Work starts on improvements in Milton

A SPADE blessing ceremony has marked the beginning of work to install a kitchen and toilet at St Blaise Church in Milton.

The Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust has donated a grant of £16,000 to the project. The Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, the Bishop of Dorchester and President of OHCT, led prayers to mark the start of the work.

Blessing the spade in Great Milton.

The aim, in line with a wider community plan for the village, is to provide a community space in the church for youth clubs, homework clubs, receptions after baptisms and funerals, coffee and tea clubs for older people, exercise classes, cinema evenings, concerts, quiz nights, harvest suppers, barn dances and other events.

The celebration of the completion of the new roof for All Saints Church, Wytham.


All Saint's, WythamTHE congregation at All Saints’ Church Wytham is getting ready for a celebration after the completion of a five year £120,000 project for a new roof.

A £51,700 Heritage Lottery grant and money raised by the Friends of All Saints funded the new roof, after the old one was found to be in need of  repair back in January 2011. The most urgent work was carried out in March of that year, and the fundraising campaign was launched. Work began in August 2015 after the Bat Conservation Trust had monitored the bat colony in the roof and granted permission.

The new roof was completed in November 2015.  The work, which included the replacement of the chancel cross, which had long been missing, was carried out by local firm Woodstock Roofing.

Other charities that made donations were:

  • The Gladiator Trust
  • Bartlett Taylor Charitable Trust
  • Mr & Mrs J.A.Pye’s Charitable Settlement
  • Garfield Weston Foundation
  • Oxford Historic Churches Trust                                 

Riding, striding and scooting for historic churches

A TEAM of cyclists pedalled from the Lords “the home of cricket” in London to their own home of village cricket in Wytham in Oxfordshire.

Tom Hollis and his cricket friends about to cycle from Lords to Wytham.

Tom Hollis and his cricket friends about to cycle from Lords to Wytham.

The four men, from Wytham Cricket Club, raised £1,200 for the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust. They were among hundreds of people in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire who once again chose to ride bikes or horses or walk around as many churches as possible to raise funds for their respective Historic Churches Trusts.

Tom Hollis, Captain of Wytham Cricket Club, said this was the second year running the cricketers had decided to get on their bikes for the Ride and Stride.
Tom said: “Our route took us out along the Grand Union Canal and then to Stoke Poges, Bourne End, Cookham and Marlow before we started climbing the Chilterns.
Once we’d (with a small diversion in error) crested the hills at Christmas Common we headed back to Oxford via Watlington, Cuxham, Chalgrove and Stadhampton. Highlights included riding through Burnham Beeches and the views of Oxfordshire as we rode down into Watlington.

“I have to admit that as we approached the 60 mile mark we were delighted to see signs for Oxford, and gradually to see the tower blocks of Blackbird Leys on the skyline.”

They arrived in Wytham after six hours and 30 minutes in the saddle. The Friends of All Saints Church had the bunting out and rang the bells as they arrived. “The cold beers that were waiting were very welcome too,” added Tom. “We were pleased with what we raised but we would love to push that figure even higher.” To sponsor the cyclists go to In Radley, near Oxford, a mini event gave young children the chance to walk around the village church or scoot up the path.

The Revd Pam McKellen said: “We have decided to attach a project to it as OHCT is good at helping us.  We are aiming for £2,000 and £1,000 will go to the OHCT, the other will pay for a replacement gate.”
Meanwhile in Buckinghamshire, the MP for Beaconsfield, Dominic Grieve cycled, visiting every church in his constituency. Mr Grieve, who does the ride every four years started at St Thomas, Holtspur and finished at All Saints Bisham. He had cycled about 50 miles.

Dominic Grieve and son Hugo set off from St Thomas's in Mayflower Way Holtspur on a sponsored cycle ride to raise funds for the Buckinghamshire Historic Churches Trust. Photo: Buckingham shire Advertiser.

Dominic Grieve and son Hugo set off from St Thomas’s in Mayflower Way Holtspur on a sponsored cycle ride to raise funds for the Buckinghamshire Historic Churches Trust. Photo: Buckingham shire Advertiser.

In Berkshire a group from Binfield visited churches in White Waltham, Shottesbrooke, Waltham St Lawrence, Ruscombe, Twyford, Hurst and Binfield with a couple going on to Sonning and Henley.
Clive Betteridge, of the Berkshire Historic Churches Trust said: “We also had a team of motor-cyclists who were attempting a round-Berkshire trip from Lambourn in the west to Old Windsor in the east and back by a different route.”


