PICTURES: Shoreham Gospels – a community creation

The Shoreham Gospels, a community creation that has taken six months to produce, will be dedicated at a united church service.

The project to copy out the gospels by hand was initiated by Father James Grant, chairman of Shoreham Churches Together, to celebrate the Year of the Bible.

Father James Grant, chairman of Shoreham Churches Together, with The Shoreham Gospels, the Rev Martin Lloyd-Williams, Archdeacon of Bishop and Lewes, and project co-ordinator Jeannette Simpson. Picture: Peter Cripps 21-10-17 (04)

Father James Grant, chairman of Shoreham Churches Together, with The Shoreham Gospels, the Rev Martin Lloyd-Williams, Archdeacon of Bishop and Lewes, and project co-ordinator Jeannette Simpson. Picture: Peter Cripps 21-10-17 (04)

More than 128 people of all ages took part, producing 728 handwritten pages with decoration and illustrations.

The finished bound book will be dedicated by the Right Reverend Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes, at St Mary de Haura Church, in East Street, on Sunday at 4pm.

John and Jeannette Simpson from St Nicolas’ Church co-ordinated the project, and had the book on show at a coffee morning there on Saturday.

Jeannette said: “The copying was done in many different ways, singly, in groups, or as families, with parents and children working together.

“Some people copied one or two verses, some whole pages and others took on complete chapters.”

The work is Shoreham’s answer to the great Lindisfarne Gospels, an illuminated manuscript produced by monks in about 700, and the enthusiasm for the project shines through the pages.

Father James said: “I hoped people from all over Shoreham would join in copying a few verses of the Gospels each, and the response surpassed all my expectations.

“The thanks of Shoreham Churches Together are due to the many co-ordinators in churches, schools and rest homes, who organised the copying in their particular groups, as well as those who wrote out the text.”

The writing reflects the community, varying from the hesitant lettering of small children and seniors with arthritic hands to skilled calligraphy.

Jill Austin, from the parish of Kingston Buci, said: “I copied several pages and really enjoyed it. It was a very good way of getting to know the Bible better.”

Helen Swyer, who contributed several illustrations as well as copying text, said: “I was born and bred in Shoreham, and my family has been in the town for nearly 140 years.

“I enjoyed being part of a Shoreham-wide project, creating a work which will be valued by future generations in the town.”

Many of the pages are illustrated, with illuminated capitals echoing the work of medieval monks and modern drawings.

At the end, there is a list of all the organisations and individuals who took part in the copying or helped in some other way.

Mr Simpson said: “Quite by chance, we came across the Wyvern Bindery in London, a wonderful, Dickensian-looking shop, where they maintain all the skills of traditional bookbinding.

“Their expertise turned a pile of 728 loose sheets into a beautifully-bound volume with gilded titles and page edges, and a custom-made slipcase.

“Their work splendidly complements all the hard work put in by the many contributors. The result is something we can all be proud of, and we hope it will become part of Shoreham’s heritage.”

The intention is for the book to be treasured but not left gathering dust as a museum piece. It will circulate between organisations for set periods.