SATURDAY MAY 4th, 2019

We had such a fab night at the Moon Goose concert on Saturday.  I run a community shop in the vestry of our tiny little church, in a tiny village in the Peak District, and you are a complete inspiration as to how we ought to tackle our current difficulties – small and ageing congregations, no outreach and a shortage of vicars which means that all six churches in our valley will soon be without one.  The atmosphere on Saturday was amazing – a proper community event for all ages and everyone was really friendly to us, a couple of strangers.  We had such a wonderful time.

I’m in the process of trying to get an extension to the vestry/shop so we have some space for the shop to run outreach events.  We all want to help St Helen’s stay open as a functioning church if we can. We don’t sadly have the equivalent of the wonderful Moon Goose in Grindleford, but we do have a lot of musical talent and I am thinking folk and jazz club would not go amiss.

So, thanks for a great event and a big dollop of inspiration.  I really think that what you are doing is the way to keep the church alive, bringing the community together under the church roof.  Fantastic stuff!!

Sarah Battarbee, Grindleford, Derbyshire 



We held the first ever performance of the Kingdom Project here today thanks to the wonderful Hay St Mary’s church.

The show, ‘Coulrophobia’, was a great success and the church the perfect theatre location.

We very much look forward to next year!

Thank you, Hay St Mary’s, Fr. Richard, and all of your team. Ami – Kingdom Project Director 25.08.2018

It was wonderfully weird to be performing in a church, but we loved it! Thanks. Dik


Leamington Sinfonia and St Mary’s Church, Hay on Wye

It was a sunny day in the Summer of 2014 when the then Chairman of Leamington Sinfonia, John Cullington undertook to do a ‘reccie’ of Hay on Wye as a possible destination for an orchestra weekend.

We had asked the orchestra for suggestions within 2 hours drive of our Midlands base.  Hay on Wye was duly put forward. We then found online that there was a good variety of accommodation types in the town.  Next was the most important piece of the jigsaw: a place in which to play.  Our first port of call was the Tourist information Centre, which proved to be exactly the right move, as within half an hour we were talking to Terry Watson and John Funnell at St. Mary’s Church itself. We realised straightaway that this was a very special venue.  On entering the church one can sense the crisp yet warm acoustic and a very notable atmosphere of calm and see that with the removal of the front pews, it has become an ideal venue for music making.  Terry and John were most welcoming and receptive to our idea of giving a concert the following Summer in aid of Church funds.  We couldn’t believe our luck.

And so it went on! A trip out to the campsite at Outdoors@Hay followed and this idyllic site with its bonus of self-catering accommodation has become our perfect base.  Next stop, The Three Tuns and arrangement of a Saturday evening meal after the concert. To our great surprise and delight we had the key elements of our tour sorted in a few hours.

This year, 2018, became our third visit to your beautiful Church and will probably be the most memorable!  We have always been assured of a warm welcome at St Mary’s but this year the weather added to it.  Temperatures of 30C meant that the church was definitely the coolest place to be!  England’s success in the World Cup quarter final against Sweden, threatened to disrupt rehearsal plans.  Nevertheless, all turned up for a most welcome cup of tea and delicious cake provided by Gill Spurr.

We love playing at St. Mary’s.  It provides for us a rare opportunity to play and sing a more Classically orientated repertoire with a smaller chamber sized orchestra.   Beethoven and Haydn symphonies have featured in our programmes here, and the fine acoustic provides an enriching experience for our players. We have also used the opportunity to prepare some wind only and string only works and, not least, some choral pieces. It is impressive to hear instrumental players successfully rise to the challenge of forming a choir, and this doubtless enhances our orchestral playing.

So we celebrate this venture between St Mary’s and Leamington Sinfonia and hope to continue it into the future.

With many thanks to John, Terry, Adrian, Gill and Stuart

Rachel Misson

Chair, Leamington Sinfonia