Zion 1957, 1958, 1959, High Bickington


Zion means, exposed to the sun, or a sunny place, and how true that is of our chapel at High Bickington. It is true in many ways. “Nothing is too good for God’s House” said an Indian Christian, and that is how we feel about it. The task before our people seemed gigantic, yet prayer changes things! The new organ is a fine instrument to lead us in the singing of our worship; worshipping our God in the beauty of holiness! Worship at Zion is that of the family of God’s children, but we are always seeking to bring the outsider inside, and to win that person for Christ. We look back and give thanks to God who has blessed us abundantly. We look forward to even greater things, always remembering………Saviour, if of Zion’s city,
I, through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy name.
Fading is the worldlings pleasure
All his boasted pomp and show,
Solid joys and lasting treasure,
None but Zion’s children know.



For thirty five years the singing at Zion was led by an American Organ, which now became so badly infected by wood worm that it had to be replaced. This was the report my Trustees heard at the Annual Meeting of 1957. It was decided to have a search around for a second hand instrument to replace it. I well remember one dear Brother saying at the meeting, with the advent of Television there must be plenty of good organs about now discarded for this new means of music. The search was on, calling in our present organ and piano tuner to try and accommodate us, but by early Autumn none had been discovered.


It was Tuesday afternoon, Pastor Ralph Yates calling on his visiting day, and during a ‘cup of tea,’ said, “Oh! by the way, I was passing through Taunton on Saturday, and I casually called into the organ works of Messers. Osmond and told them that they were changing their organ at High Bickington, and can you help them, without any obligation on their part?”

A few days later a large envelope arrived containing a progressive illustration of a suitable organ including a photograph, to be shortly followed with a box containing samples of material used in the manufacture of the instrument. Having previously written away for as much literature on Electronics, I was fascinated in making comparisons. The more one studied the leaflets, the more certain was the desire to replace our old Estey, with a new instrument.


We had just finished supper after one of our many money-raising concerts. Wandering aimlessly among the friends I was accosted by Mr George Bolt of Wotton Farm by these words: “How’s the organ situation?” “Well, nothing to report yet” I replied, mentioning how I had been very interested in studying the literature of new instruments but nothing can be done until the Trustees meet.

On parting he thrust into my hand a roll of notes (£25) “Something for your Organ Fund” he said. “But I have not got an Organ Fund” I replied. “Then keep it until you have one.” I left him and came home thrilled indeed.

On reading this little booklet the pronoun “I” will repeat quite often, but please forgive any boasting on my part; I was very fortunate to have been appointed Secretary and Treasurer by the Trustees. The unofficial Organ Fund totalled £52-10-0 by the time of the Annual Trustees Meeting of 1958.


It was a cold and wet February evening; a strong south-westerly gale was lashing against the sitting-room bay window. Being indisposed, the meeting was to be held at my home. I awaited the arrival of the Trustees with eagerness and anticipation. Would they endorse our actions to date? After dealing with all the formalities of an Annual Trustees Meeting, the final Resolution was: ‘That we replace our organ with an electrically-blown instrument, the kind to be governed by the amount of money we could raise.’ At this meeting the Trust and Organ fund was inaugurated. The organists, Mesdames C. Gooding, D. Pidler, G. Bolt and H. Symons were formed into a sub-committee to see and hear various instruments. after one of their many excursions a Director of Messers. Osmond came to Zion and said it was possible to have one of their manufacture. The committee were not quite unanimous in recommending the model they had seen, so the search continued.

Eventually an organ was heard away up in a Girls School at Williton in Somerset, and this was their choice. At our next meeting we agreed to install a Pipe Organ on July 4th the following year. It seemed a long while away to that date, but how the time flew.

Apart from the financial angle there seemed to be only one other major snag. If this particular model was selected a window would have to be removed and permission from the owner of the adjoining garden sought for some ground to build an organ chamber.

