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Profile of Elham with Denton & Wootton, and Acrise.  2015


The Benefice Profile

of Elham with Denton and Wootton, and Acrise


Contents. 0

The Key Summary. 3

St Mary the Virgin Elham.. 4

Our Mission. 4

What we have to offer5

The Wider Context of the Parish. 6

The Buildings. 7

Worship – CURRENT Pattern of services. 8

Music. 9

Worship Leaders. 9

Life of the Church. 10

Occasional Offices for the whole Benefice. 10

Bell Ringers. 11

Social Events. 11

PCC. 13

Finance. 13

Links with the wider world. 13

Communications. 13

St Martin’s – Wootton and St Mary Magdalene – Denton. 14

Our Mission. 14

Electoral Rolls. 14

Parish Profiles. 14

Current Pattern of Services. 14

The Churches. 15

St Mary Magdalene Denton. 15

St Martin’s Wootton. 15

Mission. 15

Worship. 15

Finances. 16

St Martin’s, Acrise with Swingfield. 17

Our Mission. 17

Electoral Roll17

The Team.. 17

Current Pattern of Services. 18

Current Worship. 18


Finances. 18

Friends of St Martin’s. 19

Archdeacon’s Note to Applicants Considering the Post at Elham.. 20

The Key Summary


See also the Archdeacon’s notes on the back page for more detail.

  • The pastoral reorganisation needed to address viability and deployment questions in the Elham Valley, for the medium to long term, is completed. To this end we have implemented a pastoral scheme which includes the appointment of a Half Time stipendiary priest to the Elham Benefice in the context of a Group Ministry in association with the neighbouring Benefice of Lyminge.  There are therefore now three parishes (four Churches) in the new Benefice – Elham, Denton/Wootton and Acrise.
  • We are working on building relationships in mission and ministry within both the Benefice and the Group and we are developing new ways of working with the support of a part time priestly ministry. We are praying for someone who will join us in leading and sharing in that task.
  • We would welcome a male or female priest.
  • All the PCCs in the benefice recognise that administrative support would be an essential for a part time priest, this is under consideration.

1.  Vision of benefice. We recognise that the PCC’s will need to be flexible in negotiating the shape of a part-time ministry in the context of this overarching vision.

  • To share the good news of the Gospel with all, for we are eager for growth.
  • To make our worship welcoming, exciting, reverent and relevant.

2.   What we, the congregations, bring to ministry in church and community:

  • Enthusiastic lay involvement in our regular worship.
  • Wide involvement in the community
  • Good ecumenical relations with the Methodist Church in worship, study Groups, Sunday School, and with the local Roman Catholics.

3.   What we are looking for in a new priest:

  • Someone with a vision and mission to serve in rural churches and villages – to be a prayerful, loving pastor.
  • Someone who will lead us and share the Gospel in new ways with young & old in the community, and in the village church schools. This needs a new working basis for the incoming part time priest.
  • Someone who can be flexible in worship especially for newcomers, whilst respectful of our traditions.


St Mary the Virgin Elham


Our Mission


We are searching for a priest who is friendly, energetic and outgoing; who will participate in        village events and be a presence in the community within the boundaries that a half time offering can allow. The Church of St Mary’s is traditional – the worship is Eucharistic based and vestments are normally worn. We are aware that many on the periphery, who seldom or never come, may find this difficult. We are looking for someone who will maintain and revitalise services that we have for the enthusiastic congregation, but also be willing to develop new styles of worship.

We look upon this ministry as a partnership between the priest and the PCC, and we want to work together to achieve this. We appreciate that we need to take this message out into the community to engage with them.

Judging by the number of families who came to our Crib Service at Christmas (200-250), there is a huge potential to include people of all ages who are seeking a spiritual dimension.

We are seeking someone who will be in the community through a pastoral presence. This visible presence of the church in the community is supported by the Care Circle and by those who administer home communion. The Church School is geographically next to the Vicarage and the link between the church community and school is a top priority.

