Category Archives: News

Benefice Safeguarding Policy

The PCC’s of all our parishes in Hever, Markbeech and Four Elms operate under the guidelines laid down by the House of Bishops Safeguarding Policy for children, young people and adults. The PCCs adopts the policy annually and receive regular updates throughout the year.

The care and protection of children, young people and adults involved in Church activities is the responsibility of everyone who participates in the life of the Church.

Our Commitments:

  • Promoting a safer environment and culture
  • Safely recruiting and supporting all those with any responsibility related to children and vulnerable adults
  • Responding promptly to every safeguarding concern or allegation
  • Caring pastorally for victims/ survivors of abuse or other affected persons
  • Caring pastorally for those who are the subject of concern / allegations of abuse and other affected persons
  • Responding to those that may pose a present risk.

If you are concerned that someone you know is at risk of, or is being abused or presents a risk to others, please seek advice from the Safeguarding Officer or if necessary report the matter to the Local Authority Social Care Service or the Police without delay.

Local contacts:

Markbeech Safeguarding Officer: Lucy Shrapnell West.

Mobile: 07740 300023 / email:

Hever and Four Elms Safeguarding Officer: Julie May.

Mobile: 07973581952 /email:

Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser

Janice Keen – 01634-560000 /

Other Helplines:

NSPCC: 0808 800 5000

Childline: 0800 1111

Stop it Now: 0808 1000 900

NAPAC: 0808 801 0331

Samaritans: 116 123

Family Lives: 0808 800 2222

National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247

Action on Elder Abuse: 0808 808 8141


Benefice Privacy Policy

As you know, data protection laws are changing on 25th May 2018 and we have produced a privacy notice so that you are clear how we use your information. Please ensure that you read our Privacy Notice.

The committee has considered the implications of the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into force in May 2018.

The United Benefice respects the privacy of its parishioners and anyone who has requested its services and this policy explains the steps that it will always take to protect and keep secure the personal information it holds.

The United Benefice works on behalf of the parishioners and anyone who requested its services. We use your personal data to enable us to provide services upon your request and to administer parishioners’ records.

To enable us to provide the church services you requested (wedding, baptism, funeral, confirmation), The United Benefice needs to collect and process personal data from its parishioners and anyone who has requested its services. The personal data held consists of titles, names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

The committee has considered the impact of the GDPR and agrees that the United Benefice has a legitimate interest in holding this personal data. The United Benefice uses the personal data that it holds, in a way they would reasonably expect and which has a minimal privacy impact.

To comply with the law, The United Benefice must have a data protection policy.  The committee has considered this and agrees to adopt the following policy to ensure that personal data is collected and used fairly, stored safely and not disclosed to any other person unlawfully.

Data protection policy:

  • Personal data will only be collected it if is relevant and limited to what is necessary to collect to help The United Benefice communicate with the parishioners and anyone requesting its services and for it to meet its stated aim.
  • Personal data will be treated as strictly confidential and will only be shared with other people who work on behalf of the United Benefice in order to carry out services connected to the church activity.
  • The United Benefice will never pass personal data to a third party without consent.
  • Parishioners and anyone requesting its services shall be made aware of their rights (for example, by adding a notice at the bottom of email communication advising people how to resume communication with the United Benefice).
  • The United Benefice shall take reasonable steps to ensure the personal data it holds is accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date.
  • Personal data will be kept for as long as needed.
  • Personal data will be deleted upon request.
  • Personal data will be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security (for example, by storing contact details in a password protected electronic file and a screensaver, hard copies will be held in a locked office and when emails are sent to people who do not know each other, these should be Bcc’d to ensure their email addresses are kept private. Another example is to delete old emails to/from people as most emails contain personal information).
  • The United Benefice will endeavour to ensure all people working on behalf of it (the Priest in charge, the church wardens, the members of the PCC, safeguarding officer and choir organiser, the benefice administrator, the organist, the bellringers and any volunteers) are aware of this policy and adhere to it.

