After a hearty English breakfast at the hotel, we loaded the motor coach to head to the Astley church, St Peters, where Frances Havergal (1836-1879) was born. She was the youngest child of William Havergal, rector of Astley. She was born in the rectory and her body lies in the churchyard. Frances is a leading female hymnist. Her hymns have been extremely popular through the years due the intimate nature with which they were written using the first-person pronoun. Some of her well-known hymns are “I Bring My Sins to Thee,” “Is It For Me?” “Lord Speak to Me,” and “Take My Life & Let It Be,” songs sung as often as any in Anglican and American churches.
St. Peters Church
The church is undergoing some restoration at this time as you can see from the photo. I suppose when we are close to 800 years old we may need a face lift too!
Here we are gathered around the tomb of Frances Havergal singing “I Gave My Life for Thee”. The rector of St. Peter’s church joined us as we sang. He was very familiar with the song so he was a great addition to our singing. A great experience!
Now we were off to see the Gardens of Hodnet Hall, ancestral home of hymnist, poet, parson and squire Reginald Heber (1783-1826), writer of “Holy, Holy, Holy”. Reginald was one of those rare hymn writers born into status and wealth. The Heber family has lived here for a thousand years! When we arrived we went directly to the church where we sang “Holy, Holy, Holy”. The church was beautiful with some of the most gorgeous stain glass windows. It’s hard to describe just how beautiful these old churches are but they are stunning! By the time we left the church the sky had darkened and the rain had begun – typical English weather we were told – but it did not dampen our spirits! With raincoats and umbrellas in tow and even an occasional plastic grocery bag being used as a rain bonnet, we headed off in all directions to explore the gorgeous gardens.
Dr. John Parker with Lord Heber-Percy
We had an extra special treat while visiting Hodnet Hall today. The Lord of the Manor, Lord Heber-Percy came out to personally greet us. It was a real treat to get to meet him. Who knew that Lords could be so down-to-earth and have such a good sense of humor! He was wonderful!
After spending a couple of hours at Hodnet Hall, we loaded the motor coach and headed for our final destination of the day — the Lake District. It was about a three hour drive to the hotel, but no one seemed to mind. It just gave us time to talk, laugh, sing, see the countryside and of course, take a nap!
We have checked into the Cumbria Grand Hotel for the night. The view overlooking the water is really beautiful. We have now had dinner, been for a walk and are calling it a day. Hope you will join us again tomorrow to see where our journey takes us! Thanks for joining us!