What we have to offer


Links with the community: Elham is a vibrant busy village with huge potential for the church congregation to grow. The Church is at the centre of the village and is always open during daylight hours for visitors, private prayer, and there is a second hand book store which people visit regularly and it encourages them to come inside the building. Church members are widely involved in village activities and societies, and we have a representative on the Village Hall Committee. The Village Magazine, delivered free to all households, has a “Church Matters” page.

Church School: We have an excellent Church of England School in the village. A new Headmaster, Mr Dan File has recently arrived. The Incumbent is ex officio a School Governor and is welcomed in taking an active part in School Assemblies. The Church hosts many regular School services and events. The already strong links need to be encouraged, but a large number of children do come from outside the village boundary. 

The Headteacher writes:   “As a Church of England Aided Primary School, Elham Primary’s ethos and morals are centred on key Christian values.  We enjoy our links with St Mary’s Church and visit often. We would like to strengthen these links with our new vicar. We hope that he or she will be able to lead weekly collective worship in our school and also in St Mary’s Church, when possible. The children would like someone with a sense of fun and someone who can make assemblies interesting and inspiring, linking to the modern global community. We would also value someone who can contribute to the everyday learning in our school by visiting outside of worship times.”

A beautiful mediaeval church – well maintained and a lovely modern vicarage.

Good links with the MethodistChurch, the Roman Catholics, and a Bible Study group led by a local Baptist.  Regular Prayer breakfast in Methodist Church Hall, every 2/3 months which are well attended.

Well organised and enthusiastic Church, with established committees organizing most of church life, for example a Worship Committee, and a Social & Fundraising Committee. There are also the “Friends of St Mary’s” raising money for church maintenance – recently redecorated the interior and provided new flood lights outside.

BUT we need an inspirational leader, who will be welcomed by the enthusiastic PCCs and congregations to work closely together and help us all to flourish.


The Wider Context of the Parish


Set in the beautiful Elham Valley running between Canterbury and Folkestone, Elham is a picturesque and vibrant village yet is only one hour by fast train from London and 45 minutes by Eurotunnel from the Continent. The ancient cathedral city of Canterbury and the bustling port of Dover are 30 minutes by car as is Ashford International Station providing another link with Europe via Eurostar.

With the fast rail link to London it would be possible for a spouse to maintain a professional or working link in London.

  • Map of wider area & parish.  There is a good bus service every hour to Folkestone & Canterbury.
  • Social Geography.  Elham is 10 miles equidistant between Canterbury, Folkestone and Ashford. The population is approx.  1500, a mixture of retired & young families and part of Shepway District Council based in Folkestone.  The parish extends beyond the village to include houses and farms in the surrounding rolling chalk down land in the County of Kent – renowned as the Garden of England with its stunning weald & hop farms. Elham has 2 Public Houses, 1 hotel/restaurant, 1 cafe open 7 days / week, 1 village shop, estate agent & P/O held 3 mornings /week in the Kings Arms in the Square.
  • Economy.   Farming. Many commute to work in Canterbury/Folkestone. An increasing number work from home or have an office in village. A large number are retired.
  • Leisure facilities.  A new Village Hall was built at the time of the millennium with superb facilities on the north side of the village. The village hall is the centre for many social activities and the church uses the hall as well as the church building. There are thriving cricket, tennis and football clubs, & other sports activities at the village hall which also hosts adult education courses. East Kent Hunt have their kennels here. A flourishing Gardening Society with many events in the village and organised outings. Lace making, Art Classes, a Historical Society & for the younger ones we have Guides & Brownies who regularly participate in Village life and go camping further afield in the summer. At the last count there were over 60 village societies or groups!
  • Education.   An excellent C of E (aided) Primary School in village – also in nearby Lyminge and Barham. Kent is one of the few remaining counties to still have Grammar Schools. GoodState secondary schools in Canterbury/ Folkestone with bus access. 3 well known Public Schools in Canterbury. Canterbury has 2 large universities – University of Kent & ChristchurchUniversity as well as CanterburyCollege. Kent still has a school selection process.
  • Health.   A  Doctors Surgery is in the village. Large District Hospitals in Ashford (William Harvey), Canterbury (Kent & Canterbury), and Margate (QEQM) all under a single Hospital Trust.
  • Parish boundaries.  The parishes of Denton and Wootton are about 5 miles over the hill by road from Elham. These churches have become one parish.  The parish of Acrise which has just become part of the Benefice is on the boundary of Elham parish to the east. Regular joint Churchwardens meetings are held. There are Joint Benefice services about 6 times per year at present but we know that the pattern of worship may need to be reviewed in the light of who is appointed and their availability across the week.

