Christmas is always an exciting time at St Mary’s Church, Portchester, and this year was brilliant.
The church was floodlit and could be seen from Portsdown Hill, providing some fantastic photographs which were posted on Facebook.
The inside was floodlit too, with the pillars of the ancient 12th century church being seen in a new way, and the purple lighting adding to the magic and mystery of the season.
We had more than 3,000 people through the doors for school and church carol services in one week!
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Our main carol service is growing in popularity and had to be held over two nights and was packed each time.
But for me, one of the highlights was the Christmas Day lunch in the parish hall.
Not everyone enjoys Christmas, and the emphasis on family, togetherness, love and laughter can often exacerbate the loneliness and loss felt by others.
Of course, some people like to be on their own at Christmas, but others do not.
In 2015 St Mary’s Church had organised a Christmas Day lunch for those who were on their own, including couples on their own – we had 30 people present.
This year, we prepared lunch for 70!
A lovely three-course meal with wine was cooked by Ron Prior and his team.
Ron is a member of St Mary’s and the chef at Cackleberry’s at Fareham.
Councillor Geoff Fazackarley, the deputy mayor of Fareham came along dressed as Santa, which was fantastic for the guests.
There were plenty of volunteers from the church, as well as some non-church people who just wanted to do something for others on Christmas Day.
We are grateful to the many local supermarkets, including Tesco and Morrisons, which provided food and vouchers.
Wine was donated anonymously and other businesses and friends donated as well.
This was a fantastic way for the community of Portchester to come together, and we will do our best to make this an annual event.
St Mary’s Church is in the grounds of Portchester Castle. Sunday services are at 8am, 10am and 6pm.
The parish office can be contacted on (023) 9232 1380 or go to stmary-portchester.org.uk.
Rev Ian is vicar of St Mary’s Church, Portchester