Bere Link Parish Magazine

The Bere Link is our monthly parish magazine, which covers community events and information as well as that from the three churches on the peninsula (the two C of E churches and Bere Alston United Church).

If you would like to receive a copy (now 50p), please contact us. And if you would like to contribute an article, news, joke — whatever — the closing date is the 15th of each month for the following month and articles should be sent to the editor:



by the previous editor

January 1916 was an exciting month, as it saw the production of the first Bere Ferrers Parish Magazine, which cost threeha’pence. The Rector, Rev. James Sharpe, was the editor and assistant editor was Rev. H.M.Harvey. Bere Ferrers parish had previously been included in a magazine covering a number of parishes, but the style of writing of the Rector — described as ’new journalism’ — had not found favour with the editor. (I’m sure that would never happen these days!) As a result, it was decided to produce the parish’s own magazine. The feedback from the first issue was reported by Rev. Sharpe in February 1916: “I have been very much gratified, cheered and encouraged by the wonderful reception our new magazine met with, from all parts and from all sorts of people. It makes one feel that it is destined to supply a felt want in the homes of our people.” We hope it still does. “Our aim ambition and hope is that it may draw us all as a parish closer together.” Nothing has changed there, either. There was an increasing circulation of 100 at that time. It is now 500+ and rising.

Articles in the February 1916 issue included ‘The Nurse Fund’, ‘Our Mothers’ Union Tea’, ‘An Interesting Lecture’ (women’s work in the War), ‘Women and Agricultural War Work’, ‘Bere Ferrers Belgian Refugee Fund’ and ‘Parochial Notes’. The magazine was still going strong in 1933. There is a list of all the names in an edition from 1927 here.

The parish notes were then included in the Tavistock Ruridecanal Magazine, a copy of which, from November 1938, Jean Pike kindly loaned me. Rev. Sharpe was still the writer. Organisations mentioned included, yet again, the Mothers’ Union, and this time also the Bere Town Young Men’s Club and Bere Alston Church Guild. A social in Bere Ferrers Church Hall had included a programme by ‘The Moonbeam Juveniles’ from Plymouth. The Legion were holding their annual Remembrance service in Holy Trinity at 3 p.m. on Sunday 6th November. (Even the time hasn’t changed!) Three ‘handsome gifts’ to Holy Trinity Church were acknowledged: a ‘beautiful brocade green pulpit frontal, a beautiful brocade (green) chalice veil and burse and two beautifully worked green alms bags’. Parochial Almanacks for 1939 were ready, containing the Calendar for 1939 with its church seasons, facts and festivals and lists of parochial organisations, officials, fees and a little letter from the Rector (how could he resist!).

In August 1947 the Ferronian came into being, with editor Rev. Richard Crookshank. Circulation was up to 250 and the cost was 2d per copy, but it only consisted of 4 sides of half foolscap paper with the Exeter Diocesan Leaflet of the same size inserted. One cannot help but feel that the original Parish Magazine (and, indeed, the current Bere Link) was better value! The ‘Commentary’ in January 1948 queried what the new year held in store. “There are wars and rumours of wars; nations have turned their hands against nations; comets have appeared in the sky; statesmen are suspicious and angry with each other and confusion seems worse confounded.” This could surely have been written today.

The Rector, Rev. Crookshank, remarked on the fact that, after a certain amount of technical difficulty, the restoration of the heating arrangements in the Parish Church were now in perfect order, having cost £120, which would make a bit of a drain on their resources! I'm sure the current rector, Rev Nick Law (Nick the Vic), would be happy to solve current heating problems for as little! Included in this issue was a letter from Edgar Graham Elwell, parishioner and local physician, appealing for parochial unity, both religious and social. “Leave destructive criticism out of it! That will be unusual—but healthy.” And, of course, the Mothers’ Union got a mention, with tickets available for a function…! I found one of the Rev Crookshank's letters in the magazine, from 8th August 1949, online and you can see a copy of the transcript here.

An item from the August 1949 edition caught my eye: “Heavy demand for knickerbockers.” Apparently the choir had had a successful and happy trip to Paignton on July 26th. The weather was warm and this gave members a chance for bathing. (Daring!) “A good many ices were consumed: after tea several choristers explored the delights of the Pier, whilst one achieved fame by consuming a mysterious refreshment called Knickerbockers. This good person appeared none the worse for the experience.” Definitely a more light-hearted publication; it even included ‘August’s Laugh’: ‘The Short Story of Bere Ferrers’ Water Supply—Well, well, well!” No, the quality of humour hasn’t improved since! And there was a puzzle: “The following letters placed in their right order form a word: M E P U S H N O.” Answers on a postcard please...!

I haven’t managed to find out how long the Ferronian kept going, but it was at least until July 1954. In that month the Rector’s letter began: “Summer this year fell on Wednesday July 7th; since then we have been enjoying a very mild winter. But Summer coincided with the Church Fete and all was well… The pessimists were confounded, the optimists rewarded…” So summers weren’t all good then! The monthly puzzle was still going strong: T P I H O R L E C E S.

The next magazine I have a copy of is dated March 1967 (price 6d), and it is called Outlook. The Rector was Rev. Arthur Beddow. One item that will stir memories is a reference to the Aberfan Disaster Fund, for which £19-11-7d had been collected. There was also reference to the Anglican Methodist Joint Services: “This is another means of bringing a happy relationship between the churches”; and a report on the dedication of the Lady Chapel in St. Andrew’s Church to the late beloved Rector, the Rev. James Sharpe who had been in the parish for 34 years. Excitingly for mums, there was to be a meeting to start a playgroup in Bere Alston. (And it’s still going strong!)

There was an A5 size ‘Parish News’ during Rev. Alan Wakefield’s time, but it folded due to rising printing costs in December 1990. Fortunately it re-started in March 1991 as the A4 Bere Link, initially as a church newsletter and being duplicated locally. It then expanded and has been a magazine for the whole community for several years. Having originally been produced by the Church of England, it became a joint effort between the Church of England and the United Church in 1994, and contributions are received from a large number of parish organisations.

The circulation continues to grow—as does the number of pages! Fortunately it is now produced on computer and risograph rather than the physical cut and pasting and then duplicating that used to happen!

Some past articles can be found here and here.