Paignton (Palace Avenue) Methodist Church

Palace Avenue, Paignton, Devon, United Kingdom

Another Kind of Uniform

1950 - a time for peace

Like her father before her, Miss Louise Tout gave a lifetime of service to the church. A pianoforte teacher by profession, she played the church organ for over 30 years. Following her death in 1951, Mr Percy Pearse was appointed organist, while Mr Wash continued as choirmaster.

Mr Pearse was well respected in music circles, especially the local male voice choirs. His was not a technical performance. He played from the heart. From the organ stool, he would lead not only the choir, but the whole congregation by playing each note in relation to the printed word. Hymn singing took on a new significance and the roof beams groaned even louder.

Knowledge of hymns was one of the great interests of Frank Mitchell. He could relate the history of each hymn and its writer. No mean musician himself, he would drop in at the youth club and sit down at the piano, if the boys and girls wanted to dance. For many teenagers in the open club, he was the first proof that men who wore dog collars were real flesh and blood.

It was not only in the pulpit that his lively delivery was sparked with telling illustrations. He was soon known throughout the town as a speaker with an understandable message. This was certainly the case in Paignton Hospital. Taking ward service for a captive and often reluctant congregation could have been daunting. Not for Frank Mitchell. He could attract and hold the interest of any non-believer with his strong voice and assured utterances.

The Holy Week services now included a Maundy Thursday Communion. A simple sharing of the Last Supper, on this most poignant day of the Christian calendar, became a tradition. Another innovation was the Christmas Eve midnight Communion service. This was appreciated by nurses, busy mothers and anyone who would be working on Christmas Day.

It was a period of new ventures. The monthly Bulletin, forerunner of the 'Newslink' appeared.

Then came Cubs with Mrs Jean Parry, and Brownies under Mrs Mildred Oates' leadership. Natural events led to the subsequent formation of Scout and Guide Companies by Mr Ken Williams and Miss Marion Burnham respectively. For the first time, there were non-conformist groups of these organisations in Paignton. The liaison became even closer when Jean Parry and Ken Williams were married!

The fact that the Revd Mitchell was invited and re-invited to remain for 7 years speaks for itself. To everyone's advantage, the three or four year pattern had been broken. Palace Avenue was very fortunate that the Mitchell's later chose to retire in Paignton. They both continued to serve, through many difficulties, for the rest of their days.

New Trustees were appointed. They were:

  • Messrs
  • F E. Martin
  • F A W Williams
  • H. Hurrell
  • T. Hobson
  • P.H.V. Mansfield
  • W.L. Hannaford
  • R. Fenton
  • H. Gowman
  • L A King
  • H. Copp
  • A W Cornwell
  • C E. Hicks
  • L.H. Lucy
  • P. Pearse
  • W G. Everson
  • B W. Madge
  • W.F. Shillabear.

All these men held a variety of offices in the church. Like their predecessors, they brought their own skills and business experience, and used them to the glory of God.

CHOIR OUTING TO VENFORD RESERVOIR Circa 1953

CHOIR OUTING TO VENFORD RESERVOIR Circa 1953

From 1955, the occupants of the manse were the Revd J Owen Clutterbuck, his charming wife and three vivacious daughters. Young men in the Youth Club took a sudden interest in their appearance when these girls came on the scene.

This was a family whose members all showed concern and compassion Owen Clutterbuck was a minister in every sense of the word. A practical man with an industrial background, he knew and understood the common upheavals of life. His help also extended to invocation. His Prayer Circle had over 100 participants who would pray regularly at 8.30am on Sunday mornings. A few came together in the church, while others linked from home.

Although there had been a huge circuit effort the previous year, more money was needed to bring the manses up to date. At the same time, the organ at Palace Avenue needed urgent attention. Despite the expenditure six years earlier, only a re-build would suffice.

Their forbears had raised extra cash by means of bank loans, usually at about 3% interest. The practice now adopted was for interest free loans from the members for a set period. Owen Clutterbuck encouraged direct giving. Members were asked to take collecting boxes, which were received for opening at intervals. This system proved very satisfactory, and has been repeated down the years.

The organ repairs were met with interest free loans and gift boxes, which covered the total cost of £1100. All this was achieved in one year. The organ was reopened on the 16th May 1956.

This busy minister found time to start a Sunday afternoon class for young men who had outgrown the Youth Fellowship. His efforts proved fruitful. Dennis Bussey later candidated for the ministry. Two boys became Local Preachers, one of whom, John Jeffery is on the Plan today. Others took a variety of offices within the church. These young men received encouragement at a vital and impressionable age.

These five years were a time of consolidation. Modest, Christian witness and dedication were the breeding grounds for spiritual growth and awareness.

Copyright © Sylvia Tancock 1990 (Reproduced here with the permission of the Author)
If you wish to use any of the material please contact us first to obtain permission.

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