Parish Magazine ~ May 2020
Due to the Coronavirus ‘Lockdown’ of March 2020 onwards, th Parish magazine is published mainly online and only a few copies printed for archival purposes.
The Vicar has been writing by email to members of the congregation, and the content appears here.
Dear St Mary Magdalene Family,
In order to slow down the infection rate, churches are closed and clergy told to stay away. The last time this happened was in 1208 when King John refused to accept Pope Innocent’s Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton. So the pope put England under an ‘interdict’ which endured between March 1208 and May 1213, thereby preventing the clergy from celebrating the sacraments. Magna Carta was sealed in 1215. We live in surreal and unique times.
One of the great blessings of faith is that whatever situation we find ourselves in, whatever emotional turmoil, grief, pain of sorrow, our Lord Jesus has been there too. On Palm Sunday he entered Jerusalem amid flag waving and acclamation, cheering and high hopes. Although he did so in humility, riding on a beast of burden, he was treated like a conquering hero, and everyone present loaded onto him and that beast, unrealistic, selfish or ambitious hopes. It was not to be, because, having been tempted by Satan in the Wilderness three years earlier, he knew not only how, but why not to lead his donkey down the route of fame and folly. So within days he was facing heard questions, hostile audiences, quizzing by the authorities, public complaint and then arrest, trial and betrayal. A court appearance, led to judgment by a dictator and then scourging, a walk of shame and then execution. We know the story - we rehearse, perform, recount it every year. It is as they say, the greatest story ever told.
Every year it is different though, because we are different. We map our lives onto his and in doing so we see reflections that both shock and comfort us. This year is no different in that respect, but it is also unique. As those isolated from the world, from loved ones, from families and friends, connected only by words on a page or screen, or voices in our heads, we might remember how the story of Holy Week is a double progression from crowd to isolation.
On Palm Sunday Jesus is greeted by a crowd, like an ancient God a warrior King. Ironic. A few weeks ago we were gathering in crowds, football, shops, parties, worshipping in church and sharing fellowship. It was lovely, and we miss it so. In a matter of days our lives went from public to private, communal to personal. Many slipped from hope to fear. After the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, Jesus went to the garden, where at social distance from his best friends, he prayed to God. He was alone, but surrounded in prayer. Then after arrest, he was taken to the High Priest Caiaphas’ House for a makeshift trial. The site is still there in Jerusalem, and visitors can visit a beautiful church, but then descend to a pit in the ground, a cistern, into which there is some likelihood Jesus was unceremoniously thrown on the night before he died. Some of us have been there and sung that wonderful Taizé chant in the resonant acoustic, reminded of the isolation and trepidation which our Lord must have faced as the drama of death unfolded. Did he know that on the Cross, the main cause of death is not being able to breathe as arms lose strength and the victim cannot raise themselves to breathe and so suffocates?
‘Jesus, Remember me when you come into your Kingdom’.
Corona virus can be a merciless, suffocating killer too. Hundreds of people will die alone today. Let us remember them and their families in our prayers. Meanwhile we are in isolation and it may feel that we are in that dark dungeon with only our thoughts and fears to keep us company, fearing what may come next, or simply just going stir crazy staring at the walls. We will be hauled out. And when we are, it will not likely be to the double agony of Jesus the man, who having stood alone before Caiaphas and then Pilate, found himself in another crowd, socially undistanced, mocked, mistreated, and jeered with the chilling chant of ‘crucify’. They broke the rules and came close, putting a solitary reed in his hand and a thorny crown on his lonely head.
Then he was shoved through the streets of Jerusalem and given only one companion, Simon of Cyrene. Others kept their distance, other than to spit on him, or with acts of kindness to wipe his face. And then, basically alone, with only a few disciples allowed near, and two criminals socially distanced on either crosses, he was left to die, forsaken, alone. In NHS wards today there are ministering angels, who we applaud, it seems on the cross, even they were absent as Jesus cried ‘Eloi, Eloi lama sabbachtani.’
‘Jesus, Remember me when you come into your Kingdom’.
For us the story this week ends there. Hanging on the cliff of the cross, Jesus will be buried and rise again. There is hope to come. But now we leave him there, isolated in a world between life and death. Our own isolation may seem trivial the light of this. Who needs crowds anyway? For we are united with each other and with God. Through this isolation and Passion of our Lord, which, painful as it is, unites us in common experience, cause and hope.
