The North Samford Benefice

For parish queries please contact:
Rev Annette Shannon
The Rectory, Glebe Close, Sproughton IP8 3BQ / 01473 807674
Benefice Administrator Hayley Purnell / 07904 972116

Sproughton with Burstall, Copdock with Washbrook and Belstead & Bentley with Tattingstone

Dear Friends,
In 2020, an ecology student named Alice completed a comprehensive bat survey at St Mary’s Church, Tattingstone with some help from me. A high frequency audio detector was placed in the aisle for two consecutive nights in August (when the bats are most active) and samples of droppings from different areas around the church were collected and sent for DNA analysis.

Alice was quite excited as there were a lot of droppings in different parts of the church (despite regular cleaning) and this already indicated significant bat presence, something also well known to us! How do we know these are bat droppings and not from mice as they look quite similar? If you rub the dried droppings between finger and thumb, there is a characteristic shininess which is due to the indigestible parts of the insects they consume.

We were quite stunned by the results of the DNA analysis as they confirmed four different bat species: Common Pipistrelle, Brown Long Eared, Natterer’s and Serotine. Sound files revealed additional evidence of Barbastelle, Soprano Pipistrelle and another Myotis species so we have six or seven types of bats living in the church and very many individuals (700 Pipistrelle calls were recorded in one session).

As churchwarden, I visit the church every week to check on it and help clean it and tidy up. 2020 has been a very quiet year as we have been unable to open for most of the year, and then only in limited ways. We have all been particularly affected by the inability to sing in church, so it has been quiet even when there are people in it.

While this might aid us in silent prayer or reflection, it seems to me there has been little singing praise to God, in any sense. However, I have derived much comfort in the image of an army of bats flying at night and singing praise all around the church, unaffected by the silence of the human world.

Their song is, of course, inaudible to human ears but this doesn’t invalidate it to God who sees and hears all.

Bats are not especially popular creatures, generally considered unclean and certainly not to be eaten as the people are warned in Leviticus! The last line of the psalms (150) says, “Let everything that hath breath: praise the Lord” and that surely includes our flying mammalian relatives! In Matthew 10 Jesus says: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care”. God knows and cares for all creatures.

We cannot separate ourselves from nature and we are all part of God’s order in Creation. For some, bats are unpleasant and messy creatures but for all who love our natural world, that was not created for us alone, they are a wonderful illustration of God’s work.

Whenever I walk through our village at dusk, I now think of the hundreds of little voices singing praise as they fly almost invisibly over us, in and out of our church which has also been their home for centuries.

Simon Harley, Churchwarden at St Mary’s, Tattingstone Churches are open for limited periods subject to hygiene regulations. Please follow the guidelines and social distancing measures. Churchwardens can be contacted for up-to-date information.

Tattingstone Church: Open every Sunday and Wednesday between 10am
and 4pm. Contact Simon Harley: 327531.

Burstall Church: Open on Sundays from 10am-3pm and Wednesdays from
3-6pm. Contact Gillian Gasper (652396) or Gwen Runnacles (652494).

Bentley Church: Now open for services. Contact Peter Day: 01473 310518

Sproughton and Copdock: Open alternate weeks with a 10am Holy Communion Service. For Sproughton contact Philip Jones (252624) and for Copdock contact Adrian Basham (405579) or Ruth Lincoln (730430).

A recorded service from the rectory will be made available on YouTube every Sunday afternoon.

The 6pm services and reflections continue on Zoom.


Robert Tucker:
Copdock Church Service followed by a cremation at 7 Hills Crematorium.
Cremation: Charles Doolan from Bentley at Ipswich Crematorium.
Burial of Ashes: Alan Munnings into Sproughton Churchyard.

Please note the following service pattern is liable to last minute change depending on the risks to the congregation and service leaders being assessed as minimal. Please check with the churchwardens or look on the North Samford Benefice website in the week before to confirm and to book a seat. When face-to-face services are cancelled, the 3pm YouTube service will be changed to a 10am Facebook Live Holy Communion Service from the rectory and Zoom services will continue.

  • Sunday 7 February – 10am Sproughton Holy Communion / 3pm YouTube Non-Eucharistic / 6pm Zoom Evening Prayer
  • Sunday 14 February – 8am Sproughton Holy Communion / 9.30am Burstall Family Service / 10am Copdock Holy Communion / 10am Bentley Non-Eucharistic / 3pm YouTube Non-Eucharistic / 6pm Zoom Evening Prayer
  • Sunday 21 February – 10am Sproughton Non-Eucharistic / 10am Tattingstone Holy Communion / 3pm YouTube Non-Eucharistic / 7pm Zoom Evening Prayer
  • Sunday 28 February – 10am Copdock Holy Communion / 10am Bentley Holy Communion / 3pm YouTube Non-Eucharistic / 6pm Zoom Evening Prayer

Celtic Evening Prayer Service: Wednesday at 8pm on Facebook-Raul Arkaia.

Please submit church letters and copy for the March edition of InTouch to
Hayley Purnell by February 4:

Sproughton with Burstall, Copdock with Washbrook and Belstead & Bentley with Tattingstone

Guidance the churches will be adhering to for services

  1. To comply with the 2m distancing rule for public worship, Sproughton will only be able to host 20-30 people and Copdock 20-25. People from the same household or ‘bubble’ can sit together.
  2. People will be asked to sanitise their hands on entry and exit.
  3. Face masks are optional for the congregation but when preparing the Eucharist, clergy will be wearing a mask.
  4. Those at extra risk and clinically extremely vulnerable are still at risk when attending public worship.
  5. A note will need to be made of all those who attend to comply with government guidance for ‘Track and Trace’.
  6. There will be no singing.
  7. Communion will be bread only for communicants.
  8. Churches will be left for 72 hours before reopening. In the event of a funeral taking place, additional cleaning may be necessary.
  9. Service sheets will be printed and left in pews for people to take away and reuse.
  10. People will be invited to leave their collection in a receptacle as they enter or leave. Those counting the money are to wear gloves.

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