Logo_-_Benefice                         "Welcome to our beautiful corner of England!"


The St Margaret's Benefice consists of four historic village churches and is part of the Dover Deanery, in the Diocese of Canterbury:-

 St Margaret of Antioch in St Margaret's-at-Cliffe
St Peter at Westcliffe
St Augustine in East Langdon
St Mary the Virgin in West Langdon

 We look forward to welcoming you!

General Benefice email: outreach@stmargaretsbenefice.org.uk / Vicarage email: stmargaretsvicarage@hotmail.co.uk

If you would like to be added to our mailing list,  to be kept up to date with events and news, please complete the box below:-

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St Margaret's Church has
an induction loop

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What on earth can one say about the horrors in Nice?  We don't know the motive, I'm not sure it even matters, but we feel real pain and distress at the brutal, indiscriminate, pointless taking of precious life.  What can we do?  How do we respond?  
Be the light, be the hope, be the love.

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What a difference a few days makes to the British weather!  Yet the distinctly moist nature of last Sunday did nothing to dampen the atmosphere at the Big Parish Picnic.  With over 60 people attending, and marvelous performances from Mrs Back-to-Front, our first foray into this type of event was well received and supported.  Some terrific photos have been winging their way in over the last couple days, so take a little look!


The people start to gather, and make the most of a well-positioned gazebo in front of the Punch & Judy booth.                                                 It's always the weather for ice cream!


Mrs Back-to-Front did an amazing job
entertaining the picnickers despite
the moist conditions!

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We remember the sacrifices made at the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago
.  Archbishop Justin was asked what the Thiepval Memorial signified to him - his answer "The total failure of government".  Lesson learned?

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The Saturday Service families made a mid-year visit to the ladies at the Amy Temple Cottages for their June Saturday Service.  We were thinking about celebrations, in particularly the Queen's 90th birthday, and so we made bunches of tissue paper flowers, all wrapped in white cut-outs of the children's hands, to mimic the white gloves the Queen always wears.  People get sweaty hands when they are nervous before meeting the Queen, so to make it best for everyone she wears white cotton gloves, and her courtiers carry spare pairs!

Wearing their crowns with pride!

Our next Saturday Service will be 2nd July 2016, then 
we take a break for August.

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Stoic, that's what the British are - especially in the face of 40mph winds!  That's what the Scout Committee had to contend with as they erected marquees, tents and cooking shelters ready for Bank Holiday Monday's St Margaret's Village Fête.  There is a certain degree of cooperation and bonding that develops between a group of people using their entire body weights to tie down a marquee canvas!  But carry on in the face of adversity they did, and very grateful are we to them, for without their determination to put on a village community event, despite obstacles, St Margaret's would not have had a Village Fête this year.  It was terrific to see local groups and organisations set up their stalls, anchoring down gazebos with considerable amounts of rope (!) as they made sure they put on a good show.  Which brings me to our Chocolate Tombola - what a fantastic amount of donations we had!  A huge thank you to everyone who contributed, it especially confused my Postman who regularly came across random chocolate items in my porch!  With the little bit off for the stall fee, we have made a fabulous £100 for St Margaret's Church.  We were entertained by a terrific band, and a selection of The Players cast showcasing some songs from their forthcoming production of "Oh What a Lovely War".  Which is another function of these events - to promote and support each other's organisations and interests, because when we work together, we all get that bit extra back.

[Photos are on their way!]

For more details of St Margaret's Players upcoming exciting production of "Oh What a Lovely War", please have a look at the St Margaret's Players Website.  This will be a terrific production with a variety of events happening at each show.

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What a glorious day for the Spring Walk at West Langdon yesterday (Sunday 1st May) perfect for blowing the cobwebs away on a sociable stroll through the Kent countryside.  There was a terrific turn-out - a quick head count at tea time came to at least 90!  Wagons rolled at just gone 3pm and we all set off through the lush green fields to the sound of skylarks.  Even the wind didn't feel too cold anymore as it kept us fresh as we made our way through the rolling countryside.  We all made our way back to the farmhouse from around 4pm - some via more creative interpretations of the map than others! - and we were amply rewarded for our efforts with a magnificent tea, where we made equally good efforts at eating our own weight in cake!  Many, many thanks to everyone for the extremely hard work baking all the fabulous cakes, scones and biscuits, and to the army of washer uppers who cleared it all away at the end.  It really was beautiful sitting in the garden in the warm sunshine, chatting and eating cake and tea - an English tradition well worth preserving!