The owner, Mrs. M. A. Snell of Prospect House, although belonging to the Anglican faith had always been very sympathetic toward our cause by regularly supporting us at various functions. It was little wonder that on approaching her, the ground was soon made available – her parting words on my first visit being “Don’t let the purchase price worry you” – and the outcome was that the ground was ours for the nominal payment of one shilling. Our present and future congregations will never be able to over-estimate the value of the kind act of this gracious lady, another gift that cannot be measured by £ s. d.


It needs little imagination on the part of the reader to realise that from February 13th 1958 until July 4th 1959 there were several committee meetings, so that a lot of facts and figures must be disclosed.

Prayer, Planning and Giving was our battle cry, neither was sufficient by itself. Outside the Church on a piece of hard-board 4ft x 1ft a Barometer was drawn and marked in £25 divisions, and as the money was raised so the amount was recorded. Adjoining it was an organ pipe which had been converted to serve as a collection box, and this silent collector brought in over £5 the first year.

Every known scholar, old member, or worshipper at Zion was written to; the response was immediate and terrific. from as far away as America, Canada, London, Winchester, Worthing, the Isle of Wight, Bristol, Exeter and many other places too numerous to mention, came replies. these and our own worshipers, gave over £450 in 1958. The same year two jumble Sales raised £115 and other collections £70 enabling us to finish the year with a balance in hand of £720.

In August of 1958 a half-day excursion was arranged to visit the organ works and see a similar model as ours. any doubts regarding our choice were dispelled after this visit, and we then went on to Minehead to spend an enjoyable evening.

During January of 1959 the contractors commenced to build the Alcove and for several Sundays our Services were held in the Schoolroom. At last the builders had finished sufficiently to allow us to return for meetings and on entering the Church one soon realised that one of our most cherished dreams would soon become a reality.


At 2.45 p.m. on Saturday July 4th 1959 the trust Steward welcomed the Pastor’s wife and invited her to open the Sale of Work in the adjoining garage; this having been cleaned, and decorated with flowers for the occasion. the weather had lately not been too good, wet and cold, but we were blessed with wonderful weather and Mrs. Yates said in her opening remarks “This brilliant sunshine seems to have been made for this wonderful occasion.”

The Sunday-school Scholars were busy selling button-holes and good trade was done on the ice-cream stall. Ay 3.30 p.m. our Superintendent Minister Rev. E. Farr Basham and Pastor R. Yates led us into Church for the Dedication Service, the building having been re-decorated and the floor covered with a dark rich red carpet. The organ was presented on behalf of the Trustees for Dedication by Mr. W.E. Down of Exeter. Mr. Down being an old Organist, Trustee, Sunday-school Scholar and Teacher of ours. We were very pleased to welcome him home with his wife, son and daughter and their families. After prayer the organ was switched on and we sang “O for a thousand tongues to sing,” our guest organist being Mr. E. Blott of West Buckland School, who was assisted by one of his pupils.

The preacher was one of our leading Methodist laymen, Mr. David Foot-Nash of Plymouth. The Chapel and Schoolroom were filled to overflowing. Tea was served in the Day School and Church Hall, by kind permission of the Parochial Church Council. The lady pourers at the tea-tables had been recruited from various Chapels in our Circuit, thus allowing our own folks to partake in the Services.

During the interim period after tea, Mr. Blott gave a musical feast, and crowds were still arriving for the evening Thanksgiving Service long before the recital was over. Mr. Wreford Friend from Shirwell was our choice of Chairman, and how brilliantly he carried out his duties; his message being most heartening and full of his usual humour. Mr. David Foot-Nash again spoke to us, being ably supported by his charming wife who gave a challenging address. The Chapel and Schoolroom were packed, even moreso than in the afternoon. Forms were placed in the garage, on the entrance to the Chapel, and folk were sitting in the porch. loud speakers were used to relay the service. people in nearby houses sat in their doorways in the bright sunshine, sharing our celebrations. Mrs. Watts of Muddiford thrilled the congregation with two fine soprano solos.

One of the biggest thrills of my life, and one I shall cherish for a long time to come, was when I entered the pulpit to give the customary Treasurer’s Report. Looking back over the vast congregation, I reminded my listeners of a line from one of our hymns ‘Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious.’

