For the size of the Community, Marshfield has a large range of facilities and activities that are actively supported and continue to grow due to the initiative of dedicated volunteers.
Local Publicity & Communication
Local Publicity for activities in the Parish come primarily from All Around Marshfield (AAM). This quarterly magazine is a source of information about activities and issues but also as a place for local businesses to advertise. As it is on free issue to 800 households, delivered to the door, it provides complete coverage of the Parish. Around 200 copies are sent outside the Parish to local villages and past residents. AAM now has a website on which news updates and the calendar can be found.
However, as AAM is only published quarterly, many events are publicised by flyers through people’s doors and posters in shop and house windows. All of the shops carry an array of advertisements for local events, clubs and businesses. Further there are a large number of overlapping informal social networks which facilitate the passing of information.
The Marshfield based website Local.Local is intended to give local information in a digital format but has not so far been developed fully.
The Steering Group decided on the development of a Parish Directory on this website which will be independent of commercial influence yet provide a useful window on the village which is regularly updated.
Cotswold Edge is the monthly magazine for the churches delivered by request to the door of subscribers by volunteers.
The Parish Council provide a ‘Welcome Pack’ to new residents to the village to familiarise them with the community.
There appears to be a great demand for a Parish website to include:
- A calendar of events
- Details of all the clubs and activities with contact details
- On-line versions of all the various posters and adverts found around the village including for instance:
- A babysitter finding facility
- Sale/give away of unwanted goods
- Information exchange on a variety of issues
Major local events are Boules Day in July and Village Day in August. Both are well supported by those from inside and outside the Parish. However, the demands of organising fall each year on the same band of dedicated volunteers. Both Boules Day and The Village Day organisers have made it clear that they need additional support.
The May Fair takes place in the Market Place organised by the WI and returns a traditional English event to that historic location.
In June is the Church Fete held by kind permission of the owners of the old vicarage. August sees the Community Breakfasts in the Church Hall on 2 Sundays. MarshAid takes place in September. The dance school tends to have a show in Autumn each year and Marshfield Players generally put on at least two productions a year. Alongside these are a range of other fundraising events put on by the large variety of village clubs and charities.
Christmas events include the Cancer Group Craft Fair in November, the school Christmas Fair in December, carol singing and the children’s Christingle service. Each Boxing Day the Mummers perform in 3 locations along the High Street and usually bring crowds of outsiders into the village who then bring business to the pubs.
For the more active, the Mudlark attracts around 120 seniors and 50 juniors for this annual cross country race. Whilst there is a strong body of local support, often involving parents and their children, the majority come from athletic clubs outside Marshfield.
The Marshfield Cricket Club use their main pitch and one on Withymead for senior and junior sides. With their high level of activity, they are having problems meeting their commitments to the Leagues in which they play and to their accreditation requirements. As a result, they are looking for additional space and they are considering whether they could purchase additional land which, if distant from the current facility, would require its own pavilion. The alternative would be to purchase an existing cricket ground.
The popularity of Marshfield Football Club means that their facilities are under pressure. That and increasing pressure of regulation mean that work is needed to provide changing facilities for match officials, fencing around the pitch, and increased maintenance. In the long term, the club would like their own, separate ground leaving the Withymead for junior football and community activities. The training ground has helped relieve pressure but more space is needed. There is pressure on space to accommodate all the football teams, which requires careful organisation. The wear and tear on the grass makes it hard to maintain it within FA rules. Adjacent floodlighting for the tennis has helped football training on their practice pitch.
The need for good facilities in the Withymead pavilion is seen as key to retaining the interest of parents who volunteer with refreshments and other help. The current pavilion is now seen as having serious shortcomings in terms of condition, space and facilities. An important aspect of this is maintaining the income generated for the club which enables them to keep down fees for the less well off.
The Community Centre provides for outdoor bowls as well as indoor badminton and short mat bowls.
Ringswell Common, a little to the South of the playing field, the farm pool at Hay Street and the Weir Pool, Weir Lane, have all been registered as “common” land under the Commons Registration Act.
The main area of public open space in the village remains the Withymead playing area, which is managed by the voluntary committee of the charity Marshfield Outdoor Recreation Association (MORA) providing, over its 6 acres: a children’s play area, a skateboard park, football pitches or cricket, depending on the season, and the new tennis club. The facilities at the Pavilion remain basic and are insufficient to meet the Football Association regulations for the senior Marshfield football team. Alternative accommodation for referees is now required. In recent years, fencing to separate the car park from the pitches was installed to meet FA requirements although this also had the advantage of keeping vehicles away from the skateboard park and cycling ramps. MORA’s budget accounts for roughly 50% of the Parish precept. Much of the groundwork is contracted to Ambiance who also oversee the grass upkeep and general maintenance of the area around the farm pool at Hay Street, and at the cemetery. In recent years much work has been done to restore the farm pool, which had become overgrown. Work continues on trying to maintain Weir Pool. No work is done on Ringswell Common.
The land immediately in front of the Community Centre belongs to the Community Centre and is maintained by them through a voluntary management committee.
A field at Knowle Hill, on Beeks Lane, is controlled by a Trust, the Trustees of which are the Parish Councillors. It was thought that this field was originally meant for allotments but it transpires the original Trust intended it for exercise and recreational purposes. The field currently produces an income of between £50-£60 pa from which the Parish benefits. The Trustees therefore propose to sell this land and, if at all possible, use the money to purchase the allotments on the Tormarton Road. This is not proving straightforward, with Charity Commission rules in reality requiring the proceeds of the land to be paid to MORA. The constitution of MORA requires that the Parish Council cannot interfere or dictate to MORA how it spends its money. Further, it is by no means certain that the proceeds of the sale would be sufficient to purchase the allotments. Work continues with both the Trustees and the Allotment Association seeking the best solution to this complex situation.