Up hill and down dale, spreading out across the

Spring_Walk_2016_pic3Enjoying tea in the garden, and the sterling work 
by the catering team!

Spring_Walk_2016_pic7         Spring_Walk_2016_pic6                                   Spring_Walk_2016_pic5

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The Scouts are hosting the ' Fête for the Village' on Monday 30th May and this year St Margaret's Church are having a tombola stall a Chocolate Tombola! So we would really appreciate any donations towards making this a great success. It could be a bar of chocolate, a chocolate cake mix, chocolate biscuits, anything along this theme use your imagination!   All donations can be put in the box by the bookcase at the back of the church, or drop them round to 11 Royston Gardens. The more we have, the more money we can raise. Thank you and we will look forward to seeing you all there.

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Photos are starting to come in from the Graffiti Survey last Saturday - thank you to everyone who has already sent them and we look forward to seeing the rest.

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We had almost 60 people at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting on Sunday 10th - 
it was good to look back over the previous year, take stock of where we are today and share thoughts about the future.  We then shared a fantastic Sunday roast cooked by Terry and the team which was such a good opportunity to sit and share conversation, maybe get to know someone you hadn't spoken very much to in the past - food is such a universal way to make connections with people and cement a sense of community.  I urge everyone with an interest in St Margaret's church and the sister churches, to get yourselves registered on the Parish electoral rolls so that you can have your say and vote at the annual meeting.  That Sunday lunch is really something to behold!

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Thank you to everyone who came to St Margaret's church this afternoon for the graffiti survey.  This was our initial systematic survey of the columns and walls to give us a more accurate overview of the extent, variety and quality of medieval graffiti, and what a lot we found!  Teams were assigned to specific sections of the church, to note down and photograph everything that we could identify as deliberate markings in the stone.  The next step is to send in any photographs taken, remembering to identify which column or area of the church they were taken from, to outreach@stmargaretsbenefice.org.uk - either send the photos as attachments or perhaps you find it easier to put them onto onedrive and send the link with an email.  We are happy to receive them however you wish, even if you want to print them and pop then in at the Vicarage.  We will then collate all the information and let you know what the next stage will be to follow them up.  In the coming week or so you will be able to find a new page on this website, which will have more details of this exciting project, along with photos and further details of how you can be involved.

Once again, thank you to everyone who gave their time this afternoon - projects like this one only happen because people are generous with their time and enthusiasm.

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The St Margaret's & District Gardeners' Association Spring Show was a riot of colour with a fantastic array of categories and entries.  We are very lucky to have village events like this that bring people together from all over the community and from all generations - and we all like a little bit of competition every now and again!

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What a lovely Easter Sunday service at St Margaret's church this morning, made all the more special by the baptism of Emily Mabel.  There is really nothing that quite matches the sound of a full congregation singing "Thine be the Glory" with the organ resonating throughout the building.  We were so pleased to be able to give out the wooden Easter Eggs, especially as they were lovingly encased in beautiful bags made by Pat Hunt.  If you didn't get to see one, here are some pictures:-



Beautifully tactile wooden eggs, filled with the symbols of Holy Week,
that all fit together, ready for the next Easter

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Accessibility.  It's a word we hear quite a lot, and usually applies to buildings and transport, but is also equally relevant to the Gospel message.  Now, it doesn't mean simplification or dumbing down, it means telling the message in a way that engages the listener, in a way that can be heard and felt, which was amply demonstrated by our Palm Sunday procession.  Taking part in the procession, and even watching it come into church, made the events of Palm Sunday that much more real and alive.  We carried on this theme of engagement on Thursday afternoon, where we had a go at making our own Last Supper and sharing it in church.  So, with the help of a trusty camping stove and some willing helpers (and eaters) we set about making and cooking some flatbreads and accompanying them with some grape juice, and a telling of the events of the Last Supper.  Children love getting involved, and the chance to get their hands in mixing, shaping and rolling their bread was not an opportunity they were going to turn down!  


Cooking on gas!

Rolled to perfection

Getting good and messy, and armed with a rolling pin!                     


Cooked, served and ready to eat!

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In these days where everything has to be interactive, we really got involved at St Margaret's Church for our Palm Sunday Service!  We processed from the village car park into the church, waving our palm crosses and our palms made at the Craft Morning the previous day, accompanied by two delightful Shetland ponies (didn't you know, 2 x Shetland ponies = 1 x donkey!).  Many thanks to Pat and Stephen Wood and helpers for allowing Arthur and Smithy to lead us in to church on this day of celebrations marking the start of Holy Week.  And by "lead us in to church" that is exactly what they did - right up to the choir steps!  What a fabulous way of engaging with the events in Jerusalem all those years ago.  Just to let you know, the bucket on stand-by was not needed.