The Ukulele Group

The Buildings

The church:   

Both village and church have ancient origins. The manor of Elham was one of those bequeathed by William the Conqueror to his half- brother Odo of Bayeux after the Norman Conquest. The Saxon church was rebuilt by the Normans. It is situated on one side of the old market square, about 50 metres away from the “main” road through the village.

Although altered and added to over the centuries the building is in good repair, and has been lovingly cared for. It can seat about 180 people comfortably. A large amount of internal work was done about 100 years ago by the architect F.C.Eden together with the incumbent Alard de Bourbel.  It is highly regarded by both English Heritage and the Victorian Society, and is featured in Simon Jenkins’ book England’s 1000 Best Churches. The pews can be moved to provide a large community space for village and church events.

Clergy House:

Elham vicarage, built during the 1960’s, stands in well- proportioned private and safe gardens to front and rear set back from Vicarage Lane and yet in a central position in the village. The accommodation is well balanced and flexible with the ability to be used as a 5 bedroom family house, or a 4 bedroom house with guest accommodation.  The original glazing has recently been replaced with quality UPVC throughout, and during this Interregnum much work has been completed with additional insulation and a new oil fired boiler.

The accommodation consists of the following:

GROUND FLOOR:     Spacious entrance hall, cloakroom, sitting room, dining room, modern kitchen, utility, 3rd reception /bedroom 5 (plumbing for shower available), study and store room, integral garage.

FIRST FLOOR:    Galleried Landing, 2 double bedrooms and 2 single bedrooms, bathroom with power shower over bath and separate WC.

OUTSIDE:   Store/machinery shed.

Church Hall:

Built at the same time as the Clergy House and situated on the main road through the village, this can cater for gatherings of about 40-50 people and has toilets and a small kitchen. There is a 3 bedroom flat above, currently let, and a reasonable garden.

WorshipCURRENTPattern of services


               8.00 am    CW2     Holy Communion

               9.30 am    CW1     Parish Sung Eucharist


On a 5th Sunday - Benefice Service, rotating between the 4 churches and the Cathedral.


9.00am: Morning Prayer daily.

Friday Candle – 15 mins silent prayer for current issues.


Sundays average 70 approx. Christmas – Crib Service 200 -- 250 / Midnight Mass 120 – 150 per service.

Other Worship

·        Taize 2/3 per year.  25 – 40

·        Joint services with Methodists – about 6 per year. Good Friday/Harvest etc

·        A Crib service on Christmas Eve – with donkey and the children dress up.

·        Palm Sunday procession with donkey

·        Pet Service

·        Horse & Rider service in Square.

·        Occasional Sunday morning prayer

·        Remembrance Sunday with British Legion

·        Rogation Sunday Walk to Benefice Churches.

·        Occasional Drama & music with pews cleared and participation with                                                children as a fun act of Worship – e.g. “Joshua”.



Horse & Rider Service                                                           


Choir – Experienced organist & choirmaster & composer – 18 in choir.

Hymn Books – English Hymnal, Hymns & Psalms in rotation.

Eucharist settings – 4 in rotation (2 composed by our organist)

Worship Leaders

Lay intercessors/lesson readers/administration of chalice on rota and an enthusiastic group of 12 Servers on a rota (4 per team)

Non Eucharistic – Members of Worship Committee & others who also   organize Taize services.        


Home Communion

Taken by Priest/ lay people each week as required (rota) Ministry Team

·        Priest in charge (part time; to be appointed)

·        2 retired Assistant Priests

·        1 retired teacher - SSM who lives in Elham, attached to a parish in Folkestone

·        Worship Committee which helps plan services, Taize and non – Eucharistic services and meets four times per year.

·        A dedicated team of Sacristans who prepare vestments and vessels for the Eucharist.