May that be God’s gift to us all through the Passion of his Son, this week - that isolated in body, we may be the crowd of faithful, hopeful, loving witnesses and that his light may shine in the darkness of isolation to us all.
Heavenly Father, our nation cries out to you in pain and fear. Guide us with your loving hand and help us see through this time of trial and torment. Give aid to the afflicted, feed the hungry and calm the fearful with the assurance of your mercy, protection and love, for you are one God, creator, redeemer and sustainer of all, now and forever. Amen.
And another prayer, reputedly (but really only in the spirit of Francis of Assisi), with was suggested to me this week:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life. Amen.
Holy Week is not cancelled - far from it!
On our church website you will find:
A liturgy, also recorded, of the blessing of the Psalms. Palms will be outside the Vicarage for collection. You can listen to the podcast of that blessing again while holding your palm if you like. Do keep it through Holy Wee, you will need it again. Let its frailty and simplicity be not only a reminder of Christ’s passion-journey and isolation, but of your own. There will also be candles - you might like to take one for Easter Day. Freely take for yourself and others from my front doorstep! There will also be candles, and a few copies of magazines and copies of the Palm Sunday material.
Online resources for Holy Week
Palm Sunday resources can be found here: https://stmarymagdalene.church/about/events/holy-week/palm-sunday-at-home-with-blessing-of-palms/
Do join in at 10am Sunday morning, or other time.
Further liturgies and resources will appear on the Church website www.stmarymagdalene.church. The liturgy for Palm Sunday is attached to this email.
The April Magazine exists online https://stmarymagdalene.church/2020/03/magazine-april-2020/
But I am aware that some people are not getting any of these communications because they are not online. We must not leave these folk behind. If anyone knows of anyone who is not receiving this material, either print it out and get it to them, or tell me and we will send them a Holy Week pack consisting of the magazine, palm cross, candle and the stewardship letter. Many of the have gone out already.
The Stewardship Committee wish to send everyone greetings and news, and the letter is attached top this email. If you would prefer to receive a letter in the post, then please say so. Obviously we want to keep costs down and speed up delivery, but we do not want to exclude or offend anyone. We will be posting to those whom we know not to have an email addresses, with a magazine and palm cross. So please tell me if there are folk who might be missing out.
Meantime, go well, keep well, sleep well and remember that ‘all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’.
As we enter the great three days (Triddum) of Easter it is going to be one the like of which we have never seen or experienced. Hard as it is, we must embrace this, embrace it with fortitude, conviction, determination, humility and a sense of purpose that this is necessary. You would think that I am talking about the Corona Virus pandemic we are currently living - and dying - through. Yet I am talking about the Cross. Jesus on the Cross - he ‘embraced it with fortitude, conviction, determination, humility and a sense of purpose that this is necessary’. Perhaps like no other year, we have a new way to walk the Via Dolorosa this year, new ways of mapping our own isolations, fears, convictions and powerlessness onto that of our Lord.
Be creative in your reflecting and praying. Talk. Keep silence. Weep - for you will yet rejoice. For this is the point - Jesus knew that what was necessary would be painful and many would be caused unbearable grief, yet dawn will come. There is no Cross without resurrection and no resurrection without a cross. This year our easy Easter has become harder, but that may be no bad thing in itself, even if some of what folk are living - and dying - through is awful. All we can do is pray for and with them, and take every precaution so that when this is all over over, none of us can ever be haunted by the thought that we contributed to the chaos in any way. For as in all things we are answerable for our actions, to ourselves, each other and to God. I wish some members of our population understood that better.
I know that you are and do, and we thank each other for that, just as we thank God for the ministering angels who disguise themselves in NHS uniforms. Perhaps we can delay or interrupt our Agape/Maundy Thursday devotions this evening to put our hands together for them once again. It is a strange, eerie and moving thing to do - a small, significant thing amidst a big problem. On this Maundy Thursday, Jesus gave the new commandment ‘love one another' (Mandatum - to give) - and washed the disciples’ feet, with his bare hands. So let us use our hands tonight to praise and thank all those who join their hands to serve the sick and dying.
