Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Licence.
The above three categories are the exception: the normal legal preliminary to being married in church is the Calling of Banns – called on three Sundays within three months of the wedding.
If one of a couple has been married before and been divorced, that does not preclude being married in church, but an additional discussion has to take place with the Rector, James Campbell.
Following a preliminary visit to book a date and gather essential information, James normally has two sessions at the Rectory lasting about an hour and a half each:
at the first, the Order of Service is discussed, and an online Marriage Inventory completed; at the second session, the logistics are revisited, the words of the service looked at and the inventory discussed. There is a rehearsal in church, often on the Thursday before a Saturday wedding.
The Church supply an organist, choir – if wanted – and bell ringers – again, if wanted.
Some couples have their wedding reception at Buckhurst Park, combining that with being married St. Michael’s Church.
Contact for further details: Buckhurst Park
The Church of England does not permit the marriage of same-sex couples in Church.
The costs of holding a wedding in church are standard C of E fees, to which have to be added the cost of organist, choir, verger, bell ringers, heating and marriage inventory.
Flowers are arranged separately with Mollie Packer or an outside arrangers can be used. Four arrangements need to remain in situ in the Church.
It is possible for clergy, organist or choir to be friends or relatives and to be involved in the service.
Do contact James Campbell for any initial questions and date availability.
The death of a loved one is always a traumatic experience – and it is closely followed by the need to make decisions about a funeral when one may not be feeling like it.
The decision has to be made whether to have the deceased buried or cremated, and whether to have a service in a Church or at a Crematorium; their intentions and whether anything is specified in their Will may not be known.
The Churchyards at both Withyham and Blackham are ‘open’ i.e. there is space for more burials (some churchyards are ‘closed’ - i.e. full-up; in that case burials take place in a Cemetery run by the local Council.
The law is that anyone either living in a parish or dying in a parish has the right to be buried in a churchyard; otherwise it is up to the Vicar/Rector. Often families wish to bury the deceased near relatives
in a churchyard with which the family have been associated, perhaps for many generations. Here we have space and are therefore able to adopt a generous approach to any requests.
For those wanting a burial, a service in church immediately before is normal. The service could be in another church and just the burial take place here.
For those seeking cremation, the service can take place just at the crematorium; or there can be a service in church before and then just the committal takes place at the Crematorium; or the
cremation takes place first – often attended only by closer family members – and then a service in Church follows later in the day or on another day. The latter is technically a Service of Thanksgiving (Memorial Service) – the funeral having taken place at the crematorium itself; or this may be held several weeks or months after the death. A Thanksgiving Service can be held at Withyham even if the funeral took place elsewhere.
Diocese of Chichester’s regulations cover headstones, tablets etc; in churchyards – their design, size, type of stone and wording. The Chichester Diocese Churchyard Regulations can be downloaded from the Diocesan
Website: Chichester Diocese
The erection of memorials is normally dealt with in liaison with the Funeral Directors, but have to be approved in advance by the Rector.
The Parochial Church Council maintain the Churchyards, arranging for the grass to be cut regularly etc; There are also regulations as to what can be placed on graves.
Burials are usually next-in-line – at the east end of Withyham Churchyard and the west side of Blackham Churchyard – or close to existing relatives of possible.
Ashes (cremated remains) are now interred at Withyham beside the path towards the east end of the Churchyard; at Blackham, inside the lych gate on the left.
The formal reservation of grave spaces within the churchyards is possible.
The choir are usually available to accompany the singing in Church.
It is possible to involve a member of the clergy or an organist or choir known to the bereaved family in a service.
The nearest Crematorium is the Kent & Sussex Crematorium in Tunbridge Wells:
01892 523894 / 540419.
The most frequently-used firms of local funeral directors are:
Tester & Jones – Crowborough 01892 611811
Paul Bysouth – Crowborough 01892 655000
R. Medhurst – Hartfield 018923 770253
& East Grinstead 01342 315880
The costs relating to the church, burials etc; are standard fees for the whole of C of E: organist, choir, verger and heating are in addition. This is all arranged by the funeral directors.
In Withyham, the Dorset Arms (dorset-arms.co.uk) and the Kings’ Hall (Village Hall) are both local venues favoured for refreshments after funerals in Church; in Blackham, the Village Hall is opposite.
Kings’ Hall, Withyham – Mrs M. Stafford (01892 770035)
Village Hall, Blackham – Mrs P. Hayes (01892 740574)
It is unwise to fix a date for a funeral before liaising with the other interested parties.
The Rector, James Campbell, is very happy to discuss any arrangements, including with those who wish to plan their own service.
He is available to help families plan what they want at a service – choice of hymns and readings, who will give a tribute etc; - whether the service is held in church or at the crematorium.