• Recent Activities at St Stephen’s Church

We have had these fabulous events recently…

2024: Easter Flowers

A huge ‘THANK YOU’ to all the wonderful flower arrangers who created the beautiful displays in St Stephen’s and St Pancras’ churches for this Eastertide. Your work is much appreciated.

Floral Workshop: Friday 22nd March 2024

On Friday 22nd March Jane Silk held a wonderful workshop in St Stephen’s church with 4 of us keen to learn how to make beautiful spring floral wreaths. We were not disappointed as each of us, Clare, Helen, Jenny and Mary, took home a wreath full of the scents and colours of spring. Jane took us gently through the process of packing moss onto our wreath ring and adding bunches of foliage before finally adding a few sprigs of forsythia with a ribbon to give colour. Thanks to Jane for her skills and patience and thanks to Bee for supplying us with coffee and delicious shortbread.

 

Christmas 2023:

Big thanks go to our fabulous Flower Arranging Team for making St Stephen’s look so lovely over the festive season.

St Nicholas Fair: Saturday 2nd December 2023

What a lovely occasion the annual St Nicholas Fair is! It brings the whole parish together whether you are one of the preserve makers, cake bakers, Quiz creators, book sellers, bric-a-brac collectors/sellers or refreshment organisers or a visitor enjoying a hot mug of freshly brewed coffee within the gentle ambience of St Stephen’s church.

Here are a few photos of the day courtesy of one of our photographers…

Remembrance Sunday: 12th November 2023

Our wonderful flower arrangers have been busy creating thoughtful displays to help us with our reflections.

British Science Festival 2023: Shame in Medicine-The Lost Forest

One of the exhibitions in the Guildhall Shopping Centre on Friday 8th September was Shame in Medicine: The Lost Forest. It was sited at St Pancras’ church. This podcast gave voice to unspoken truths about medical culture. The podcast episodes were accompanied by stunning illustrations.

Kimbilio Project Update at Crossing Place: Sunday 17th September 2023

It was great to be able to welcome Ian Harvey, managing director, who joined us at Crossing Place on Sunday 17th September. He gave us an update on how the Kimbilio Project is helping children in need in the D.R.Congo.

Words and Piano Music 2023

The dream team of Bee Harley, Helen Evans and Richard Skinner delighted their audience on Thursday 10th August with a mix of piano music, courtesy of Bee, with recital of poems from Helen and Richard.

All donations from this event go toward Exeter Community Initiatives.

More Flowers…

Our flower arrangers added some beautiful fresh flowers in St Stephen’s church on Friday 4th August. So lovely.

Holy Communion at St Mary Arches

On Sunday 30th July we enjoyed celebrating Holy Communion in St Mary Arches church which is currently leased to Unlimited Church.

A few birthdays were mentioned and celebrated with cake and flowers especially for Sarah who had reached a milestone birthday earlier in the month.

Summer Lunchtime Concerts 2023

On Thursday 6th July St Stephen’s welcomed Matthew Wright on the piano.

Our second concert on Thursday 13th July featured Emma Graham playing the harp.

 

The third concert on Thursday 20th July delighted a packed church. Héloïse West (soprano), Rebecca Squire (mezzo soprano) and David Davies (Piano) performed a variety of pieces from Henry Purcell to Madeleine Dring.

The final concert on Thursday 27th July showcased the talents of Phil Bonser on the clarinet with Dorothy Raven on the piano.

 

Easter Flowers 2022

Thank you to our Flower Arranging Team for the magnificent displays of flowers in St Stephen’s church this Easter.

Christmas 2023

A huge ‘Thank you’ to everyone who helped make St Stephen’s look so festive this year.

Nina Savicevic – Christmas Recital 2022

We welcomed Nina back to St Stephen’s on Thursday 8th December for a fabulous Christmas recital. Firstly, we were treated to 3 pieces of music by Schubert, Chopin and Liszt and then Nina moved into Christmas mode by playing a few popular carols as previously requested. These included The First Noel, Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem and Jingle Bells! All carols were given Nina’s unique treatment.

