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Volume XXVII, No. 21

Saturday, July 10, 1999             50p.

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Cuppa with Shirley
Ann's Letters
Simon's E-mail
Dining Room
House and Grounds
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Letters to the Editor
Fundraiser To Raise Spirits
In a surprising announcement, Reverend L.N. Banks confirmed yesterday that a local brewery, Friary Ales, will be sponsoring a selection of new beers to help with the extensive restoration project for the village church. The brew will be available at the 'Village Idiot' and a proportion of all revenue from the sales will go towards the restoration fund.

"It's not as surprising as you may think," said the Reverend. "There is quite a tradition of beer and the church, going back to the monasteries. Quite frankly, we really need the money."

The beer has not yet been named. Readers are invited to write in with suggestions (e-mail the Puckering Gazette at "We are looking for something with an ecclesiastical bent, something that is in keeping with the other main beer of the brewery, the 'Flaming Monk'," noted Reverend Banks. "We think this imaginative campaign will do really well for us."

Though he may be found in the Idiot, the vicar is proving he's no fool when it comes to fund raising. Parishioners stopping in for a pint after work may be sure they will find the vicar helping the sales along. -- Nigel Twicks

Trial To Go Forward
Police say that Gerald Anderson has been co-operating fully with their investigation of burglary and theft charges against him (see Gazette Volume XXVII, No. 15). The case will be coming to trial in the next few months. Meanwhile Sgt. Archer is left with the task of figuring out where all the contraband came from.

"We do know that a lot of it is associated with Stoney Grove," he said. "We've had some inquiries from a Miss Knytleigh asking for some objects and papers that she feels relate to the history of the house. Unfortunately the wheels of justice turn slowly and we must do things properly.  A crime has been committed and justice must be done." Miss Knytleigh has not been available for comment on the exact nature of the missing items. --Nigel Twicks


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Puckering Profiles:  Frank Churchill - A Hermit's Life
If you've lately felt beset by crowds and long for a simpler, quieter life, perhaps this week's profile will hold some appeal. Frank Churchill, a professional hermit for more than a decade, has begun to come out of his self- imposed solitude and recently agreed to talk to the Gazette about his unusual job. Frank accepted the position at Stoney Grove before the present owners arrived, but a codicil in the will assured him of a lifetime's seclusion. With the slow cadence of a man who has had little to say for quite a long time, he explained his role.

"It's a job with some strong historical precedents," he noted. "Many houses in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century had extensive parkland that included a number of buildings evoking Classical times. It was not unusual to include a hermitage among the temples and monuments that dotted the countryside. A few landowners took it a step further and employed a man to live alone and in basic conditions as a recluse. When visitors came they would show him off along with other aspects of the landscape."

Frank has lasted far longer than most of his historical predecessors. "Most of them got fed up after a few weeks and slipped off to the pub and got drunk, but I kind of like it. I don't really fancy being around people, and this way I don't have to meet many of them."

More recently Frank has been seen outside of the Hermitage and in the company of a young lady, a subject he refused to discuss. He did say, however, that he was thinking of branching out into prophecy and fortune telling. "I spend a lot of time in my house and sometimes I see things," he mused. "I knew England were not going far in the World Cup."

Prior to his present job, Frank taught English in a comprehensive school in London. The strain reputedly brought on a mild breakdown that led to his coming down to the country. "Montgomery Hall was a lovely man. He helped me a lot and gave me a place to cogitate," reminisced Frank. A man of few words, he had nothing to say on the present owners. --Nigel Twicks

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