Helmdon Parish Council

Serving the people of Helmdon

Clerk: Mrs Helen du Bois
2A Station Road, Helmdon
Northamptonshire NN13 5QT

Tove Valley Baptists - News Archive 2006-2017

Gourmet Soup Kitchen Ceases To Run - posted 08 May 2017

We have been advised that the Gourmet Soup Kitchen has ceased providing soup every month.

The Gourmet Soup Kitchen Continues Its Success - posted 02 July 2015

Weston Chapel Gourmet Soup Kitchen is held the lst Tuesday of every month, next one July 7th - comes highly recommended, places are limited for further details or to book your place contact Rosemary Gulliver. For general enquiries about activities at Weston Chapel contact Rosemary or Val.

"Gourmet Soup Kitchen" On First Tuesday Of Each Month - posted 16 February 2014

"Gourmet Soup Kitchen" is held on the first Tuesday of each month at Weston, 4th March, and 1st April, at 12.30pm. Two different types of soup are served, followed by dessert, chocolates and coffee/tea all for a modest cost of £5.

It has been good to see a contingent from Helmdon in recent months; a warm welcome awaits anyone else who would like to come. To reserve a place please contact Irene or Rosemary.

Tiny Tots Are Opening Over The Summer Holiday - posted 26 July 2013

... and welcome all little ones from 10am to 12 noon on Wednesday mornings.

News From The Baptist Fellowship - posted 07 April 2013

Tiny Tots continues to meet each Wednesday at Weston Chapel during term time, from 10am - 12 noon. We offer a range of craft activities for the older pre-school child and plenty of toys to play with. Our sessions include refreshments, singing and story time. We are a warm and friendly group and love to meet new people.

Weston Chapel continues to host the community activities it always has done, WEA, Wine Club, Art Club, Carers Lunch (3rd Thursday of each month), Tiny Tots and recently the premises were used for a Coffee Morning for the Stroke Association.

The premises are also available, on request, for birthday and other celebrations.

Our Gourmet Soup Kitchen held the first Tuesday of each month is very popular. The next one is May 7th when the menu consists of two types of soup, a pudding, coffee/tea and a chocolate to finish up with. After lunch for those who wish to stay, we have Tuesday Reflections led by Rev. Paul Knight, an opportunity to hear more about one of the many bible characters and sing some favourite hymns. If you wish to come along to one of these please let Rosemary know.

Services are held each Sunday at 10.30am. Any further information please contact Rosemary Gulliver or Irene Inness

Women's World Day Of Prayer - posted 10 February 2013

click for poster (on Helmdon.com)

Business As Usual At The Baptist Fellowship - posted 16 November 2012

Phil Drage leaves Tove Valley Baptist Fellowship (Weston) for pastures new in early December, taking up a new pastorate at Earl Shilton Baptist Church, Leicestershire.

Weston Community Project is still doing what it has always done, it is still the community arm of the Baptist Church and is available for you in the villages around to us. Yes, changes have been made to its constitution, but it's still very much business as usual.

Services take place each Sunday at 10.30am. Weekly activities include Art Club, 7pm on Tuesday, Tiny Tots 10am on Wednesday. WEA lectures and Wine Club are still well attended.

In November we are launching The Weston "Soup Kitchen" - think Covent Garden not Heinz. The lunch consists of two different kinds of soup, a dessert and coffee at a cost of £5. The next date is December 4th and if you would like to come and join us please let us know by the Thursday of the week before - in this case 29th November.

Regarding Helmdon Chapel we are sorry that we don't have any definite news to share regarding the derelict chapel building. Plans to sell the site are proceeding but moving at an incredibly slow pace.

Baptist Chapel Site Planning Permission Granted - posted 22 August 2011

Permission having been given for the clearance of the site and the construction of two "starter homes", the site is currently being offered for sale by Lords of Towcester.