 

Inter-Faith Week 2022

Universal Prayers for Peace during Inter-Faith week were held in St Stephen’s church on Saturday 12th November with representatives from the Bahai, Hindu, Islam, Quakers, Christians and the University Multi-Faith Chaplaincy.

Orthodox Vespers 2022

On Tuesday 8th November Father Porphyrios led Orthodox vespers in St Pancras church after he had led a day on ‘Orthodox Life and Spirituality’ to members of the ‘Introduction to Spirituality’ diocesan course.

 

Remembrance Day 2022

We have a beautiful quilt hanging in St Stephen’s church made by one of our wonderful Flower Arranging team.

A Marriage Blessing 

The Rev Sheila Swarbrick conducted a marriage blessing ceremony on the afternoon of Saturday 15th October in a beautifully decorated St Stephen’s church. Thanks to the flower arranging team for the gorgeous dried flower arrangements and to everyone else behind the scenes who helped to make this a delightful and happy occasion for the newly married couple.

Harvest Festival 2022

The parish Harvest Festival was held on Sunday 2nd October in St Petrock’s church. As usual a collection of goodies was made for the St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre.

Thank you to our wonderful flower arrangers for providing some much needed Autumnal colour in our churches.

Nina Savicevic – Lunchtime Concert

The parish and visitors came together to welcome and celebrate Exeter pianist, Nina Savicevic, as she entertained us with her amazing talent on Thursday 15th September.

Nina’s programme included…

Piano Sonata no.15 in D. The Pastorale Sonata by Beethoven

Reflets Dans l’eau by Debussy

Vallee d Obermann by Liszt

Nina introduced each piece of music before playing it beautifully and with passion. At times, especially during the final piece, it sounded as if we were listening to an entire orchestra in the church rather than a lone pianist.

Irmos for Ukraine – a charity concert of ancient spiritual songs

On Thursday 25th August St Stephen’s hosted a group of touring musicians from Ukraine hoping to raise funds for a theatrical centre in Lviv. A member of the audience has written the following…

‘It was a very interesting experience as the whole concert was a service for peace sung in the Orthodox style. This was explained at the outset and there was no applause until the end. It was a beautiful blending of powerful voices and harmonies. Many people left in tears having been very moved by what was a powerful experience. Their voices and voice control were quite exceptional and all totally unaccompanied. There was a spiritual atmosphere, it really was a prayer for peace.’

Summer Lunchtime Concerts 2022

St Stephen’s is delighted to host the summer lunchtime concerts once again.

The first concert on Thursday 7th July was with Heloise West (soprano) and Rebecca Squire (mezzo) and accompanied by Paul McClure.

Emma Graham graced the church with her harp playing on Thursday 14th July.

On Thursday 21st July Nick Cornish (oboe) and Andrew Daldorph delighted visitors with their playing.

The final concert was held on Thursday 28th July with Phil Bonser on the clarinet and Dorothy Raven on the piano.

A huge thank you to all performers.

 

Parish visit to Killerton Gardens

A group from the parish made their way to the National Trust property of Killerton House on Monday 28th March to potter through their magnificent gardens resplendent with a variety of beautiful daffodils and magnolias. It was the best way to start a new week. After our pottering we concluded with coffee and cake!

 

Fore Street Flea Market

On Sunday 27th March we opened up St Olave’s church to join in with the Flea Market on Fore Street. It was a lovely sunny morning and we raised in excess of £140. Daniel Dayment took some photographs on behalf of the Council with Claire taking some for the church.

World day of Prayer 2022

This year the annual day of prayer service took place on Friday 4th March at 11am in St Stephen’s church. Women from England, Wales and Northern Ireland put together the service on the theme of hope from the Jeremiah verse ‘I know the plans I have for you’. This theme was particularly appropriate considering the numbers of refugees currently fleeing war torn Ukraine.

Spring Flowers 2022

Thanks to all flower arrangers who created these lovely displays…

 

Christmas Flowers 2021

Our team of flower arrangers have produced some delightful arrangements in time for the Christmas celebrations in our churches.

