Eight hundred years ago the first Rector of Kettering was appointed and the present day congregation will be celebrating the anniversary in 2020 with a series of events.
The Church of St Peter & St Paul in Market Place, Kettering is often referred to by the people of the town as the ‘Parish Church’.
Although there are actually five Anglican parish churches in Kettering, St Peter & St Paul is the oldest and the most familiar.
The parish comprises two churches – St Peter & Paul in the town centre and daughter church, St Michael and All Angels in Garfield Street.
St Peter & St Paul has stood on the present site for over 500 years, and has been at the centre of community life throughout that time.
A Grade I listed building, it is a fine example of perpendicular architecture. The tower and iconic spire stand 180 feet (55mm) in height acting as a sign of Christian worship across the town over the centuries.
Little is known of the origins of the church but its first known priest became rector in 1220. It is this anniversary which will be celebrated starting on Sunday, June 21 when the Bishop of Peterborough, The Rt Revd Donald Allister will lead a service of thanksgiving at the Patronal Festival.
The two-week-long celebrations will culminate on Sunday, July 4 with a songs of praise service. A packed programme of events will include concerts, a flower festival, local history workshops, an art competition, church tours, food, drink and a stage show called ‘Rebel Rectors’ a dramatic exploration of the former rectors of Kettering - the good, the bad and the ugly.
Members of the public are being urged to join in the celebrations and to put the dates in their diaries in order to take part in the anniversary.
Current Rector of Kettering, Revd David Walsh, said: “We’ve decided as a church that one of our priorities is to help Kettering rediscover its heart and soul.
“We want to work with others to help make that happen and so I’m delighted that next year we’ll be partnering with KettFest 2020 and other key players in the town’s life.
“Heart and soul are a large part of what the church is about and our 800th anniversary gives us a chance to help the town remember what really matters. I hope we can involve as many people as possible - do please get in touch if you’re interested.”
Co-organisers of Kettering 800 are Rev Dr Carys Walsh, wife of the present rector and Jo Pearce whose husband Frank was rector from April 1970 until November 1994.
Carys said: “It’s going to be a great way for the church and all the people of Kettering to come together to celebrate this amazing anniversary.”
Jo Pearce said: “I came here 49 years ago and I love Kettering and its community.
“St Peter & St Paul, Kettering will always have a very special place in my heart.
“The church means so many things to so many people and we want to share that with the town.”
Already under way are the 800 Memory Project and 800 prayers for Kettering.
Elizabeth Booth, a professional archivist, will record people’s memories of the Kettering and the parish.
Anyone with memories they would like to share can email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject headed ‘Memory Project’.
Elizabeth said: “I’m really excited about the project.
“I’ve only lived in Kettering for three years and I’m looking forward to recording the memories of people from Kettering and getting to know my community.”
The 800 Prayers for Kettering Project will result in St Peter & St Paul being festooned with 800 prayer flags next year.
People in Kettering, and beyond, can contribute a prayer flag which can have a personal message of hope and prayers for loved ones, Kettering or the world in general.
People wishing to make a prayer flag can call Anne on 07914 616643.
For all enquiries and further information email email@example.com. For details and interviews contact organiser of Kettering 800, Rev Dr Carys Walsh on 07956 026829 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.