Rose of Brill
Donald Norwood remembers a local saint
Everybody in Brill seemed to love Rose and when she died they all turned up, or so it seemed. The church was packed. Everyone in the village had fond memories and even the photo of her smiling face reflected her love for each one of us. She made us feel we mattered. We mattered to Rose and our little chapel mattered to her.
Readers may never have been to Brill or heard of Rose but her story is worth telling because it is too easy anywhere to close a chapel because it looks empty and underestimate the folk it has nurtured in good times and bad, folk like Rose. Why did a girl who left school early, married young, had to polish shoes for the gentry in the manor house or deliver bread for the Co-op, or help the cook in the village school make such an impact on all who met her? The short answer is: it was the little chapel in the main street which boosted her confidence in God. There she gave and received all the love the good Lord has to share, and she shared it.
In Brill, a village on the border between Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, it is still possible to think of church and chapel. Formerly they were rivals rejecting each other. Behind the church/chapel division there was a social divide. Brill is famous for its windmill; it also had a bakery. And it was the chapel folk who ground the corn and baked the bread for the gentry to eat in their homes and at communion…
Donald Norwood is a URC minister working in ecumenical research in Oxford
This is an extract from an article published in the June 2023 edition of Reform