The Community Centre is the home of the Marshfield Players with their regular stage productions. It is regularly used by the WI, Toddlers and Marshfield Pre School and for private parties and functions. The Marshfield Energy Day showed how valuable such a large, modern space is for such events. As such it attracts annual events: the Cancer Group Craft Fair, and Potato Day (Gardening Club). Sports use is for 5-a-side football, short mat bowls and Badminton. However, it is seen by some groups as too expensive and one can see why when the Small Hall midweek costs more than double that for the Legion Hall. The Large Hall is naturally more costly still with a premium charged for Saturdays. As a result, there is unused capacity at present. However, this is a very valuable facility which is now being helped to be more economical to run by the installation of solar panels.
The Church Hall is regularly used by a wide range of Groups: Friday Country Market, Circuit Training, Keep-Fit-for-55+, Flower Arranging, Wednesday Lunch Club, Mothers’ Union, Short Mat Bowls, Mens’ Skittles, Flower Arrangement, Folk Dancing, Gardening Club and the various levels of Scouts and Guides. In addition there are Church meetings and private parties. Recently displaced by the loss of the Legion Hall will be the History Society. Indeed, this level of demand has resulted in near capacity usage with only Saturdays available for additional booking. This is a valuable facility with a stage although the large open space may be less suitable for some of the smaller groups.
The closure of the Legion Hall, at the end of January, will be disruptive to user groups such as The History Society, Keep Fit, Marshfield Brass Band, Explorer Scouts, the Unitarian Group and the Dance Group. Its low charges, underpinned its attractiveness as a building. This situation clearly illustrates the danger of simply assuming that Marshfield will continue unchanged.
The cost of venues has meant an increasing demand for multiple use with the Chapel offering space and the Withymead Pavilion. Although it isn’t possible any longer to hire the Pavilion, charities and voluntary organisations can ask to use it for free. The Tolzey Hall is used for Parish Council meetings but there are accessibility issues posed by such an old building. The Lord Nelson and the Catherine Wheel provide meeting rooms although the latter has the disadvantage, for some potential users, of being upstairs.
According to figures published by the Diocese of Bristol in 2011, the parish population is 1616 and the church membership is 110 which is about 6% of the local population. Though this figure may seem small, the church is seen as an essential part of the community; many non-churchgoers in the village are ready to contribute to its upkeep. This was demonstrated in 2006/7 when a large amount of money was raised for replacement of the bell frame and repair of the tower.
The building is Grade 1 listed but the fabric is in excellent condition as a lot of work was carried out in the 1990s. The day to day running costs of the church building are mostly covered by regular donations by members although there is an annual Gift Day when all inhabitants are invited to contribute. The annual church fete, as well as being a popular social event, also helps towards funding maintenance costs. Contrary to popular belief, the church receives no financial support from the government nor from the Church Commissioners. In fact, the largest expense is the money that goes to the Diocese from the parish to pay for the ministry of the church in this area, including our own vicar. We are fortunate enough to have a resident Vicar who is also responsible for three other churches: Cold Ashton, Tormarton and West Littleton.
The church is kept open every day and is an attractive tourist venue for visitors to the village. It is also a quiet, prayerful space for locals and visitors alike.
There are usually two services each Sunday and the average attendance is around 52 adults and around 10 children. However, as many people, especially families with small children, only attend about once or twice a month there are probably somewhere around 60-70 regular attendees.
The church provides Kids Club for children, usually twice a month, during the morning service. The children are mainly primary school age. The few teenagers in church going families choose to go to larger churches in Bath or Chippenham where they can meet with friends of the same age.
There is a monthly Edward Bear Club for mothers and toddlers which is attended by approximately 10 families, though not all at the same time. This is a joint venture with the Chapel and held in Marshfield Chapel.
Weddings, Funerals and Baptisms attract larger congregations with anything from 50 to over 100 in the case of large funerals. There are fewer weddings held in the church than in past decades with possibly only 2 or 3 a year. In 2011, there were 8 funerals/memorial services in the church but there is a tendency towards more services being held at a crematorium, either Bath or Westerleigh. There have been 5 Baptisms in the last year which is about average
The church is also used by the school for end of term and special services
Festivals also attract larger congregations – particularly at Christmas when the church is filled to capacity for the annual Christingle service on Christmas Eve. The British Legion Service of Remembrance is held in the church in November.
The Church is one of the largest buildings in the village yet it is only used for two or three hours in a week. The Parochial Church Council has been looking at possible reorganisation of the church interior and has had plans drawn up for the provision of small meeting rooms at the back of the church together with upgrading the kitchen and toilet. These plans are currently on hold and will be very costly to complete.
The church needs to reduce its carbon footprint significantly in the next few years as The Church of England is committed to a carbon reduction target to 80% by 2050, with an interim target of 42% by 2020. At present there are as yet no plans for meeting these targets in Marshfield.
Church activities are publicised via a monthly newsletter “Cotswold Edge” and it has its own website: www.marshfieldbenefice.org.uk
There are usually two services each Sunday at the Chapel except when members join with the congregation at St Mary’s, for one service a month. The chapel membership is currently 17 but there are approximately 40 people who attend regularly with an average of 25 each Sunday. The congregation is on the whole elderly with no young families or children. It is a pleasant, well-heated building with comfortable seating. Facilities include a small but well equipped kitchen and a toilet.
The fabric is in good condition and the chapel, as an organisation, though totally dependent on giving from their membership, is financially sound.
The chapel building is used for occasional mid-week meetings, for a monthly coffee morning, and, during the summer, for barbecues. Many of their activities are run jointly with members of St Mary’s Church.
The Holiday Club which is held at the school for one week in August is organised by members of the Chapel with assistance from St Mary’s.