Life of the Church


·        Electoral Roll in Elham – 119

·        Population of Elham – 1500 approx

·        Sunday School – joint with the Methodist Church. Meet in St Mary’s Hall & come into the two churches alternate weeks.

·        Servers – group of 12 organized by Head Server who also have occasional social events.

·        Discussion Groups – not on a regular basis, but Joint Lent Groups with Methodists in 2014. York Course “Build on the Rock – Faith, doubt, Jesus”. New groups planned for 2015 “Songs of praise in the New Testament”.

·        Guides/Brownies – No direct link but organized by one of our members.


Occasional Offices for the whole Benefice  



In 2014:              Baptisms - 5

Weddings - 8

Funerals - 12


Bell Ringers


A new Tower Captain and Steeple Keeper have recently taken over.  We have 8 bells and there is renewed enthusiasm.


Social Events


The Social & Fundraising Committee organise regular events during the year e.g.


·        Flower  Festivals

·        A Harvest Soiree with Supper in Church (pews can be moved)

·        Auction of Promises

·        Jumble Sale in Church

·        refreshments for village events e.g. Boxing Day Hunt etc.





Sometimes these events are held in the Church, sometimes in the Village Hall.





A village farmers market is held twice a year in Square where we provide refreshments.


When the church is cleared of pews this provides a wonderful community space. In 2014, the Christmas Market will use this with many of the stalls inside the church.


FAQs – An initiative of St Mary’s to the wider community to discuss important issues of our Day. Held in Village hall/pub/school. Topics discussed include Environment, Stem Cell Research, Dr John Polkinghorne on Science & Religion, Baroness Cox on world poverty etc.


Friends of St Mary’s –   A very enthusiastic group with their own chairman & committee whose aim is to raise money through subscriptions & social events, to support the fabric of the church. Recent projects: new floodlighting, redecoration of the interior of the church and clearing the churchyard.        


Lent Lunches – during Lent in the Methodist Hall – donations to Christian Aid.




Each parish in the benefice has its own PCC. The Elham PCC meets six times per year.

The PCC has the following subcommittees which meet separately and report to the PCC.



·        Worship Committee – Meets about 4 times per year to plan all aspects of Worship.

·        Care Circle – to visit and support the sick, the housebound and those in need.

·        Social & Fundraising – see above.

·        Church Hall - Looks after maintenance, letting, & flat above hall which is rented out.

·        School Governors

·        Sunday School

·        Education & FAQs

·        Bell Ringers

·        Friends of St Mary’s



2013 – overall income £55,000 of which £23,000 was planned giving, and the remainder recovered  tax, Church  collections, donations, fundraising and rent from Church Hall flat.

Outgoings £71,000, the greatest part of this being the Parish Quota.

Number of covenanted standing orders per month is 27.

Number of regular weekly envelopes on top of this averages 11.

Links with the wider world


Rainbow Centre in Folkestone – We support this financially & also with regular gifts of food etc. during the year.

Christmas Hampers for Socially deprived in Folkestone – help financially at Christmas.

Advent/Christmas Charity – each year we support giving abroad to a small charity with local connection.  In 2013 to Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (Baroness Cox from FAQ’s meeting)

In 2014 to the Community Radio Project for those in need on our doorstep in Folkestone.    


John Williams Trust – money left in trust to provide education for poor children. Now used to give educational grants to youngsters living in the village and often going on to Further Education.   Under the terms of the Trust, 50 % of the annual allocation must be given to Support the village church school.



We have an excellent and informative website: Elham Church News is sent by email. Regular news, service details and special events are circulated by email to interested parties. A weekly bulletin is published for Sunday worship.


St Martin’s – Wootton and St Mary Magdalene – Denton


Our Mission


The post holder will be Priest in Charge of both Churches – now a single parish following the reorganisation of the Benefice and we look forward to developing a sustainable pattern of ministry given the half time nature of the post.