Bishop joins Ride and Stride 2014


Colinby Colin Fletcher

UFFINGTON, Baulking, Goosey, Stanford-in-the-Vale, Hatford, Shellingford, Fernham, Longcot, Watchfield, Shrivenham and Woolstone all sound pretty idyllic – and what’s more I’m assured that there are not too many steep hills around when I set off with Basil Eastwood, the Chairman of Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust, to cycle round their churches on September 13 as part of this year’s Ride and Stride events.

The purpose, as many of you will know, is to raise money both for the Trust (celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year) and for people’s local churches. Sponsorship is the name of the game and, as well as what I’ll be sponsoring myself, I’d be delighted to receive any donations either here at Arran House, Sandy Lane, Yarnton, Oxfordshire, OX5 1PB or on my Just Giving page (
It would also be lovely to be joined by any other cyclists on the route – provided you are not too fit.

But for me it’s more than a cycle ride – and it’s more than just a fund-raising event. Since taking over as the Area Bishop for this part of Oxfordshire earlier this year I have managed to visit a few of these churches but I am greatly looking forward to seeing a number of new ones – and to meeting some of those who worship in them week by week.

All we need now is a dry day without too much wind.

The Rt Revd Colin Fletcher is the Bishop of Dorchester.

Churches reshaped

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Bishop Colin (right) pictured with Basil Eastwood, Chairman of the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust and Becky Payne who wrote Churches for Communities.

Bishop Colin (left) pictured with Basil Eastwood, Chairman of the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust and Becky Payne who wrote Churches for Communities. Photo and words by Jo Duckles. 

CHURCHES are being reshaped to once again become the central hubs of communities across the UK.

And some of the best examples have been highlighted in a book published as part of the  50th Anniversary of the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust.

Post offices, village shops and community centres are relocating into churches as they are redeveloped to retain their authenticity as sacred places of worship while becoming useful on a more practical level. Churches for Communities highlights 25 of these projects. The book, written by Becky Payne, formerly the Policy Officer at the Church of England’s Cathedral and Church Buildings Division illustrates changes taking by focusing on places of worship in the towns and villages of Oxfordshire. The very significant reshaping of these historic churches has been undertaken to meet modern worship needs, to enable the buildings to be used for a wide range of community activities and, increasingly, to deliver vital community services. These projects reconnect the churches with their communities and provide them with a more sustainable future.

Here are stories from the incumbents and the teams, largely of volunteers, who have given their time and energy to raise millions of pounds and to work through the challenges involved in adapting an historic place of worship. We hope that other churches embarking on similar projects will derive inspiration and benefit from the achievements and experiences described here.

In his foreword, the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, says: “My hope is that this book will help Church Councils and others catch a vision for how their church can best serve its community – and how it can be adapted for doing so where that is needed.” The book was launched at the prestigious Blackwells Bookshop on Oxford’s historic Broad Street on Wednesday, February 19th 2014


No more drips at St Brits


AFTER years of patching up the slipped and broken tiles and of strategically placing buckets and towels on the pews and over the hymn books, St Britius Church Brize Norton has a beautiful new roof.St Britius's Church, Brize Norton

The re-roofing of this Grade 2* listed building has been a huge undertaking, costing almost £400,000. A dedicated team set up the ‘Stop the drips at St Brits’ campaign, and worked tirelessly, organising events and applying for grants. The people of the village really got behind the project and turned out to support the many and varied events, which ranged from pancake suppers to balls and a beer festival.

The project was generously supported by English Heritage, WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd) and the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust. Grants and donations were also received from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, Allchurches Trust and the Bartlett Taylor Trust as well as RAF Brize Norton Charities Committee and other local businesses and individuals.

The Rt Reverend Colin Fletcher, the Bishop of Dorchester,  joined the congregation and villagers for a Songs of Praise and Thanksgiving on Sunday 16th June to celebrate the completion of the beautiful new roof. Jacquie Griffin, the Churchwarden said: “This church has stood at the centre of Brize Norton for 900 years, providing continuity and a focal point for the whole community. It is wonderful that we can now pass it on in a sound and secure state for future generations to enjoy.”The only way is up!