The committee agrees that it will include a privacy notice on the website and in email communications.  This will state:

“We will keep your personal details safe and secure.  We will not share them without your agreement and if you want us to stop contacting you, please ask.

The data protection regulation requires that parishioners and anyone who requests the services of The United Benefice are informed about the personal details The United Benefice holds on them. This information is held for a legitimate interest to ensure The United Benefice can carry out services connected to the church activity. Should anyone no longer wish to be contacted by The United Benefice, please contact Ana Roxburgh on

Prayers of Intercession MB 15 October

Heavenly Father, we come together in this peaceful place to feel your presence within us, hear these words of comfort and joy and to give thanks for all that we are blessed with in our lives.  We thank you Lord for the beauty of this place and the seasons that we are so lucky to enjoy .  We thank you for the soil that grows our crops, the grass that feeds our animals and the trees that feed the air.  Help us to hold the principles of good ecological management in our hearts, Lord, in caring for this land for future generations. 

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

Dear Lord, we give thanks for our friends, family and community in Markbeech, Hever and Four Elms and for the pleasure of our Harvest festivities.  We give thanks for the committed and spiritual leadership of Wendy.  Lord, Guide us to be more sensitive to the needs of our neighbours and in our dealings with each other, teach us to listen, and teach us to forgive.  Teach us to understand, and teach us to love. 

Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

Heavenly father, we give thanks for Jill’s recovery from her operation and we pray that her faith in you, Lord, continues to be strong and carries her through the treatment that is now to follow.  We pray too for Len that his leg may be healed and that he may be made strong again to enjoy his remaining years in full health.  We pray for all others suffering poor health, please call out the names of those close to you so that we can take a moment to pray for them as well: …

We pray too, for ourselves and remember the comforting words of Paul:  ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Dear Lord, we pray for a troubled world and for all those less fortunate than ourselves.  Today, let us pray especially for refugees and those seeking a better way of life.  We give thanks for the recent rescue of over 600 people from Africa and for the 150,000 migrants that are being cared for by non-profit aid groups in Italy and Greece.  We pray Lord for their safety and for our compassion in their plight.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Heavenly father, we remember all those that we have loved who are now in your tender care.  Help us to keep the good memories of our time together sweet, and to allow sour memories to be buried.

Merciful Father …

Nicola Talbot

Church warden at Holy Trinity Markbeech

Visit to Hever Church

A group from Holy Trinity Church, Upper Tooting, London visited St Peter’s Hever a few weeks ago. They have sent us a letter and some pictures that we would very much like to share with you.
“We enjoyed our visit to St Peter’s Church very much last Saturday – thank you.  There was time for everyone to have a good look round and then we had prayers before setting off for Chiddingstone and Penshurst finishing at Leigh.  Here are some photos of us taken inside and outside the church.
IMG_5762 The HT Walkers at St. Peter_s Church, Hever-1
IMG_5764 The HT Walkers at St. Peter_s Church, Hever-1
We couldn’t have had better weather – warm sunshine most of the way with only one, fairly short-lived, shower very near the end of the walk.  Last year we had rain from beginning to end so it was quite a relief!”

Vacancy on Hever Parish Council

There is a Vacancy on Hever Parish Council – for a Councillor who can represent the views of those living / working in Four Elms and also work with the planning committee. We are a friendly and pro active parish Council. Meetings are approx. once every 2 months in the evenings. Please contact the clerk ( for more information or with any queries. Our next meeting is 18th July 7.30pm Hever Village Hall.

Nicola Talbot’s May Link magazine letter

We have a lot of family chat around our house that regularly comes back to the question of my seemingly unerring faith in God. One discussion started thus: “So, Granny, I think all those Greek gods were much more interesting – what’s wrong with them and how can you just believe in ‘God’?”

I didn’t have an instant answer, of course, probably replying ‘I just do’. But now I’ve thought about it a bit more, so here’s my answer. The stories of the Greek gods were spread by word and they were indeed fantastic. According to ancient philosophy the first appearance of a single God was not in Jewish scripture but in the writings of the Greek philosopher Plato who wrote in the early 4th century BC, who took his ideas from Thales. Plato proposed that nature can be explained by reference to a single unitary principle that pervades everything.

To cut a long story short, along came St Paul and convinced the Greeks into a monotheistic, one god above all religion. How did he do that? Well, there are many great and learned essays that can help us understand. But I go for the simplest, and always return to my garden for the answer. We know from observing our gardens that nature is indeed regular but we are also aware of mutations in that regularity some for the good and some for the worse. St Paul taught that faith extols everything and has the ability to overturn regularity.

As Jesus told Doubting Thomas “Blessed are those who believe without seeing”. So I return to my original answer: I just do (believe, that is).

Nicki Talbot

Church warden

Holy Trinity, Markbeech


Hever Christmas Fair 2016

A big THANK YOU to everyone who baked, helped set up, tidied up, shopped, sponsored and came to support our Christmas Fair at Hever Castle & Gardens! Once again we managed to raise over £5,000 for our local church and school and we are really pleased with the result! Thank you, thank you all!!!!

Bishopscourt Open Garden day

On Saturday 14th May the lovely gardens of the residence of the Bishop of Rochester will be open to the public in support of Christian Aid.

Bishopscourt Open Garden for Christian Aid at Bishopscourt, 24 St Margaret’s Street, Rochester, ME1 1TS
Saturday 14th May, 11.00 am to 3.00 pm. Entry £2.00
Plant sale, teas with homemade cakes, Christian Aid stand.
Come and relax in this lovely garden, children and dogs welcome.Enquiries to Bridget Langstaff 07816 828439

Letter from Kondoa

For those who don’t know, Kondoa is a diocese in Tanzania, with whom we have formed a friendship. Bishop Given the Bishop of Kondoa visited us last year.
We regularly get news from Kondoa via Sue Chalkley who liaises with them.
She has just sent us this, forwarding a report from from Kondoa.

” We have received a report and photos from Kondoa (photos attached) about the distribution of food to the villages and also some information about ‘the essence of cultivation season” (attached for your information).

The following criteria were used in the distribution of food:

  • The critically drought affected families with no food stock at the time of distribution, 85% of their fields had been totally wilted by the past drought.
  • Households with no livestock mostly headed by single and aged women
  • Vulnerable households and group of people eating less than one meal per day.

I have been asked to pass on many greetings from the people of Kondoa and Bishop:

Thank you so much for this very great food assistance, God bless you so much “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the World. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me food………….” Matthew 25:34-35

To date, £18,400 has been sent to Kondoa. In total £21,264 was donated, so there is still some money to transfer and also the gift aid where this is applicable. The Bishop intends to use this for a project that will help people save food and money in years of good harvest. I will pass on further information about this as and when we know more.
In the meantime, and separately, there is a consultant paediatrician who has been working in an Arusha hospital for the past few years. Her sister happens to live in Paddock Wood, so when she has leave and visits her sister, she comes to St Andrew’s and over time we have become friends. When she was here last year I told her about the drought but she was not seeing any particular signs of it in the hospital – last year about 2 children out of every 20 were malnourished.
She is here again now and, when she saw a six month old baby in church on Easter Sunday, she commented that our baby weighed about the same as a two or three year old child that she would see in hospital. Now, more than 10 of every 20 children presenting are malnourished – clearly the effects of hunger take time to work through. She says parents bring their children to hospital with, say, pneumonia and then when the staff peel off the many layers of clothes, they see the condition of the child underneath.
She showed me some photos which I found quite distressing. Despite this, I attach two of them for your information – but please only open the attachment if you are prepared to see very thin children. I have decided to attach the photos because they underline that the situation was very severe and possibly more severe than most of us had understood. God knew though and the wonderfully generous response no doubt saved lives as well as showing the love of Jesus to many people.
with my love and thanks


PS Please do keep an eye on the Kondoa Diocese website which is kept up to date with the latest news:”