Electoral Rolls

Denton: 19

Wootton: 20

Parish Profiles

Current Pattern of Services




1115                    1st Sunday of the month              Holy Communion/New Day at St Mary’s Denton

1115                    2nd Sunday of the month             Holy Communion at St Martin’s Wootton

1115                    3rd Sunday of the month              Holy Communion at St Mary’s Denton

1115                    4th Sunday of the month              Holy Communion/Wootton Worship at St Martin’s Wootton                             

1000                    5th Sunday of the Month              Holy Communion Benefice Service, alternating

                                                                                          through the four parishes


On alternate months the 1st Sunday is a New Day service at Denton and on the 3rd Sunday of the following month there is a Wootton Worship service at Wootton.


Wootton Worship and New Day services are non-Eucharistic and follow a similar pattern of hymns, readings, sermon and prayers, lasting about 45 minutes.  The aim of these services is to encourage parishioners who are more comfortable with a non-Eucharistic service to attend church.  Refreshments are served at the end of the service.

The Churches

St Mary Magdalene Denton

The earliest reference to the hamlet of Denton is a charter of 799 AD wherein the name occurs as Denetun.  There can be little doubt that Denton church is of Saxon foundation, however, there are no visible signs today.


The present church is largely of early 13th century construction as evidenced by the simple form of the building itself, the chancel arch and the lancet windows which occur in both the chancel and nave.  Most of the lancet windows have been renewed at a later date but the building remains typically characteristic of the small English village church of the period.

St Martin’s Wootton


The earliest recorded reference to the village of Wootton is in a charter of 687 AD wherein the name occurs as Uudeton.  Wootton is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, but the church occurs in the Domesday Monachorum in the list of priests and churches paying customary to the Archbishop of Canterbury.  We can, therefore, say with some assurance that Wootton church is of Saxon foundation, however there are no visible signs of the remains today.


The church is largely of 13th century construction with lancet windows in both the nave and chancel.  The church was restored by public subscription in 1879.  There is one working bell in working order, made by Joseph Hatch in 1629.




Denton and Wootton are small and rural villages but both have active and dedicated communities who are passionate about preserving their country way of life. Both parishes look forward to welcoming a priest who would have a visible presence, build relationships locally and enjoy sharing village life with the residents.




St Martin’s and St Mary’s have small but dedicated congregations who support the services and the general running of the church.  Average attendance throughout the year is 15 and this includes members from both parishes.  More attend festival services such as Christmas, Easter, Harvest, Patronal and Remembrance. The congregation, who tend to be of mature years, prefer traditional services but also enjoy the variety offered by the other services in the Benefice.  The Wootton Worship and New Day services have been particularly successful and members of the congregation play an active part in the worship.  Although the average size of congregations is small the village population support both churches financially and are actively involved in fund raising.  St Martin’s has a part time organist supplemented by an HT-300 Hymnal Plus, St Mary’s has a full time organist. 



St Martin’s has two accounts, a General Fund and a Churchyard & Church Fabric Fund.


The General Fund currently stands at £23,000 of which £19,000 is invested and the Church Churchyard and Fabric fund is worth £8,500 which is all invested.  The annual average income is £6,000 with an expenditure of roughly the same.  In 2012 there was a small excess of expenditure (£669) over income.


St Mary’s has a Business (Current) account of approximately £3,500 and £5,800 on deposit with CCLA.  Bequests amounting to £44,000 are invested in a Unit Trust.

St Martin’s, Acrise with Swingfield



Our Mission

  • To spread the good news of the Gospel to all.
  • To offer fellowship to an isolated community of all ages.
  • To offer a place of worship to those who feel drawn to the Book of Common Prayer as their main worship style.


Being a hamlet Acrise has a very small community. However, the congregation of St Martin’s at Acrise is drawn from a very wide area, with people travelling from Hawkinge, Swingfield, Denton, Folkestone, Alkham, Capel-le-Ferne and many parts of the Elham valley to seek the style of worship and friendly welcoming congregation at this church.


Our mission is inclusively to spread the good news far and wide, supporting all ages by offering a traditional service and fellowship.

Electoral Roll

 St Martin’s current electoral roll stands at 44.

The Team

  • Local retired PTO Minister
  • 2 x Lay readers
  • 2 x Churchwardens
  • A full and active PCC.



Current Pattern of Services


St Martin’s, Acrise holds Holy Communion and Matins services on alternate Sundays.


The First Sunday of every month and any special festivals, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and Mothering Sunday are all Holy Communion held at 09:30.