And do pray for Sally Elphick’s family who have lost Ian Fusedale to the Virus. I will share some details of his funeral so you can keep vigil for him and so many others at this time. I’m reminded of that great John Donne poem, which speaks to us, not only of loss of a friend or acquaintance, but of the Passion story itself:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Go well, keep well, sleep well and remember that ‘all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’.
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
On Maundy Thursday (7.30pm), there is a ‘liturgy’ for celebrating an Agape meal at home yourselves. It works even for one person. It is not Communion, but it will unite us.
The Agape Meal material is here: https://stmarymagdalene.church/about/events/holy-week/agape/
If you would like to join in the keeping of the Gospel of the Watch after supper on Maundy Thursday (9pm), then you will find the readings here: https://stmarymagdalene.church/about/events/holy-week/maundy-thursday/
Good Friday resources will be here: https://stmarymagdalene.church/about/events/holy-week/good-friday/. (11am or 5pm). It takes the form of Stations of the Cross, music and words.
On Easter Eve (8pm) you can listen to the blessing of the Pascal Candle, here the Easter Drama and renew your Baptismal vows: https://stmarymagdalene.church/about/events/holy-week/easter-eve. If you listen to that you can break your Lenten Fast afterwards…. (Cheers!)
Easter Day (10am): https://stmarymagdalene.church/about/events/easter-day/
Remember that the Passion play, including the Easter Sections is here:
If you would like to listen to the Easter Drama sections, listen from scene 13.
With the permission of the BRF the Holy Week chapters of ‘At Home in Lent’ can be read and or listened to. You’ll find them here:
I would also commend to you the following website:
Mo’s Easter Sermon will be here:
On Easter Day the Archbishop of Canterbury will be celebrating Easter from his kitchen. This is surely something not to miss. Rest assured, we will have communion in the Vicarage on Easter Day and I intend to record and upload that. But at 9am on Radio 4 and on the Church of England Website, you can watch, listen and join in - See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrIVykrn5zg
The service will be available:
- BBC Radio 4 and the Church of England Facebook page will broadcast the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Day service, with the Bishop of Dover
- The Archbishop of Canterbury will publish a reflection on Facebook and his website.
If you are interested in a Spiritual Act of Communion, see here:
The lock down has been extended, which comes as no surprise really. Perhaps we are getting used to it in a strange way. I hope and pray that everyone is well and coping. Jayne B is in hospital (not with the virus), so we offer many prayers for her. Also Ivor Seyler whom we hear has had an operation that hasn’t gone well. Also, of course, for all those who have lost loved ones, are separated from them, and, for those wonderful people who are manning the NHS frontline. The language we are using is of warfare, a physical and exhausting battle against an unseen and pernicious enemy. We know folk who work for the NHS - too many to name in fact - you and I know who they are (although perhaps we should collate a list of names - do send me names of key workers and we’ll add a section to our prayer list). We also give thanks for those who have survived this, our Prime Minister and Prince Charles among them. I have been in contact with several folk who have had relatives in hospital, in ITU and so on, with mixed outcomes. And huge thanks to everyone - to all of you - who are looking after one another so wonderfully. Those phone calls, shopping trips, emails, WhatsApp texts and calls, really do make a difference and hold us together as a parish community, separated only by social distance but united in faith, hope and love.
Jessica and Maria and I send you all our love, we are fine, doing a lot of tidying up and chucking out, preparing for a move we have no idea when will happen. Unusually for a clergy move, we are part of a chain at the other end, so cannot move in until someone else moves out. So in the meantime, we are still here, and here for you all. And remember, it’s still Easter! Christ is risen: Alleluia! We are Easter People, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!
