Sunday, September 8, 2013

Small old church has big Royal ties with Great Britain

St. Philip ACK church at Naromoru where Queeen Elizabeth II attended a service on February 5, 1952. PHOTO|FILE.

St. Philip ACK church at Naromoru where Queeen Elizabeth II attended a service on February 5, 1952. PHOTO|FILE.  NATION

By JAMES NGUNJIRI
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When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge named their new born baby as George Alexander Louis in July, the news for the future King was received with jubilation across the United Kingdom.

It did not take long for the excitement to reach Naro Moru, a small rural town between Nyeri and Nanyuki.

The town at the foot of Mount Kenya is home to a number of Britons who settled in Kieni constituency.

Naro Moru has a special connection with Queen Elizabeth II, as it was here on February 6, 1952, that as Princess, she received the sad news of her father’s death, signalling her own ascension to the throne.

Many of the Kenyan citizens of British origin now living in Kieni congregate at an old small church named St Philips, constructed by their parents in 1947 near Naro Moru town.

The church can accommodate up to only 150 worshipers.

On Sunday, July 14, they attended a special service at the Anglican church to commemorate the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

At the time, they were not aware that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, would later be admitted to St Mary’s Hospital in West London in her early stages of labour. 

The church is located in a region of independence war secrets and untold tales, with places of interest that few outsiders know of and insiders dismiss as normal.

Mike Prettejohn, owner of Sangare Conservancy, says the land is suitable for growing different kinds of crops for export to Europe.

That’s precisely what led to an influx of settlers reacting to the ravages of the Second World War in Europe.

The history of the church is thus linked with the settlers takeover of land in what was popularly referred to as the white highlands.

Historical monument
The settlers contributed money to build the church. It took two years to complete St Philip’s Anglican Church.

Princess Elizabeth attended divine service at the church just a day before her father’s death. She stayed at the nearby Sagana Lodge (currently the Sagana State Lodge) and Treetops.

The Royal connection to St Philip’s Church is strong, with Her Majesty‘s Coat-of-arms proudly hanging in the church.

A blue carpet on display in the church was given by the Queen.

It was part of the carpet that was laid in Westminster Abbey for her coronation. Inside the church, there still exists an old piano and an old Holy Bible, used when it was built.

The church is located next to River Naro Moru, making it a good scenario for wedding ceremonies.

In a Kenya gazette notice dated January 4, 2013, the Minister of State for National Heritage and Culture in consultation with the National Museums, declared it a national monument.

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