A RECORD congregation of 219 worshippers packed into St Margaret’s Church, Catmore.
The occasion was Carols by Candlelight, held at 3pm every Christmas Eve.
But it was even more special than usual because it was the last over which the Rev John Townend presided.
The previous record congregation of 197 was for Mr Townend’s first carol service in 2001.
Churchwarden David Gardiner said: “This year was Mr Townend’s last service at Catmore, as he retires next April, and there was a determination to get more than 200.
“In the event, there was a new record congregation of 219.
“People stood everywhere, from the altar to the porch, tightly packed.
“Not many churches need a shoehorn.”
He added: “With that number in the marvellous acoustics of Catmore church, the rendering of the carols was superb.”
St Margaret’s, built in 1175, is a Grade I-listed building.
In 1999 it was invested into The Churches Conservation Trust, which now looks after it.
It has no electricity, and lighting is by chandeliers, made from the iron tyres of cartwheels, suspended from the roof, with candles mounted on them.
It has three services a year, the biggest being the Carols by Candlelight.
At the end of the service, a Churches Conservation Trust director, Colin Shearer, presented a certificate of appreciation to Mr Townend, recognising his 15 years of service to two of the trust’s churches, in Catmore and East Shefford.