St Nicholas’ Fair 2021

On Saturday 4th December the parish hosted their annual Fair. There were lots of preserves, biscuits, cakes, bric-a-brac, books and Bob’s Fiendish Quiz to tempt all visitors who could also enjoy  a warming coffee and mince pie during a break in the busyness of their Christmas shopping.

Congratulations and Thanks to all those who organised, helped and shopped at the Fair.

Remembrance Sunday 2021

Our flower arrangers created the following displays for our Remembrance service held in St Petrock’s church on  Sunday 14th November 2021.

‘The Watchful Heart’ Poetry Anthology Launch

On Thursday 7th October 2021, National Poetry Day, we hosted the launch of the new Watchful Heart poetry anthology edited by Helen Evans and Richard Skinner. Pictured below are some of the contributors who are members of the Inner Room creative writing group, a pioneer fresh expressions ministry run by our own church member and writer, Helen Evans. The group launched before the first lockdown and the title of the anthology is based on the poem Everything is going to be All Right by Derek Mahon: ‘The lines flow from the hand unbidden and the hidden source is the watchful heart.’

Harvest Festival 2021

This year our Harvest service was held on Sunday 3rd October in St Petrock’s church at 10.30am. As usual we made a collection of food stuffs for the St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre. Thank you to the Flower Arrangers for the beautiful displays of Autumn colour.

Summer Lunchtime Concerts 2021

The parish are delighted to host the popular July concerts in St Stephen’s this summer after an absence due to the pandemic last year. Our thanks go to all performers for giving their time and energy and to all helpers including the flower arranging team for making St Stephen’s look so summery.

The first concert on Thursday 1st July saw Ruth Molins, on the flute, kindly step in when Heloise West was unable to perform. Ruth was accompanied on the piano by David Davies.

We welcomed the Skylark Quartet to St Stephen’s to perform for the second concert on Thursday 8th July. The quartet are comprised of Lynn Marcell Carter on the oboe, Victoria Loram on the clarinet, Jo Arnason on the bassoon and Judith Hall on the flute.

Our third concert on Thursday 15th July featured Andrew Millington on the piano with Alex Poulton, baritone. They performed a variety of pieces entitled ‘Songs that Inspire’ including work from Benjamin Britten, Mozart and Schubert.

Another splendid concert was enjoyed on Thursday 22nd July where Matthew Wright played for us.

Our final concert featuring Phil Bonser on the clarinet and Dorothy Raven on the piano was held on Thursday 29th July and was enjoyed by a large audience.

More beautiful arrangements…

 

Trinity Flowers

Our flower arrangers have been busy again producing these lovely arrangements in St Stephen’s church. The yellow and white irises are from the Exeter Thursday market and look radiant.

The Lockdown Quilt (Spring 2020: Creativity in Captivity) and Martin Davison Art Exhibition

Both these wonderful exhibitions ran in St Stephen’s church from Thursday 3rd June to Sunday 6th June. A steady stream of visitors appreciated the stories behind the quilt which was inspired by the Changi Quilt created by women prisoners during the Second World War. The modern day quilt was created by people during the first lockdown and put together by a group of Exeter Quilters. A whole range of techniques have been used to create the squares expressing feelings of hope, gratitude and wonder at the resilience of people and the things that have helped us to cope with the Covid pandemic. All donations are going to Refuge.

Martin Davison (1931-2017), Sheila’s uncle, was a full time painter and his exhibition showcases his talents with a range  landscapes and still life pictures.  Also, on display was Sheila’s copy of a photobook of some of Martin’s work along with a 2020 calendar with English and Welsh landscapes. All proceeds will go toward church funds.

‘Refreshing Waters’ Music and Meditation

Thursday 13th May 2021 saw us enjoy reflective piano music from Bee Harley including Bee’s ‘River Music and ‘White Horses Waves’ with readings from the Revd Sheila Swarbrick. The music mirrored the wet weather beautifully but gave us all space to enjoy time with our own thoughts and those inspired by the readings from Country Diary articles.  £93 has been raised from donations for Christian Aid.

Thank you to the St Stephen’s flower arrangers for the lovely ensemble of yellow tulips in honour of the occasion.

May Flowers

The flower arrangers have been busy and creative once again in St Stephen’s. They welcome our visitors in such a beautiful way.