Up-date On The Old Baptist Chapel And Schoolroom - posted 1 March 2011

An architect has been commissioned to draw up detailed plans to develop the site, as required by the the planning authorities. We wait to hear whether this is any more successful than all the others.
Glyn Jones

What Is Happening About Helmdon Chapel? - posted 13 February 2009

... you may be asking. Not much, I am sorry to say. We all regret it is such an eyesore but let me explain why I think there will be no action in the foreseeable future.

In recent years three planning applications were made to redevelop the site with affordable housing; each was refused, with completely different reasons being given each time. After the third application we were told that any further application would have to be as a full planning proposal. It was clear from what we and our professional architect observed when a group of us attended the last application that it would be difficult for us to satisfy that Planning Committee - a new reason for refusal might be produced. Since each outline application costs money to prepare and submit, and a full planning application would cost much more, we hesitated before making a further application and last year we recognised that in the deteriorating conditions of the housing market we now had little hope of realising what we believed to be the value of the site. As a registered charity we are required to do our best to secure the value of our property, which we cannot do in the current depression/recession (dare one use the D-word?).

With hindsight, it is unfortunate, both from the point of view of most villagers and of the church as owner of the derelict chapel and site, that objections against the earlier development proposals prevented the timely development of the site that was intended. I think that there will now be a pause until favourable conditions for development return and we are more confident that another planning application will have a reasonable chance of success. Of course, those who are responsible for the chapel may not have this view -- this is my personal opinion, being someone without authority -- but I feel sure that I express the general feeling of the folk who remember the good times past at Helmdon chapel when I say that we regret we have not been permitted to arrive at a neat ending for it.
Glyn Jones

The Community Project at Weston continues to expand its Activities - posted 5th February 2009

The Community Project continues to expand its activities. Everything it does is open to people from Helmdon and all the surrounding villages. In addition to the Coffee Stop, Lunch Club, Hobby Club, Tiny Tots, WEA, Art Club and Wine Club there are the recently started lunch for Alzheimers' sufferers and carers and help for those experiencing depression, plus the following new activities: Keep Fit Classes On Mondays at 1.30 pm there are 'Keep Fit' Classes at the Weston Community Project. They last for one hour and guarantee to find again the muscles you thought you had lost! For more information contact Audrey Keeves.

Walk your way to Health. If you know that a little gentle exercise is good for the health but are not a serious ramblers you will be interested in the weekly Leisure Walks. These take place each Tuesday morning, going at a gentle pace and starting at 9.30 from the old chapel, whatever the weather. Each lasts for an hour to an hour and quarter. There is no charge. Hot drinks and cakes are available afterwards in the rooms of the Community. For more details call Mike Crozier, the walk leader, on xxx. Computer courses Practical instruction in computing continues to be available from time to time at the Community Project. The classes are small (up to 4 trainees) and 'hands-on'. The two courses currently on offer are Computing for Beginners (for those with no experience) and Basic Computing (for those who want to know some useful 'tricks of the trade'). If you may be interested in one of these inexpensive courses or wish to discuss your needs, contact Glyn Jones.

Interested in Art? Do the names Henry Moore, Eric Gill, John Piper, Dora Carrington, Clare Leighton, Stanley Spencer, Paul and John Nash mean anything to you? 'Some Artists of Southern England' is the title of Bill Prestcott's WEA Course that will run at the Project for six weeks from April 22nd onwards and they are the painters, sculptors and engravers from the first half of last Century whose work will be featured. Wednesday afternoons 2-4pm £33 for the entire course (coffee or tea included, of course).

Local Baptists celebrate the first year of the Weston Community Project - 30th August 2007

The Weston Community Project has competed its first year of operation in the newly refurbished premises at the old chapel at Weston. In that time it has initiated regular meetings of: a lunch club, a hobby gather, a daytime WEA branch, an art club and a wine club. It has also become the home for the established 'Mums and Tots', and a temporary location for the ceramic Art Group. In addition to the Parish Council and the local drama group practising there, the Community Project has been used for a variety of private activities ranging from an evening of choral and orchestral works to a showing of Al Gore's film 'An Inconvenient Truth', and for parties of all kinds.

