Festival lights up Langton Matravers church with Christmas trees

The Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival at St George’s Church in Langton Matravers near Swanage, is back with a twinkle after a year’s absence.

The event, organised by Colin and Sandy Garner, raises money for good causes and was started in 2016 and but did not go ahead last year because of Covid.

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Preparations for this year began in August when local groups and businesses were invited to submit applications.

A child from St George's Pre-school at Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

Putting the finishing touches to the St George’s Pre-school tree at the Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

Musical entertainment

Participants came in just before the event to decorate their trees. It runs from Saturday 4th December through to Monday 6th December 2021.  

There is musical entertainment too with Christmas music playing in-between performances to give the whole thing a festive atmosphere.

outside St George's Church with poster for Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

St George’s has been running the festival since 2016, except for last year

“Great response”

Colin Garner said:

“When we started off in 2016 it was very difficult to get people to come along and take part. It’s taken us a few years to get it going.

“But we’ve had a great response this year after the break last year.”

Jan Marsh and Jasmine Cattle put the finishing touches to the Langton Matravers Museum tree

Jan Marsh and Jasmine Cattle decorating the Langton Matravers Museum tree

“Beautiful festival”

There are around 30 trees in all, which is the most they have ever had. Colin has been busy making a replica of Langton High Street to display in the church alongside the trees.

Linda Welsh, who runs Heroes Haven, a holiday lodge in Swanage for disabled ex-service veterans and their families, said:

“We are so pleased to be supporting this beautiful festival again this year and looking forward to decorating our tree.”

Colin Garner
Colin Garner

Colin Garner has made a miniature Langton Matravers for this year’s festival

“Lovely time”

Dinah Johnson, from The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society, said:

“I had such a lovely time taking part in it last time and enjoying the tea and cake on offer too.”

Organisations decorating trees include the Guides and Brownies, Steps for Stan, Swanage Badminton Club, Langton Allotments, Swanage Coastwatch, Mayday Singers and Langton Village Hall.

There’s also trees by local companies including Purbeck Ice Cream, James Smith funeral directors, Suttle Stone Quarry, Tom’s Field Campsite, Cumulus Outdoors, English Stamp Company, Burngate Stone Carving Centre, Love Cake and A R Harris & Son.

Farah Batchelor, charity manager for Amelia's Rainbow at Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

Farah Batchelor, charity manager for Amelia’s Rainbow with their rainbow tree

Chosen charities

There is no admission charge. Tea, coffee and cake are served which helps raise money for charity.

Usually, they manage to raise in excess of a thousand pounds which is divided between the chosen charities. This year will be the turn of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and Amelia’s Rainbow.

The organisers Colin and Sandy Garner always like to choose a children’s charity and Dorset-based Amelia’s Rainbow helps children who have terminal or serious illnesses.

Colin and Sandy Garner
Colin Garner

Organisers, Colin and Sandy Garner

Swanage Croquet Club tree at Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

Swanage Croquet Club tree at Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

Programme

There is also a programme of activities. On Saturday 4th December 2021 at 10.30 am Swanage Recorder Ensemble will be performing. They are followed at 11.30 am by the Mayday singers.

The U3A Ukulele group won’t now be performing in the afternoon but local schoolgirl Suzanne will be playing piano at 2.30 pm, followed by local young singers at 3.30 pm.

Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival
Children for St George's Pre-school at Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

Children from St George’s pre-school admire the tree that they decorated for the festival

No Sunday service

There won’t be any service on Sunday so the church will be open throughout for visitors. Sunday is devoted to young musicians with solo performances.

Also on Sunday at 10 am there will be a card and letter writing workshop run by the Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society.

Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival
Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival
Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival
Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

Some of the local groups who have decorated a tree

Group of churches

The church is part of the wider newly formed Benefice of St Aldhelm which includes Corfe Castle, Kingston Matravers and Worth Matravers where the church is currently facing major repair work because of long-term damage to the roof.

Purbeck Christmas Tree Festival

The festival runs through until Monday 6th December 2021 and admission is free

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