All other weekly services start at 08:45. With occasional “specials” in the afternoon; examples of these would be Taize services, Good Friday meditation and passion, 9 lessons and Carols for advent and Christmas.  

Current Worship


Worship at the church is led by a local PTO Minister who as a retired priest offers his services out of love for this congregation. He would like to continue to offer ministry for as long as he is able to do so. He is ably supported by two lay ministers.


Services usually follow the Book of Common Prayer. However alternative forms of worship have been used including; Taize, Lessons and Carols and Hymn Sandwiches.


All ages are welcome to our services with children mixing with retired people freely.


The congregation varies depending on the service start times. The 08:45 services attract an attendance numbering in the upper 20’s with the 09:30 service attracting in the upper 40’s. Last Christmas the church was full with an attendance of 60+ worshippers.


Weddings and christenings have been held in the church over the last year. 



St Martin’s, Acrise has a varied social life. Including the Flower Festival, annual ‘Beating the Bounds’ walk, a patronal breakfast, annual cycle ride, coffee evenings/mornings, Harvest Festival and refreshments after Holy Communion.



The congregation offers a healthy plate collection each week supported by planned giving by standing order. Gift aid is used by many donors. The main church fund raising events of the year are the annual flower festival which is held on the first weekend in August each year and our Christmas church fete which is usually held in Elham village hall.  These raise sufficient funds to pay our parish share in full, maintain our beautiful building and to allow support to charities each year.



Friends of St Martin’s


There is an active Friends of St Martin’s fund raising and support club. 

“St Martin’s Church, Acrise, dating back some 900 years, continues to retain the simplicity and atmosphere of its original early Norman construction. Comprised of a nave and chancel, topped by massive wooden tie beams and king posts, it lies quietly hidden from the road. Approached through an avenue of trees, rooks seemingly act as sentinels, protecting the small church and ancient yard they have chosen as their home”.


Archdeacon’s Note to Applicants Considering the Post at Elham


The Elham Deanery has in the last couple of years been making many changes through pastoral reorganisation. This has been necessary in order to address a number of sustainability questions across the Deanery.

The Elham Benefice has been involved in this along with other rural parishes within the Elham Valley. In addition we have made a realignment for the parish of Acrise (nearer Folkestone and previously coupled with Hawkinge which is the site of a rapidly developing ‘small town’).

The result of these changes will achieve the following:

  • The hamlet parish church of Acrise will join with Elham, Denton and Wootton in a new multi-parish rural benefice with a population of approximately 3500 people.
  • A Group Ministry will be formed comprising the new Elham Benefice and the present Lyminge Benefice similarly configured in 3 parishes. The Benefice population there is approximately 2700
  • The new post delivered by scheme at Elham will be a 0.5 FTE post.
  • The Group will eventually incorporate the further reduction of the Lyminge post also to a 0.5 FTE post (currently 1 FTE post). This will occur upon the resignation or retirement of the present incumbent priest. This change is agreed by both Deanery and Benefice.
  • This new deployment of staff is sustainable and maintains a good missional presence of stipendiary ministry in the Elham Valley.
  • The Archdeacon has asked that facilitation is offered to the congregations of the Group Ministry in addressing the formation and development of the Group. This work has begun and will take time to evolve.

It is essential that clergy interested in applying for this new 0.5FTE post at Elham have in mind the following ministry and missional points:

·        The formation of a Group Ministry necessitates the regular meeting together of the licensed ministers involved for the better sharing and planning of mission across the area of the Group.

·        The long term development of lay ministry across the Group Ministry is essential to the wellbeing of the ministry and mission of these small village churches. This is consistent with the aspirational diocesan objective of ‘reimagining ministry’.

·        Collaborative ministry skills are essential.

·        Strong relational skills are essential both in terms of relations within the Group and Benefice but also in terms of church-village relations. The post requires a strong pastor!

·        The exploration of opportunities in the area of ‘communities and partnership’ is a priority for the mission of these churches.

·        The Priest in Charge needs to have a passion for growing churches and helping the congregations to address this as a priority of mission.


Philip Down

Archdeacon of Ashford – March 2015