For as Christians, we have a job to do at this time. Jesus has burst the ‘three-day prison’ of the grave leaving a tomb emptier than our streets. This is our faith and our hope. Others have lived and died through more challenging times than this, which is not to say the emotional, spiritual and physical challenges and privations are not significant. But with an Easter faith to celebrate, we are the lucky ones. The empty tomb gives us hope to pray for the time when we can fling wide our doors and share our faith again with those whom we can see and touch. Meantime we remember what happened on that Easter Day: Jesus came behind lockdown doors and offered the disciples peace and hope (v.19). He showed them the marks of passion which proved his resurrection, but like Mary in the garden (v.17), they did not touch him. Yet when he returned he invited Thomas to touch and hold Jesus. The time was right. It is important to be able to touch and hold others, their bodily presence is as important as emotional and spiritual presence. In the faith, hope and love the risen Christ gives us, we have all three: spiritual faith, emotional hope and loving touch. These three abide, and they abide, as the risen Christ himself does, in us, with us and through us. The ability to touch others again will be restored. Meantime we can infect others with faith, hope and love at huge distances, through walls and behind closed doors. And there is an exit strategy: resurrection life. That is truly Good News for all of us, at home or out and about, inside or out, now and always. For the risen Christ is with us always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). So we are Easter People, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song.
Give us your Easter joy O Jesus, and while we are distanced from others, draw us close to you, that when the doors of our isolation are flung open, we may burst out into a world blossoming with resurrection hope, faith and love. Amen.
Partly extracted from: https://www.brf.org.uk/updates/easter-people-lockdown
An expanded version as the sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter see: https://stmarymagdalene.church/sermons/
I don’t often quote a bank, but the phrase used by Barclays this week, ‘we may be further apart but we have never been closer’ has special resonance, not only at this time, but for us the community of Christ. We have always felt close to others from whom we are separated, by distance, time, space or even death. The notion of the community of saints gives us a breadth and depth of community that the more secular world is getting a glimpse of as we clap in the streets for the NHS and key workers on whom we depend for so much, as we raise money and give what we can, as we emphasise and sympathise with all those who are suffering through this. Paradoxically, in isolation our interdependence has never been clearer. Time-honoured Christian customs of care and prayer and spiritual and emotional closeness through solidarity and common experience are once again to the fore in a society that many have argued has become increasingly disjointed, individualistic and even dysfunctional over the past few decades. So there is real irony in the fact that the distancing we are forced to keep (and will be for q while yet) is actually bringing us together as families, community, strangers and mutually dependent beings. Where would be be without not only nurses and doctors, but dustmen, supermarket workers and delivery drivers. I think the technical phrase is that we would be ‘stuffed’! So it is also good to see the restoration of the common or garden ’thank you’. Sometimes it’s a note on the bin, or a kindly word on the doorstep. Sometimes its saying ‘hello’ across the street to other taking a walk (although as Londoners we have never been good at talking to strangers and still some folk do not respond - we’ll wear them down!!!). Because wherever folk are walking to, for whatever reason, we are all in the same boat (to mix a metaphor!). This is not a war situation, but it is true that nothing has united our country - or even the world - like this for a century at least. And the world of hundred years ago was a very different place that none of us can remember.
There are ironies to our times: buildings of ‘essential’ use are open, supermarkets and hospitals among them. Physical needs are permitted. Spiritual and emotional needs less so. It’s not wrong, but it is ironic. The decision to close churches is what it is (ad some have challenged it), but it is mostly to be noted for its irony: for there has not been a time in the last century when we have been in lesser spiritual need. So, as I said when this began, we look to the internet as a Godsend and the telephone as a rediscovered tool of relationship.
So there is the irony - the paradox of being separated yet close; and the paradox, or irony of the state ministering to physical but not spiritual needs. Which means that we do it ourselves, and that is where being close but separated comes in. And as always we look to Jesus as our teacher and helper, for just as we are close to him yet separated by a great gulf of time and space, we can come close as the community of saints, living and departed, worldwide and throughout past, present and future, in and with our Lord Jesus Christ.
A key way to join our relationship with God to our relationship with one another is to pray for one another. And it helps to know who folk are, what they are doing and how they are getting on. This is why we continue to circulate the prayer list, to commend the church, the sick, the dying and the bereaved to each other's prayers and so to God, joining our prayers with that great cloud of witnesses who are the community of saints. So, for this period we are adding a section, to name before God those who are up against it at the moment, especially as key workers and NHS staff. Do feel free to let me know and add to this list.
And the other thing I thought we might try, in the upcoming Magazine, is to encourage you to send greetings or little messages to everyone. So please, if you would like to send a greeting to fellow isolationists (is that a word), reply to me and I’ll compile a little section for the May magazine, which you will receive next week. It will be online, and mailed as a pdf on this list. If you would specially like a printed copy, I will do a few. It’s not the best way of sharing news, but it’s something!