The grade II listed building was reopened almost one year ago by Sir John Greenaway, a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the county, in the presence of a multitude of civic dignitaries. At that time many must have wondered whether a community centre at Weston could ever succeed. The progress made in such a short time has astonished everyone, not least those who took the risk and invested in it (including the church and the NCC). Of course, the Baptists still use the building for services on Sundays and alternate Tuesdays, and for prayer on Sundays and Mondays -- its Cells continue to meet in private houses in Helmdon and Moreton Pinkney. And like the Community Project the church is also growing.

The Community Project is an independent charity. It will hold its first General Meeting on the afternoon of Thursday 27 September, 2007, when its progress will be reported. This is open to anyone who wishes to attend. But I imagine that most people will be content to visit the Community Project's website which gives information about its activities; you may visit it on www.westoncp.org.uk
Glyn Gill Jones

Whatever happened to the Helmdon Baptists? - February 2006

They are still around - after the Chapel at Helmdon was closed they went to the old chapel at Weston. But at the moment they can't meet there either, because of building work to the chapel, so they meet in each others' homes during the week and in the Village Hall at Lois Weedon on Sundays. In March they'll move to Moreton Pinkney, to meet in the Village Hall there on Sundays for a few months, before they finally return to Weston.

All this moving around does not feel as strange to them as it might seem to you. There are three reasons for this. Firstly: because they are now a Cell Church, their activities in Cells which meet in houses in villages around, are now as important to them as events at chapel building. Secondly: Helmdon Chapel (and now Weston) drew people from eleven villages, most of whom lived neither in Helmdon or Weston so they are accustomed to travelling anyway (as people did two hundred years ago when Weston was the only Nonconformist Chapel for miles around). Thirdly: they have rediscovered an old Baptist truth - the church is the people, not the building, and they are comfortable anywhere, providing they are together!

So, why are they doing all that building work to Weston Chapel? Like Helmdon it too needs repair but unlike Helmdon its foundations are on bedrock, making it a more soundly-constructed building. The Baptists felt they could not justify spending money on its repair for their use alone. So they decided not just to repair the Grade II Listed building, but to thoroughly improve it and make the whole building available to everyone as an amenity, one that does not make a profit. [You can capture something of that vision in a short DVD video, made a few months ago before the work began. It plays for less than 5 minutes on computers and TVs that can be obtained free of charge from any Baptist church member you may know, or from Phil Drage, 01295 768690].

To achieve this end, the existing building at Weston has been completely gutted and now is being refurbished to modern standards. An extension is being added which will have a semi-industrial kitchen, toilets upstairs and down, baby-changing facilities, an office and a storage room. It will be centrally heated and be a comfortable environment for the elderly and disabled as well as suitable for the young and vigorous. When it is finished, at a cost of over £300,000, it will reopen as the "Weston Community Project", a social amenity for people of all the villages around - including Helmdon, of course - for six days of the week. On Sundays, though, it will once again be the place where you will find the Helmdon Baptists.
Though the Baptist Chapel at Helmdon is closed, Baptists still meet regularly in the village! If you go to Irene Innes' house in Cross Lane (the one with the Ceramic Art Studio) at 9.15 on a Monday morning, you will find the Helmdon Cell. It has an informal meeting over coffee and everyone is welcome to come and sample the Cell Church way of doing things. From time to time the Cell arrange social activities to which all are welcome and without any religiosity - a demonstration of planting hanging baskets, a historical walk round Helmdon (led by your own Webmaster - fascinating), a talk on Bletchley Park by someone who worked there in WWII, a wassailing party (definitely unusual carol singing)… Watch this website for details of the next one!


What's happening to the Chapel at Helmdon? - February 2006


At the moment nothing is happening to the Chapel at Helmdon. This is unfortunate for the village and for the Chapel's owners, who are unsure what to do next. Here is a bit of the history of what caused the Baptists to leave the Chapel and what happened when they applied for permission to redevelop the Chapel site.

