One of the delights of living in such a community minded place like Wanstead is the annual Wanstead Fringe. This year our churches, Vestry, halls and gardens hosted a wide range of events and we enjoyed the chance to welcome new visitors to our spaces. 

Our Fringe events kicked off with Jazz Vespers, and it was a joy to see so many people attend. For the first time, it was featured as part of the  Fringe and well over one hundred people came to listen to the melodic sounds of the Nick Tomalin Quartet and soprano Inge-Lise Nygaard-Parsons. Our next Jazz Vespers will be on 20th October, so do make a note in your diary!

Over at St Mary’s, Walkin’ With the King was a rousing Dixieland hot gospel evening and a big hit. John Petters and his New Orleans All Star band raised the (recently renovated) roof, and The Cuckfield ran a pop-up bar. Luckily the folks at Wanstead Fringe were on hand to record this brief video so those not able to attend can see what they missed!

We were delighted to welcome pianist Marzia Hudajarova and mezzo-soprano Ulrike Wutscher back to Christ Church, where they treated spectators to a song recital of Life & Love, performing some beautiful music from composers such as Schumann and Strauss. Listen to a clip here.

The Art Trail Wanstead celebrated their 10th anniversary year and Christ Church remained open every day so that several artists could display their work. Over the final weekend of the Fringe, which coincided with the Wanstead Festival on the Sunday, Christ Church held a Flowers & Music festival and resonated to the sound of tinkling ivories (and the less tinkling tones of the organ as played by Dr John Carnelley) and the soaring voice of one of our favourite sopranos Inge-Lise. Youth Voices Wanstead junior choir also performed for visitors.

We had some simply stunning floral arrangements put together by our talented team of arrangers; this year generously sponsored by Biyoni Hair, Belgique, Sun Goddess Tanning, Nightingale on the Green and Treehouse Nursery. Beryl, Lorraine, Ann, Maggie, Caroline and the Hepworth family rose to the occasion, creating a series of inventively themed arrangements. Outside in the grounds, a traditional garden fete was appreciated by parishioners and local residents who also enjoyed the much needed shade!

As well as hosting our own events, our churches yet again proved to be great venues for other Fringe and Art Trail events. Christ Church parish halls hosted Britain’s Got Talent’s Bam Bam who entertained the children splendidly, and Brenda Coyle’s art/meditation sessions took place in our Vestry. The highlight of the Fringe (at least for me), however, was the Kinema. Christ Church gardens looked simply magical at night, lit up with fairy lights as the Stow Film Lounge showed ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’. Everyone had a wonderful time, especially the children.

It’s been a great couple of weeks and a huge vote of thanks is due to everyone involved at the Fringe and within our parish who helped organise these events; here’s looking to 2020!

PS – the show’s not over yet. This weekend both churches are open once again for Open House London. There will be art and flowers at Christ Church, a period Georgian music concert at St Mary’s, and lots more besides. Check our calendar for more details.