Bryan Ward reminded me of a little quote from the American inspirational writer, Henry Cloud who said: ‘There is a difference between solitude and isolation. One is connected and one isn’t. Solitude replenishes, isolation diminishes.”. Perhaps by prayer and grace our isolation may be solitude, connected as we are by friendship and fellowship in Jesus Christ. Meanwhile E.M Forster wrote the words ‘only connect’ in his novel ‘Howard’s End’. It may be a sophisticated Game Show now, but it has its roots in that basic human need and desire, to be connected to one another in faith, hope and love. May it be so. Amen.
With love to you all,
Mo’s Sermon (text and recording) for this Sunday is uploaded at the usual place:
CHRISTIAN AID WEEK is by no means cancelled, and we will be letting you know in the forthcoming magazine how it will work this year. Any donations received through our website will go to Christian Aid.
OBERAMMERGAU folk - do not worry, your money is safe, McCabes will be in touch in due course about whether you would like a refund, or to rebook for 2022.
The FOODBANK now has a collection point at Oakwood Station - do feel free to take food there if you are able or willing. We cannot receive food in church for obvious reasons.
Keep CLAPPING for the NHS and others on Thursday evenings.
From the Parish Registers
If anyone is celebrating a birthday or anniversary and wishes to take up the elements please inform the churchwardens.
Wendy Dollimore - What a Blessing it is to be part of the umbrella of out stretched arms of St Mary’s at these unreal times. We all have days of feeling sad, down or just missing, then a phone call ,text ,e-mail, picture or cheeky video comes along and the day is brighter. Missing so many of you but praying and thinking of you, BUT we will surely all see each other soon to share the peace.
The James Family - Caroline, Tony, Alex and Bailey would like to say a big "Hello" to all our friends at church in particular the families who come to Sunday school, The Choir and all the Clergy and servers. We miss you all and look forward to seeing you all again soon we hope.
Julia Smart - I found an old bookmark of mine entitled Gordon’s Guide to Growing with God.
Believe and behave
Consider the needs of others first
Discern the deeds of the Devil
Enjoy each and every day………
And ends with …
Zoom in to God.
Many, including Katie and I have been ‘Zooming’ with friends and family to keep in touch. I rather like the idea of Zooming in to God as well! Katie and I would like to send our love and well-being wishes to our fellow parishioners.
Rita Barker - I send my best wishes & love to all at St Mary’s and your families & hope & pray that you are all well. I am fine & have been in self-isolation for 6 weeks at time of writing but always plenty of contact with family & friends. I expect like the rest of the nation we all now have the cleanest houses in creation! God bless you all - love Rita.
Laura and Ken Cope - Wishing you all well. We miss meeting with you all and look forward to when we can meet up in person again. You are all in our prayers and thanksgivings. Stay safe and keep well, God bless…
Alice Emck - “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Alison Ludlam - Hello everyone, John Jenkins, Alison and Robert Ludlam send you all our best wishes. We are all well and enjoying reading the weekly sermons and completing our own weekly family quiz - thank goodness for modern technology! Keep well and stay safe. x
Christian Aid Week 2020 May 10-16
In the space of just a few months, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a seismic shift in society.
The outbreak has affected all spheres of life. It has brought suffering and uncertainty for so many, both here and overseas, taking centre stage in thoughts, conversations and prayers.
Since 1957 Christian Aid Week has brought communities together in action and prayer and while the coronavirus pandemic means that Christian Aid Week 2020 will be different, churches across the diocese are being invited to stand in solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable people.
Christian Aid Week manager Sophie Brightwell said: “Coronavirus is teaching us what it feels like to feel vulnerable, to fear, to be separated and experience scarcity.
“It is at times like these – testing and painful times – that we recognise we are all in this together. Coronavirus impacts everyone, but love unites us all. Christian Aid Week has always been a joyful celebration of what we can achieve together for the world’s poorest people and in this time of global crisis Christian Aid’s work is needed as much as ever before.
