+ Saint Giles Church, Langford
Sunday 21st of July 2019
Picture: A Statue of Saint Giles.

'Heavenly Supplies' Community Shop at St. Giles' Church in Langford.

In 2007 the Essex Matters magazine ran a competition which asked "What would you do for your community if you had 10,000?" As the deadline was fast approaching, our Churchwarden, Irene Allen, sent in an entry saying that she would like to extend the use of the parish church to include a small shop as our own village stores had shut down some 20 years before. Irene was delighted to hear that her idea had been short listed, but staggered to find that it was one of the winning entries!

Heavenly Supplies, OPEN sign.

Irene said "As I never win anything, I hadn't mentioned the project to anyone else, so had to ring the Archdeacon to see if he would be agreeable to the idea, and fortunately he was very supportive." Since then it has been a slow process getting all the necessary permissions from the church and the local council, and it entailed a great many meetings with organisations whose existence had been unknown until this venture. The whole village was canvassed on its views about the shop, and a meeting was held to discuss it. Volunteers were recruited to help man the shop, and a list of stock was worked out.

Local landowner, Ted Watson, whose property abuts onto the churchyard, very kindly gave us the end of his field to use as a car park, and facility has been a godsend, not only for the shop, but also for church events and meetings, and we are very grateful to him. Without this wonderful addition we would have had to park on the very busy Maldon Road, which is extremely dangerous, especially as the cars seem not to heed any speed limits!

Car Parking - thanks to Ted Watson

It was decided to set the shop up in the Vestry so as to minimise its impact on the worshipping space of the church, and indeed, when the Vestry door is shut you wouldn't know there was a shop there at all as seen below!

An oak-panelled wall with the vestry door set into it.

This decision entailed clearing the Vestry of all its safes and filing cabinets, and bespoke shelving to fit the limited space available was made by local joiner, Kevin Gribble. Being a Grade II star listed building, it was essential that the shop was formulated in such a way that if it proved unsuccessful, the Vestry could be returned to its original state without any trace that the shop had been there at all.

But when the door of the Vestry is open, it reveals the 'Aladdin's cave' that is 'Heavenly Supplies'

St. Giles' church, unfortunately, has no space to store anything, but there was a redundant tortoise stove in the boiler room underneath the Vestry. As this had rusted through, permission was sought to remove it and make the space available for storage. This was granted, and we now have a good storage space with superb lighting. This enables us to buy in bulk and store until required, thereby keeping prices down!

Eventually on Thursday 5th March 2009, 'Heavenly Supplies' was officially opened by Councillor Rodney Bass. The sun shone for us, local radio and television stations came to report on it, and the village was buzzing with excitement.

A crowd of people outside the Church for the opening of Heavenly Supplies

The shop has been up and running for over a year now, and we are settling down into a pattern of working. Volunteers are always difficult to come by as most of us either work full-time or have very busy lives; half-terms and school holidays are also problems that have to be overcome, but we manage - somehow. We were honoured to have our Area Bishop - Bishop Laurie Green - come to visit us to celebrate our year's anniversary, and that was a joyous occasion.

'Heavenly Supplies' stocks the usual groceries, but also locally sourced produce - jam from Tiptree, honey from Hatfield Peverel, free-range eggs from Wickham Bishops, and hand-made sausages from 'Totham Bangers'! We also provide organic fruit and vegetables in season, and a range of locally made crafts.

We also provide tea and coffee to our customers, and are always happy to have a chat and make new friends, so why not come and see what we have to offer and discuss your requirements over a cuppa?

Also Available.

Mug A.
picture: a coffee mug with a piture of St. Giles Church on one side and St. Giles Church in writing onthe other side.

Mug B.
picture: a coffee mug with a piture of St. Giles Church on one side and St. Giles Church in writing onthe other side.

The price is £7 each.

UK delivery by Second Class Post:
1 mug £2.00
2 mugs £2.50
3 mugs £3.00
4 mugs £4.50 by Parcel Post.

Available from:
Mrs. Irene Allen, 11 Ulting Lane, Langford, Maldon, Essex CM9 6QB.
Tel: Maldon (01621) 855447.