A bouquet of thanks…

On Sunday 18th April a bouquet of beautiful flowers was presented to Cath Dobson as  a small ‘thank you’ for her 20 years of service as a trustee to the Central Exeter Relief in Need (CERN) and St Edmunds and St Mary Major Charities. The parish wish Cath well as she steps down from this role. Both charities regularly provide small crisis grants to those Exeter based individuals, families and organisations who are in need.

Easter Day: Sunday 4th April

This year Easter Day was celebrated in St Martin’s church. These beautiful lilies graced the altar and they were taken to St Pancras church later in the week as the blooms opened fully.

Christmas Music and Meditation

On Saturday 19th December we enjoyed a fabulous treat in St Stephen’s church when Bee Harley (pianist), Matilda Whates (harpist) and Revd Sheila Swarbrick enriched our Christmas preparations with beautiful music and words. ‘What a life affirming hour’ was one reaction to listening to a wonderful range of music from composers such as Handel, Sophia Dussek and Bee Harley. Sheila’s readings included a recent Thought for the Day by Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Christmas Affirmation from Christian Aid.

All proceeds to go to Lifting Hands International and St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre.

Christmas Flowers

The flower arrangers have been busy decorating St Stephen’s in time for the festive season.

Presentation to retiring flower arrangers

On Sunday 6th December, the second Sunday in Advent, the parish presented our three retiring flower arrangers with pretty posies and cards to say a big ‘THANK YOU’ for so many years of creating beautiful displays in the the churches.

In addition, thanks were also given to four much valued members of the parish for their amazing work keeping things going during lockdown.

 

Flowers for Remembrance Sunday

Our lovely flower arrangers were busy last week creating some beautiful arrangements including wreaths to help focus our attention on the upcoming Remembrance Sunday.

Harvest in St Stephen’s

The annual harvest service was held in St Stephen’s on Sunday 4th October 2020. A collection of goods was made for St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre.

Music and Meditation: ‘Peace, flowing like a river’

The Revd Sheila Swarbrick and Bee Harley led prayers with reflective music in St Stephen’s church on Thursday 3rd September at 1pm. The half hour performance was an oasis of calm while we drank in the thoughtful words read by Sheila and the calming piano music played by Bee – a wonderful combination.

All donations from this event are to be sent to Doctors without Borders (msf.org.uk).

Tea Party at the paddock

Members of the parish enjoyed a treat on Sunday 30th August at the parish tea party hosted by Caroline and Ann in their beautiful paddock. The sun shone and we loved sharing chat, tea and delicious cakes. Naturally, all social distancing rules were followed. An added joy was the performance by Ben the Juggler who awed us with his juggling skills.

Thanks to Betsy, Caroline and Ann for organising such a lovely afternoon.

A wedding in St Olave’s church

On Wednesday 8th July the wedding took place at 12noon between Steph Selway and Chris Stokes with Revd Sheila Swarbrick officiating. It was one of the first weddings to take place in Devon since Covid-19 restrictions have been eased. Here are a few photographs of the wedding couple and the gorgeous flowers in the bridal bouquet, arrangements and posies.

Stay and Play:

Saturday 7th March 2020 where the children made lovely Mother’s Day gift boxes.

Saturday 1st February 2020 saw the visiting children making beautiful things with a Valentine’s Day theme.

 

Saturday 7th September saw the beginning of our Autumn and Winter Stay and Play sessions.  The children enjoyed making lots of lovely creations.

Bee’s Summer Lunchtime Concert

Bee and friends gave a glorious concert to a packed audience in St Stephen’s on Thursday 15th August. A fabulous sum of £300 was raised for Refugee Support Devon. Peter Harflett, Dorothy Raven and Tony Raven also participated in the concert.

Summer Lunchtime Concerts 2019

The final lunchtime concert on Thursday 25th July was ‘A Surprise Recital’ with Donna-Marie Broomfield (soprano) and David Davies on the piano. We were delighted to welcome Donna-Marie who stepped in to replace Heloise West who was sadly indisposed. The eclectic programme of arias and piano music moved and amused the audience in equal measure.