The Chapel became unusable nearly three years ago when a large vertical fissure suddenly appeared in the north wall. This occurred soon after the building had been full of people for a service - a rare event. Alarmed, the congregation contacted the Baptist Union, the building's trustee. The Baptist Union advised them to make an immediate structural survey and recommended a surveyor. The survey revealed that Helmdon Chapel had become dangerous to use and that, because the building lacked foundations, to make it safe would need basic repairs costing upward of £130,000. Realising that, even after paying this large amount, the building would still require other essential repairs to be done (especially to the roof and windows) and also needed extensive modernisation, the congregation closed the building and moved to the old Chapel at Weston, which they also owned.

Knowing that they would not repair the Helmdon Chapel the Baptists applied for Outline Planning Permission to build two houses on the site following the demolition of the Chapel and Schoolroom. This was refused. Twice more they have submitted revised outline plans and each has been rejected. The South Northants Council's Planning Committee now require a Full Planning Application, not an Outline, before they will consider it again.

The reasons given for the three rejections vary. Some would make Helmdonians smile. For example: the notion that the Chapel and its schoolroom is a fine building, in keeping with character of the village (the schoolroom is block-work, rendered and scored to look like stonework; as a whole one can be confident it would not get any architectural awards…). Similarly, the assertion that the existing building is a much-needed social amenity (despite the fact that scarcely anyone did use it, and Helmdon has three good quality amenities already in the Reading Rooms, the Primary School and the Parish Church) would astonish anyone well-informed in the village.

Other reasons for rejection, ones that an architect could take into account, were dealt with in succeeding applications, but with each application new reasons for rejection were produced for the Planning Committee. The most serious of these was the Case Officer of the Planning Department's assertion that there is nothing seriously wrong with the building and it can easily be repaired. This was made despite no one from the Planning Department asking to see inside the locked building, or to inspect its defective wall (which cannot be seen from the road). The assertion conflicts with the Surveyor's Report and ignores the fact that the necessary remedial underpinning of the entire chapel would be very expensive. A further Planning Office objection was that the plot is more suited to one large house rather than two smaller ones This runs counter to the usual tenet that villages need affordable housing and, as the two houses proposed would still occupy less space than the existing Chapel and Schoolroom, it cannot be over-development of the site, as the Planning Department claimed.

An objection that has featured increasingly in the rejections concerned part of the chapel wall at the rear that supports one end of the corrugated-iron roof of an outbuilding of an adjacent property. This happens to be on the perimeter of the plot of a listed building, so demolishing the Chapel wall will be "detrimental to a Listed Building". (Reader, take note! Anything "Listed" is inviolable, even an open-fronted lean-to with a very rusty roof - the Northampton lighthouse may just be "the exception that proves the rule".)

From the above you can see that the owners and trustees of Helmdon Chapel have a difficult choice before them. They can make an expensive Detailed Proposal, but with the sinking feeling that "the powers that be" will again reject it, producing fresh reasons for doing so, if necessary. Or they can "go to appeal", which is also an expensive process.

The Chapel's owners think they have been hard done by, a feeling that was reinforced for them at the last meeting of the Planning Committee when their third application was hurriedly voted-out after the Chapel's architect succinctly presented a detailed rebuttal of each of the Planning Office's reasons for recommending rejection. No response was made to any of the facts he presented or to the questions he asked. Instead the Chairman, who seemed surprised by the course of events, quickly put it to a vote and it was again rejected. Given the entrenched antipathy of the Planning Department's Case Officer and the Planning Committee, even if the Chapel's owners were to be successful on appeal, there is no certainty that the Council's Planners would not raise further objections when Detailed Planning Approval was sought.

So, for the owners of the Helmdon Chapel, this is a pause, a time for reflection. We are open to ideas and suggestions. Meanwhile, we apologise to the residents of village for the state of the disused Chapel; we are aware that it is deteriorating, but it is not worth us spending anything on its maintenance when it has no future.
Glyn Jones - Weston Baptists