Harvest Festival, 1896

The Annual Harvest Festival at St Mary’s Parish Church was celebrated with Holy Communion at 8 am and Choral Evensong at 7 pm.  The chants and harvest hymns were heartily joined in by a large congregation, while Maunnatt’s ‘Deus Misereatur’ and Makers anthem ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ were carefully rendered by the choir.  As usual, the Church was tastefully decorated. The harvest text, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’ with sheaves of corn and other fruits, appeared o’er the altar, which with the vases, standards, and the Chancel Screens was beautifully treated with scarlet and white dahlias.  The font, with its white datula cross and delicate ferns and the central pillar wreathed in corn and red berries, were greatly admired.  After the evening service, Mrs Renwick (housekeeper), in the absence of Sir Charles Seely and Miss Seely, entertained the various church workers and members of the choir at Brooke House.

Harvest Festival, 1900

The music throughout was very hearty, and the choir, who sing in unison, acquitted themselves well.  The decorations, as usual, were very tasteful and effective.  The altar and font were treated with white asters, dahlias, and maiden-hair; magnificent bunches of grapes and the many fruits of the earth appear everywhere, while the reredos was surmounted with sheaves of corn and the text “I am the Bread of Life.”  A well-designed screen was composed of oats and wheat, relieved with scarlet dahlias... the eight bells rang out merry peals before and after the services.  By half past 4 the Park (Brooke House grounds) was rapidly filling with parishioners, old and young ... A large tent was provided with a substantial tea for all the adult parishioners, numbering some 150, while about 50 children had a separate entertainment to themselves on the tennis lawn.  An excellent band from Freshwater discoursed sweet music out in the open grounds, and with plenty of dancing, and many an exciting race and round game, the glorious evening passed all too quickly, and after regretful looks at the setting of the sun and many a cheer for their kind friends, the party broke up and dispersed, well pleased with their efforts to keep Brook harvest home. 

The church was originally lit by candles, but after the Second World War Lord Sherwood (Hugh Seely) installed electric lighting in memory of his brother, Mr Nigel Seely. He also gave an additional piece of land adjacent to the churchyard in celebration of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The altar rail was given by the D'Albiac family in memory of their parents, in 1957.