“The most vulnerable and marginalised people are at the greatest risk from coronavirus. In Sierra Leone there are no ICU beds and in Malawi there is one ICU bed for every one million people. In refugee camps, people are not able to keep socially distant from one other and 40% of the world’s population do not have access to soap and water. Now, more so than ever, Christian Aid Week provides an important opportunity to celebrate and share the life-saving work that brings hope to people the world over.
Not surprisingly, the Covid-19 situation has meant that much of this usual fundraising cannot go ahead for Christian Aid Week 2020 (10-16 May).
Christian Aid Week is NOT cancelled!
Now more than ever our gifts, prayers and action are desperately needed. However, in-person events, such as house-to-house collections will not go ahead this year for obvious reasons.
Christian Aid hopes that its dedicated supporters will be able to continue their support.
You can donate directly to Christian Aid (details below) or preferably through the St Mary Magdalene website (https://stmarymagdalene.church/christian-aid-week/) where we have our own donation page. This way it goes through our books and we can keep track of what we raise.
Telephone and postal donations. Unfortunately under the current circumstances regarding Covid-19, we would rather not take any donations by post. Marked and sealed Envelopes may be put through the Vicarage letterbox during May, but please be aware that cheques may take a while to be cashed. Please give via the website where possible or call 020 7523 2269 to donate by telephone.
Wren Academy at Chase Farm
A message from Wren Academy re planning consultation for the permanent buildings for Wren Enfield:
As you are probably aware we already have planning permission for the temporary buildings for Wren Academy Enfield on the Chase Farm Site. We are now almost ready to make the application for the permanent buildings. Detailed designs have been drawn up for Wren Academy Enfield and a separate primary school, as well as outline designs for housing. This is a very exciting part of the process because it allows you to see what our buildings and the surrounding area will look like, and to comment on what you see, and this represents the formal consultation part of the planning process.
The Department for Education and the main contractor, Bowmer and Kirkland, have launched a public website at www.chasefarmdevelopment.co.uk.
We would be very grateful if you could have a look at the website and share this with others in the community. We encourage you to review all of the material provided, ask the project team any questions and send your views via the feedback form by 7th May. It is really important for us to be able to demonstrate to Enfield planners that our community engagement has reached people, even in lockdown.
Thank you for your time and your support.
Coffee Mornings 2020
If coffee mornings continue for 2020 here are the dates which we hope to see each other again!
June 16: Carol & Peter
July 21: June Carr
August 18: Gill & David Bird
September 15: Jackie Fish
October 20: Kate & Bob
November 17: Lilian & Colin
December 15: Rita Barker
May 20 tbc Christopher Royall ~ a professional chorister and musician
June 17 Mo Lunn ~ a quiz
July 15 – Bring and Share picnic lunch in our garden at 12:30 pm
August – no meeting
Please encourage friends to join us, especially when something is of special interest.
The “Spanish” Influenza in Enfield, 1918 -1919
From the Parish Magazine, November, 1918.
Owing to the prevalence of influenza, which is of a virulent character, the day schools in Enfield at the time of writing have been closed, and the Medical Officer of Health has requested the Vicar to close the Sunday School until after November 10th, in order to avoid infection as much as possible. The request has been complied with. We hope that the epidemic will have reached its climax before the magazine appears.
Just over one hundred years ago, our predecessors at St Mary Magdalene’s church and in the parish, were having to contend with a global epidemic even before the end of the Great War. And yet, this is the only reference to that epidemic in our Parish Magazines of the time. The Vicar was the Rev. John Thomas.
As you can see, the day schools and the Sunday School were closed but not the church, which carried on its services and activities as usual. This was because the flu epidemic, at the beginning, seemed to be affecting younger people more than older. At Chase Farm, which was still a Poor Law orphanage and school, 242 children and eight staff became ill with the flu. All the children survived. At Forty Hill school, 120 children became ill.
In 1918, Enfield, Edmonton and Southgate were still three separate boroughs. The parish of St Mary Magdalene was part of the Chase Ward of the Urban District Council of Enfield. Chase Ward covered an area of 4,478 acres and had a population of 13,399. This gave an average of 2.9 people per acre, reflecting the affluence of the Ward which still contained many large private residences. In contrast, the most crowded Ward in Enfield was Bush Hill Park with a population of 11,935 living on 792 acres, a density of 15.06 people per acre. Although normal birth and death rates for the two Wards were similar, Bush Hill Park’s infant mortality rate was a third higher than that in Chase Ward.
The Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for Enfield, who ordered the closure of schools and Sunday Schools, was Mr. William Pennefather Warren. His work, together with that of the Council’s Sanitary Inspector, Mr. A.J. Munro, was the overseeing of all aspects of public health, from condemning slum housing and prosecuting owners of unsafe factories to infectious disease control and immunisation to the inspection of foodstuffs to ensure that they were safe for human consumption.
In his Annual Report to the Council for 1918, Mr. Warren notes:
INFLUENZA: The disease began on or about October 5th and lasted in epidemic form until the beginning of December; it was of a very virulent type and caused 127 deaths, - the actual cause of death in nearly all cases was Pneumonia.
Of these 127 deaths from the “Spanish” flu in Enfield, only 19 were of children and only 7 of people over the age of 65. It claimed most lives in the age range of 25 to 65 years. In previous years, the most frequent infectious diseases such as scarlet fever, measles, diphtheria and tuberculosis had claimed only tens of lives.
Mr. Warren further reported:
On November 25th a Medical Inspector of the Local Government Board paid us a visit at the end of which he expressed himself satisfied with the action of your Health Department, and did not make any suggestions as to any further steps to be taken in coping with the disease.
Enfield was relatively lucky. In the neighbouring council area of Edmonton, 218 people died from flu. In many parts of Edmonton, people were living in overcrowded accommodation. This was due in part to a great influx of workers to the Royal Small Arms Factory during the Great War and also, according to their MOH, Sidney C. Lawrence, “in many cases, two soldiers’ wives limit their expenses by concentrating into one house instead of two.” Nutrition and general health had been affected by wartime rationing. These were ideal conditions for the spread and severity of the flu. The flu virus had not yet been identified as such – it was still thought to be a bacterial infection – and so the Chairman of Edmonton Public Health Committee claimed that all the deaths recorded had happened in families living in “dirty homes”. Of course, this was not so. Good hygiene was and is important in the reduction of the spread of infections but, as now, anyone could get flu, and sadly, the Chairman’s wife was a later victim of the epidemic.
It has not been possible to research whether any members of our parish were directly affected by the epidemic but there is one tragic entry for a funeral in the March, 1919 parish magazine, of Doris Marian Potter, aged 14. She was from a middle-class family who lived in Merrivale, a house on the East Barnet road, and her father was a newspaper proprietor. Funerals of children were rare at St Mary Magdalene, so it is possible that she was a flu victim. The MOH’s Annual Report for 1919 records 72 deaths from influenza, of which two were of children between five and fifteen years of age.
The “Spanish” Flu Epidemic was worst in our area between September,1918 and January, 1919. Across the world, the last recorded case was in March, 1920. It did not, as was popularly thought, originate in Spain. Historians now think that it began in an army barracks in Kansas in the USA and was brought to Europe by American soldiers coming to help bring the Great War to its conclusion. The flu was first widely reported in Spain, which at that time was a neutral country and had no restrictions on the freedom of its press. In those countries involved in the war, the press was more careful about printing stories which would lower public morale, so the term “Spanish Influenza” was coined for what is still the world’s biggest pandemic, which claimed an estimated fifty million lives from 1918 to 1920.
Joy Heywood - The Archivist
Sources: St Mary Magdalene Parish Magazines, 1918 – 1919
The Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health for the Urban District Council of Enfield, 1918
The Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Edmonton Urban District, 1918
(Both held at The Wellcome Library and available online.)
Enfield At War 1914 -1918: Geoffrey Gillum and Ian Jones
Spanish Flu: The Virus That Changed the World: Laura Spinney (BBC World History Magazine, June/July, 2017)
Coffee and a Concert
11.30pm – 1pm
Coffee, tea and cake available in the Choir Vestry from 11.30 am
Concert programme for 2020
May 13 Cancelled
June 10 – Margaret Green: Vocal
July 8 – Marina Ersog: Piano
August – No Concert
September 9 – Catherine Leonard: Piano
October 14 – Marion and Michael Smith: Piano and Organ
November 11 – Jonathan Newby: Piano
December 12 – Lunch Time Carol Concert