Meeting Arthur and Smithy, and setting off on our Palm Sunday Procession


Making our way towards the church, palms waved high!

Arthur and Smithy were impeccably behaved in the church
and it was lovely to welcome them right in to the church.

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What an exciting Friends AGM yesterday evening! Whilst there is no active committee at present, The Friends are still very much in place, and at a point where they can be taken forward with energy, enthusiasm and the potential to develop fresh ideas regarding communication and fundraising.  So if you are looking for a new venture, or have just paddled around on the periphery for a while, now could be your chance to make a difference.  Email The Friends if you want to find out more.  After the housekeeping of the AGM was taken care of, we were treated to a further talk by Danny Budzak of the Kent Medieval Graffiti Survey about our astonishing church graffiti and how we can take forward a process of documentation and dissemination.  We have an extremely culturally valuable medieval art gallery on the pillars and walls of St Margaret's, full of pictures, symbols and puzzles - have a look, you will be amazed.  Other than a survey in the 1980's of the ship graffiti, which identified 48, no other survey has been undertaken - and that total seems frankly conservative when you really get looking, as we found 10 ships on one pillar alone last night.  What is being planned is for a systematic survey to be carried out on the afternoon of Saturday 9th April from 2pm, whereby teams will be allocated areas to detail and document.  If you would like to be part of this, I recommend you have a read of Norfolk Graffiti Survey Handbook, a very helpful booklet detailing the best ways to illuminate and record the etchings, as carried out by the originating survey in Norfolk.  If you want to be involved please email outreach@stmargaretsbenefice.org.uk so we can get an idea of the numbers.  We can then send you a copy of the record sheet we will be using so you can familiarise yourself with it.  This is really an exciting project and could hopefully generate further support for The Friends, who make such a difference to our ability to maintain our Grade 1 listed church.
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Mothering Sunday can stir deep emotions - renewed love and gratitude for our mothers; regret for harsh words spoken, hugs withheld; upwellings of sadness at people no longer with us; a need to hear the voice of mothers separated by miles.  Whatever our experiences of motherhood, given or received, we take this day to think and pray for everyone fulfilling a mothering role.  Yesterday (Saturday 5th), we had a wonderful Mothering Sunday Craft Morning in St Margaret's church, with keen youngsters making cards, pictures and flowers to give to Mums and Grans.  Helped by those very same Mums and Grans, it has to be said, so perhaps the surprise element is a little missing, but nevertheless, from experience I know every single one will be treasured!  

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Pancakes have been flipped and we have now stepped into Lent - how is your resolve?  Kept out of those biscuits?  Read a passage of scripture a day?  Reached out to someone lonely yet?  Whatever your Lent challenge, perhaps you would like to add it to our Lent display in the Children's Corner at St Margaret's Church.  Just write your thoughts and prayers on a little card, prompted by the themes on the envelopes on the display.  Pop your card in the appropriate envelope and see if committing it to paper makes it easier or more difficult to keep.  While we often try and keep Lent pledges to do with our bodily needs (keep off the biscuits!), let us not neglect our spiritual needs or diminish the importance of refreshing and renewing our spiritual health.  Working on a crossword the other day, I came across an answer which really resonated - "keep body and soul together".  During this Lent season let us not forget that we need to nourish both to be a complete person, to keep us together.  Our soul needs a body, and our body is nothing if we have no soul.

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As we approach the season of Lent, we have a number of of things happening that involve all ages, and will hopefully help make it easier to think about message of Lent.  We start off with our Saturday Service on the 6th February, when we will think about how we can prepare for Lent.  Then we have the lovely celebration of Mothering Sunday, with our Mothering Sunday Craft Morning the day before on Saturday 5th March.  Our Easter Craft Morning is on Saturday 19th March, where we will be making Easter crafts and doing some preparation for Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  At Palm Sunday on 20th March we hope to have a procession of palms made the day before into the church.  For Maunday Thursday, we are planning to have a little cooking session in the church for anyone who wishes to come along.  We will be making simple flat breads and sharing them with some grape juice to have our own Last Supper, after which we will lay out out Last Supper table in the church.  More details of these events and other services will follow shortly.  We hope you can join us as we try to bring the Easter story alive.

