The Ashford Parish Church Archive 

During the time of Canon Everett's Freehold, great efforts were made by the late Messrs Cormack and Hall (the former Church Archivist) along with Mr J. Moon and Canon Everett, both with regard to cataloguing all the Archives, but more specifically the desire to retain the Church Archives in the Church building, in accordance with the procedures requested by the County Archivist.  As some items had been stored for hundreds of years in the Parish Church, it was felt it would be sad to see them go.  When Mr Hall became terminally ill, he asked Mr C.J. Cooper if he would be prepared to take over the care of the archives.  Mr Cooper ensured this was ratified by a PCC meeting.  However, the PiC who had since joined the church, and one of his Churchwardens had ideas to move the archives to Maidstone.  They, however, also thought it perfectly acceptable to arrange the transfer without informing the Archivist (Mr Cooper), no doubt knowing that Mr Cooper and a number of other Parishioners would have been unhappy to se their transfer.  Upon enquiring with the Maidstone Archive, it became clear that they only wanted written documents of over 100 years in age.  They had also been told by the church hierarchy that 'no-one isi interested in the archive' and that there was no longer an archivist, even though Mr Cooper had been ratified as such at a PCC meeting.   This now brings us to the present situation, which is that, whilst the important handwritten archives have  been transferred to the County Archive in Maidstone,  they did not want many of the following items (not an exhaustive list, but from memory that which was formerly in the room at the West end of the church, and known as the Warden's Vestry).  These items MAY still be in there which would be perfectly acceptable and to be desired, but we are not completely sure, and hope to view these items in detail in the near future.  We are of course concerned; these items are, after all irreplaceable, and as far the social history of Ashford (especially the Church and its organisations) in the last 100 years or so is concerned, they are an extremely interesting and valuable resource, and should be generally available at least for viewing, and preferably also at least a precise list, if not also copies, should be available on the internet; a task which Mr C.J. Cooper had intended to complete had the unfortunate happenings documented elsewhere on this part of the site, not occurred .  Below is the list of items we are concerned for:

+ Old Parish Magazines dating back as far  the 1880's (many years bound into volumes until the 1970's) and mainly complete through to at least 2004
+ Many old service books used at the Parish Church before the advent of liturgical revision (BCP's, Lectern KJV Bibles, Hymns A&M Revised etc.) as well as books collected together by Mr Cooper, which he had discovered dumped in the North gallery.  Many of these were "Children's Church" books.
+ Other books retrieved from the collection in the former church library which was at the West end of the church.  The books retrieved contained front plates recording that they were given as prizes or for confirmation to children of Ashford Parish Church, and were signed by Canon Tindall (Vicar until 1914)
+ In the Churchwarden's strongboxes were several very old  and large BCP copies specifically relating to, and for the use of Ashford Parish Church, as well as at least one Book of Homilies, also of a very ancient date.
+ There were also a number of more recent (within the last 30 years) photographs and articles regarding Ashford Parish Church which were, in the main, put into two albums by Mr C.J. Cooper during his time as Archivist.
+ Numerous faculty request/confirmation documents relating to various works on the church, including removal of pews at various times, a 1927 faculty regarding the building of the upper stage of the current choir Vestry, and the purchase and faculties for installation of the metal riddle-posts and curtains for the two east-end  side altars (which, vitally, were mentioned at a PCC meeting when an attempt was made to have the posts and curtains removed and the altars moved forward : the fact that the faculty was extant saw-off attempts to have them removed
+ Official Agreements between Vicars and Organists/Choirmasters regarding the tenure and conditions of the latter.
+ Official Documents signed by Vicars following their "reading themselves in" by swearing Assent to the XXXIX  Articles of Religion.
+ Several colour copies of old pictures of Parish Clergy and activities which Mr C.J. Cooper during his time as Archivist had started to put into frames purchased at his own cost.
+ A tall metal cupboard (not shown in pictures) containing various interesting maps and plans relating to Ashford Parish Church, Christ Church South Ashford, and the details of the sale of the old Mission Church in Forge Lane which is now used by the Scouts.
+ A tin trunk containing various interesting items of paperwork including receipts and items of work carried out on the Parish Church and The College.
+ Two smaller metal cupboards (bought specifically in the 1990's for the acceptable storage of archive material in the room) one containing many 'Register of Services' and Parish Rate books going back to the 1700's, and the other containing many black binders in which were filed lots of loose sheets of all sorts of interesting information, and each item painstakingly catalogued.  This work was accomplished by the late Messrs Cormack, Hall and Mr J. Moon and Canon J.W. Everett.

Herewith, details passed to me by the County Archive (Centre for Kentish Studies) of the list of items transferred to them:
Ashford, St Mary the Virgin no longer wished to maintain their exemption from the requirements of The Parochial Records & Registers Measure (1978) and deposited the following which had formerly been held at the Parish Church at The Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone:

Deposited 22/3/04 - Registers of:
Banns 1754-1805
Baptisms 1813-56
Composite CMB 1570-1693
Burials 1813-1954
Marriages 1754-1984

Deposited 1/7/05 (following return of the Archive keys:)
Overseers Receipts 1785-87
Benevolent Society Accounts & Minutes 1879-1986
File of Building Repairs 1777-1923
Cash Books 1939-48
Charities File 1830-56
Extensions File 1816-1952
Rate Books 1850-68
Churchwardens Receipts 1785-1923
Churchyard Repairs & Fees File 1824-52
District Visiting Society Account Book 1848-64
Ledgers & Offerings Account Book 1856-1953
Overseers Receipts 1786-1829
Poor Rents 1784-94
Rate Books 1836-47
School Cash Books 1897-1903
Service Registers 1888-1994
Poor & Workhouse Files 1785-95

Letter to "The Church Times"

30th January 2006

Dear Sir,

I wish to bring to the attention of your readers some most unfortunate incidents, which show just how low certain Priests are prepared to stoop to rain down their own personal abuses on those who refuse to tow the modernising line. In the space of two years I have had my property (large bits of furniture!) from one belfry removed and dumped outside my front door, at another church because I oppose plans to rip out all the pews, the Priest is attempting to ban me from singing in the choir there and ringing the bells (by a crazy interpretation of Canon F8!), even enlisting the support of his Bishop, but finally another clergyman has put the ‘icing on the cake’ by inconveniencing 8 other bellringers who had travelled a considerable distance by his refusal to ring in a 3 hour peal attempt (just before it was due to start) which he had previously agreed to, because he discovered that I was ringing, and presumably felt that he must display some sort of solidarity towards his ‘moderniser’ friends. My question is: Where will this all end? It’s no wonder that the Church of England can’t get people into the pews when certain Ministers treat full members like me in such a contemptible way for upholding tradition with the utmost vigour. The reason the Church of England is in such a mess is that it has failed to appreciate, teach and use The Book of Common Prayer, Hymns A&M (Standard) Choral Music of a sufficient standard and to insist that all Ministers are taught the worth of BCP doctrine and liturgy and the 39 Articles before they are ordained, and that they fully assent to both. I am 27 years old. It’s time that those clergy nearing retirement moved over from the limelight with all their outdated 1960’s liberalism,and let the younger generation try to pick up the pieces left from the damage that their liberal theology and disuse of the Prayer Book and refusal to be ‘read in’ to their Parish has done.

Yours faithfully

Christopher J. Cooper

Hythe, Kent.