Cry God for St George!

An iconic church at the heart of Stevenage New Town celebrated its golden anniversary on Sunday.

The striking modernist church of St Andrew and St George reached its fifth decade on Advent Sunday with a special celebratory mass led by Rev Canon Melvyn Barnsley, Rector of the church.

Exactly 50 years before, the Queen Mother, who had laid the foundation stone of the building four years earlier, joined religious leaders to take part in its consecration as the town’s parish church.

Almost 1,000 people crammed into the church on that day, with around that figure again outside, despite the cold and rain.

As the Queen mum arrived in a light blue dress and midnight blue coat and hat, a fanfare of trumpets signalled the congregation to stand, before the service began with sung mass and the Rector’s words, “It is finished.”

After the service her majesty spoke with architects, builders and church leaders. She said the building had a “great feeling of space”. She also had a go on the church bells, played electronically via a keyboard.

As the Queen mum emerged to the sound of bells and drove along St George’s Way, the crowd, five deep along the road, surged forward to catch a glimpse of her as she smiled and waved.

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Fifty years on, the church celebrated the years of worship, charity work, births and marriages, including that of Mary Thrasher, who married Terrence in the church in 1960, the first couple to wed there. She was one of over 100 people at the church on Sunday.

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