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Sad scenes in Dover today, with far-right groups protesting against immigration being countered by anti-racism demonstrators.  Our police force in the middle.  Seeing the pictures, one thing stood out - why does it always seem to be men who shout the hate and women who call for tolerance?  This is, of course, a generalisation, but one that has some validity.  What are we teaching our young men, or perhaps not teaching them, that leads them down this path?  What role models are we creating - many of these protesters must have been husbands, fathers, uncles.  The middle ground is, by it's very definition, in the middle.  Neither one extreme or another.  The fringes, on the other hand, always push to their limits - the fringes of political parties, the margins of society, perhaps the geographical fringes as well.  We couldn't sit more on the edge of the country if we tried - does that automatically mean we have to also be the most defensive and extreme about those the other side of the line?  Coming from smack in the middle of the country, I had thought that moving to the edge would introduce a bit of continental living into the British mix.  It actually showed a resolute desire to emphasise just how English we really were in contrast to our continental neighbours.  Does reaching out to others make us any less ourselves?  Does it somehow dilute who we are, where we come from or what our history is?  Or does it make us compassionate, understanding, willing to see the need in others and active in putting the teachings of Jesus into practice?  The Lampedusa and Lesbos islanders have been totally overwhelmed by the influx of refugees, completely outnumbered, but they remain undeniably Lampedusans and Lesbosians and examples of communities with very little themselves giving all they can to help the human tide arriving every day.

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In addition to the article below, we have set up a new page on the website - Crisis Response - which will give more details and practical information.

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Chilly, the last few nights, wasn't it.  Lovely clear frosty morning on Saturday though.  It felt like proper winter weather at last.  It's always feels so good to wrap up and take a walk in the crisp freshness.  Would I appreciate it the same way if I'd had to sleep outside all night in it?  I remember how the cold crept into me by the early hours when we slept in the church for our Advent Sleep Out - one night, not overly cold outside, with a solid roof and walls to protect us.  What if all we had were damp sleeping bags and a tarpaulin sheet, and nothing to stop the cold wind off the sea?  Night after night.  Not feeling safe, or well fed, or clean, or well.  This is happening just a few miles over the channel, for thousands of people.  They are there for many reasons, of which I'm not going to even try to go into here.  What matters is that there are thousands of people in real, immediate need of humanitarian help.  'Migrant', 'refugee', 'asylum seeker' - vocabulary lumps people together and takes away their individual story, it makes it easy to dehumanise.  People.  Like you and me, like my parents, like my children.  Displaced people in need of food, water clothing and shelter.  In need of someone to show they care.

Overwhelming, isn't it, when you really start reading up on what is actually happening.  If you are looking for a way to help, a good place to start would be by going to sidebysiderefugees.org or www.helprefugees.org.uk for a way to provide meaningful help through legitimate organisations in a measured and targeted manner.  It is, of course, your choice.  There are so many good causes that pull at our heart strings and our purse strings.  We just want to signpost a possible way to help fill this particular need.  Jesus wanted us to love one another.  He made no distinction who that "one another" were.

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Did you know that our local Community Warden, Lee Kidd, holds a surgery at St Margaret's Library every Monday afternoon?  Come along and meet him, discuss anything that might be troubling you, or just have a chat.  If you need to get hold of him at any other time you can call him on 07977 982184 or email lee.kidd@kent.gov.uk.

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It's back into the swing of things as we work our way into January - The Saturday Service made our Epiphany visit to the ladies of the Amy Temple Cottages, which was enhanced this year by meeting the ladies in the three new cottages and giving their houses their first blessing.  What a wonderful little community we have in the heart of our village.  Our Three Kings (interchangeable, so everyone got a turn!) were suitably regal, and we gave each lady a little nativity scene the children had made prior to setting off from church.  We made our way back to church to enjoy welcome warm refreshments (at least it didn't rain on us this year!) and a catch up on what has been happening over the Christmas period.  
Getting ready!

Three Kings make their visits - jaunty angle of the crown there, Cameron!

Deserved refreshments back at church!

Our next Saturday Service will be on the 6th February.

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Looking for a practical present for someone?  Want something that will contribute to the benefice?  Then look no further than our new St Margaret of Antioch tea towels and cloth bags.  At just £2.00 for the bags, £2.50 for the tea towels, special rate of £4.00 for one of each, they are sure to delight and perhaps be a lovely reminder to those no longer living in the area.  They are available after most 10.00am services at St Margaret's, or call Sandy on 852265

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St Margaret's-at-Cliffe Parochial Church Council is a charity and is entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1166921.

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