St Stephen’s welcomed Lily Neal (violinist) and Matthew Wright (pianist) on Thursday 18th July to the third in the series of concerts.

On Thursday 11th July Nina Leonard Savicevic made a welcome return to St Stephen’s. She is a young, talented pianist who delighted the audience with a range of music including dances, storms and imagination from composers including Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. Nina also gave us a little bit of the history behind each piece. Next year, Nina is looking forward to participating in the BBC Young Musician of the Year programme, which is very exciting.

‘Songs that Inspire’ was the first recital in our series of summer concerts beginning on Thursday 4th July. It featured Alex Poulton, a professional baritone singer, with Andrew Millington on the piano. We were treated to a feast of music from the serious to the silly including pieces from Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten and Mozart. Andrew played a couple of solos featuring work by Brahms and Lennox Berkeley.

Stay and Play

The children visiting St Stephen’s on Saturday 6th April between 2pm and 3.30pm enjoyed making Easter baskets amongst other activities.

Bee Harley and Friends Lunchtime Concert

Another fabulous concert was held in St Stephen’s on Friday 5th April. All the proceeds go to support Doctors Without Borders.

An Informal Cabaret with Gordon Clarke and Richard Skinner

On the day after nothing happened between us and Europe, Richard Skinner, a member of our Parish, and Gordon Clarke, Richard’s friend from university days produced a cabaret for us – and why not! Richard and Gordon were once part of the well-known Footlights team of Cambridge University and have many years experience of treading the boards writing and performing revues. The material was their own, some of it was even new! But for many of us in the Parish who know them well, the old chestnuts are still the best! We raised £600 from the event, shared between St Petrock’s Homeless Centre in Exeter and St Peter’s Malawi Educational Trust.

Keith Walton

NB Richard discovered a day or two late that he had mis-filed some invitations that should have been posted. Very many apologies to any who missed out.

Bee Harley with the Grace Notes Choir

Bee Harley held a carol concert ‘O Light Invisible: Peaceful Christmas Music’ on Friday 14th December in aid of St Petrock’s Homelessness Centre. She was joined by the ‘a capella’ group, Grace Notes. It was a lovely evening of beautiful music.

Nina Savicevic Concert

We continue to follow the progress of the exciting and delightful pianist Nina Savicevic. On Thursday 29th November 2018 she performed three pieces, including ‘La Cathedrale Engloutie’ by Debussy to a small but appreciative audience in St Stephen’s during a lunchtime concert. She is currently studying at Wells Cathedral school, Somerset, but is in the process of applying to a number of Conservatoires and Universities to continue her studies next year.

Tour of Exeter Cathedral

A group of about 20 of us gathered at the Cathedral on Wednesday 21st November 2018 for a tour led by our own Jessica Claridge. Through Jessica’s knowledge, stories and anecdotes we became immersed in the history of this iconic building. Huge ‘thanks’ go to her for allowing us to become more familiar with this fabulous building and some of the the characters who created it.

Huge ‘thanks’ also go to Betsy and Sarah who organised a delicious cream tea for us in a warm St Petrocks’ church, which was enjoyed by everyone after the tour.

Fields of Gold Concert

This concert was organised by Bee Harley and held on Friday 27th July 2018 in St Stephen’s church. The donations given were in aid of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).

The first photograph shows Grace Notes Choir – a cappella ensemble for upper voices conducted by Daphne West.

The second photograph is of Bee Harley playing the flute with Peter Harflett accompanying Bee on the piano. Bee also played some piano solos of her own composition.

July 2018, Lunchtime Concerts

Our final concert for this year took place on Thursday 26th July where Alex Poulton (baritone) was accompanied on the piano by Andrew Millington.

Thursday 19th July saw the third of our summer series with Nick Cornish on the oboe and Dorothy Raven playing the piano.

The second concert on Thursday 12th July featured Phil Bonser on the clarinet with David Davies on the piano.

Our first lunchtime concert on Thursday 5th July featured Verity Stroud, singer, with Andrew Daldorph on the piano.

Last year, at the July 2017 concerts, David Davies performed with Heloise West, a mezzo soprano.