Eastington church choir – voices from the past

By Stephen Mills

Like every village, Eastington has had a church choir from time immemorial. Although its scale and makeup has inevitably changed with the passing years, it has always been an integral part of ecclesiastical and village life. As well as for regular services, the choir has been there for all occasions ranging from christenings and weddings to funerals. Life most rural church choirs, Eastington’s has always mainly comprised our clergy and villagers.
That brings us to the two photos of the choir separated by several decades. The 1950 one had a bit of a chequered history. Many of you will remember the large Sunday morning boot sales that were held (many years ago!) in the car park by Stroud railway station. It was during one of these rummaging sessions that we stumbled across a large framed but very battered photo of the church choir. We bought it and took it home, whereupon the frame promptly fell to bits and was ditched.

Somehow, the photo ended up in the attic where it remained forgotten for 30 years.
I recently rediscovered it planned to include it in the next ECN but by a strange coincidence, Jenny Riglesford posted a photo of the choir from around 1970 on Facebook ‘Love Eastington’. It seemed like it was meant to be, so here are both photos – they give an interesting glimpse back to when life in Eastington was very different, but doubtless there will be many villagers who recognise themselves, friends, or family members. In some cases, the names hark back to families that can trace their village roots back for many generations.


Close up Left
Back row: Miss P Shill
Middle row: Mr C Keys, Mrs C Keys, Miss E Howell, Miss G Alder
Front row: Miss M Telling, Mr L Morris, Rev. H Potts





Close up Right
Back row: Miss J Keys, Miss D Warner
Middle row: Miss G Alder, Miss F Davis, Miss D Birt, Miss D Thomas, Mr L Hawkins
Front row: Sister F Clare, Mr F Birt, Miss B Telling




Eastington Church Choir around 1970 (courtesy Jenny Riglesford)


Suggestions so far:
Bob Barnfield, Cyril Keys at the back,
Rev. Lewis, Betty Winfield, Floss Davis, Betty Barnfield, the Telling sisters, Jenny Riglesford, ? ,Marcia Rugman? Ann Cobbold, Elizabeth Barnfield?

So, the faces may have changed over the years, but the choir has always been there, but what has been its purpose? I came across this interesting definition of a choir’s function:

The four functions are

  • to lead and enliven the congregation’s song,
  • to sing music that the congregation cannot,
  • to serve as a small-group within the church for faith formation, and
  • to sing beautiful and challenging music to glorify God and to edify the congregation.

All things that I’m sure our choirs have always striven to achieve!