The collection that evening was over £62-10-0. The service closed, but several friends remained behind to a late hour trying the organ; others adjourned to the Church Hall for supper. By this time the ladies’ committee were beginning to wilt, but their tiredness temporarily left them on hearing that over £230 had been raised that afternoon.

The next day we listened to two fine sermons; in the morning our “Super” was the preacher, taking for his text ‘David took an harp, and played it with his hand, so Saul was refreshed and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.’ The theme being the part music had played in our worship and still does. In the evening our Pastor took for his text ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish,’ this theme also being very appropriate.


I hope the following facts and figures will help small churches such as ours to go forward with any major schemes they are contemplating, to be encouraged and supported by countless friends, known and unknown as we were.

For the statistical minded reader the figures are as follows: Afternoon collection £36, Evening collection £62, Teas £34, Supper £17, Sale of Work £75. A special mention must be made of the effort of one of our senior Sunday School Scholars, who took an apron around the area inviting people to put patches on it holding their gifts, the total collected being £11-10-0. The following verse was her introduction:-

A Financial Apron I surely am,
To help the Church I am trying.
Just sew on me a little patch
To save my friends from sighing.
A patch so neat, so snug, so stout,
Your Generous gift must not slide out.
Any kind friend can increase my store
The more the better, the better the more.
To all your neighbours please pass me along
Till your patches cover me, safe and strong.
I know my friends are tried and true
And willing hearts make “little” accrue.
My thanks to those with greatest pleasure
Whose contributions swell my treasure.
Any coin is acceptable, great or small
For piled in heaps they become quite tall.
That I may remember where I have been
Write your name in the book, my course to be seen.
Don’t worry about the shape of the patch
Please store some silver under its thatch
And when to our Sale of Work you come
My many adventures will be told by the size of the sum.

It is interesting to recall how much food was consumed:-

30 Loaves of Bread
27 dozen Sausage Rolls
24 lbs of Cake
24 dozen Fancy Cakes
12 dozen Bread rolls
6 lbs of Butter
6 lbs of Cream
6 dozen Meat Pies
18 lbs of Ham
2 lbs of Beef
2 lbs of chicken
6 lbs of Tea
12 Home-made Sponges
20 Trifles
20 Dishes of Fruit Salad
7 Gallons of Milk

Again stressing the high temperature in the Church hall, where jellies melted. Temperatures of between 92 and 100 deg. in the shade were recorded in several parts of the country this day.

It would be impossible for me to individualise on an occasion such as this, but certain names must be mentioned. Our grateful thanks are due to: Messers. Tucker Bros., whose field opposite the Council Houses was at our disposal for a Car Park; the staff of the organ builders, Messers. Osmond of Taunton for their courteous attention; to Messers. White Bros. the contractors, especially recording our thanks to Mr. Dick Pidler for the numerous jobs he did gratis. To my fellow trustees, members of our assembly and adherents for their unfailing and continuous support; our Caretaker Mrs. Annie Parker who had our Church looking so nice for the Services; Pastor Yates for his spiritual guidance and practical help – and finally to those who are always taken for granted, who are never thanked or praised and appreciated as they ought to be. Again, grateful thanks to all.

The Balance Sheet of 1959 showed total receipts of £1,202 with expenditure of £1,202; the main expenses being: Organ £720, Organ Chamber £325, Carpet £80.

We greet 1960 with more ambitions. The parking of cars has for a long time been a major problem causing great concern, but the way to overcome this has been opened up. A Mr. and Mrs. Parkin have recently come to reside in our village, and by so doing became owners of the garden adjoining our garages. They were approached to see if it was possible for the Trustees to purchase a piece of this ground. The negotiations were short but successful. An area of 500 square yards was acquired for the nominal sum of 5/-. Again our grateful thanks to these new-found friends. We shall press on with the same formula — Prayer, Planning and Giving, to the Glory of God.

Inviting old friends and new to join us in our services remembering always “That Thou shalt have all the Praise”.

“To God be the Glory, Great things He hath done!”