4th December 1936 – 12th January 2013

The eldest child of Mark and Dorothy Stacey, Corinne was born at Greenwich and, apart from wartime evacuation to Mold, Flintshire, she lived in south-east London all her life.

In 1954 she and Jim met whilst both were learning to ring at St Alfege, Greenwich and they were married there in September 1959. They lived first in Blackheath and then in Morden Park before moving to Orpington in 1972. Philippa was born in 1970 and Alexandra, “Sandie”, in 1974. In 1980 Jim had joined the band at St Martin of Tours, Chelsfield, when Philippa wanted to learn to ring. Corinne continued to ring occasionally, and with a husband (now Tower Secretary) and a daughter (now Tower Captain) so much involved, bells and ringing were never far from her mind. In addition, she loved St Martin’s, which was her spiritual home for so many years.

All her life Corinne loved sewing; indeed she said that she could not remember a time in her life when she did not have a needle in her hand. Sewing first as a schoolchild and later at evening class, she progressed to City & Guilds Diplomas in 1986 - 91 before being awarded the Diploma in Ecclesiastical Embroidery in 1993. In 1988 she had been invited to join the Guild of St Faith, an embroidery group at Westminster Abbey, to undertake conservation work. Eleven years later, she joined the Rochester Cathedral Embroiderers; with an interest in the history of embroidery, much of her recent work was in conservation and restoration. An artistic lady, she was also creative; two years ago the then Dean of Rochester, the Very Revd Adrian Newman, was made Bishop of Stepney and his cope was jointly designed and made by Corinne and her group.

At Chelsfield, whilst we have a number of items on which she worked, she has left a very special legacy in the form of a magnificent altar frontal that she designed and made. A complex and imaginative artistic work, it is based on greens and is used chiefly during the season of Trinity. In a document she explains that it includes references to both church and village, the golden patch just left of centre representing the village, whilst the ecclesiastical parish boundary at the time the frontal was made had the shape of a fish, a symbol of the early church. Golden coloured roads, lanes and footpaths lead to the centre of the village and represent the threads of life; they form triangles as they do so, the triangle being the sign of the Trinity. Our St Martin’s logo has its M adorned with the grid of the method St Martin’s Bob Doubles, its T representing both the Cross of Christ and the sword with which St Martin divided his cloak. The M represents also the baptisms, wedding, funerals and day-to-day services that are held at St Martin of Tours. A small area of purple refers to the workmen who were killed whilst digging Chelsfield railway tunnel in the 1860s and who are buried in the churchyard; also, we believe, it refers to the two parishioners who were killed in 1944 when an aircraft tipped the wings of a V1 “Doodlebug” rocket, causing it to crash on their house in rural Chelsfield, rather than on built-up London a few miles further on.

The Chelsfield altar frontal designed and made by Corinne Rooke

The liturgical colours have many meanings. Blue is for penitence, the Virgin Mary, faith and truth. Purple is used both for majesty and for mourning. Rose pink stands for brotherly love and this has been used in the area of Alice Bray’s cottage at Buck’s Cross to indicate the gift of the field called Bell Ropes that she made to the church in the sixteenth century. A similar mark remembers Peter Collett, founder of the Collett Trust, who lived at Lillys, Chelsfield in the seventeenth century. Also remembered is Court

Lodge, once the home of Brass Crosby who, in 1771, as Chief Magistrate, freed a man who had dared to publish the proceedings of Parliament; Crosby was imprisoned in the Tower of London but was released because of a public outcry. Finally, the method St Martin’s Bob Doubles features very prominently on the left and the right of the work. The photo is by Philip Lane, an occasional ringer and currently a churchwarden.

Canon Leslie Virgo, our Rector from 1974 to 2011, wrote in the parish magazine, “Corinne is a warp and weave and tapestry at St Martin’s, not only in what she has done in so many ways ... she herself became part of the tapestry of our church – part of its life which gives it meaning.”


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers