HUNGERFORD’S beautiful St Lawrence Church is 200 years old.
And on Sunday the town celebrated the occasion with a special service, conducted by the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Rev Andrew Proud, and by the present incumbent, the Rev Mike Saunders.
The occasion was also marked by the blessing, by the bishop, of 200 gift-wrapped Bibles which were distributed to the congregation.
This was followed by a communion service, with readings from the new Bibles and a sermon by the bishop on the theme of ‘goodwill to fellow men and you’.
After the service, Mr Saunders presented the bishop with a St Lawrence coffee mug to remind him of Hungerford when partaking of his favourite Ethiopian coffee blend.
According the Hungerford Virtual Museum, St Lawrence was the Archdeacon of Rome
in the middle of the third century, at a time when Christians were being grievously persecuted.
He was especially responsible for the treasures of the churches in the city.
When the prefect of Rome called upon him to surrender them, he asked for three days grace.
He is said to have then distributed the gold and silver in his care to the needy of the city and, on the third day, he collected together all the
poorest Christians, including the lame, maimed and blind, and, presenting them to the prefect, said: “Here are the treasures of the Church of Christ.”
For this he was condemned to death and suffered martyrdom on the gridiron on August 10, 258.
The current church was opened in August, 1816, and was built on the site of two earlier churches.