It’s time to limber up for the Ride and Stride

Ride + Stride is the major annual fundraising activity for  Historic Churches Trusts across the UK.

Yet again thousands of people will walk, cycle or ride their horses around as many churches or chapels as possible on Saturday 14 September.

The funds raised are split equally between churches nominated by the participants and the Historic Churches Trust in the relevant county. Each year the Buckinghamshire Historic Churches Trust alone gives grants totalling £60,000 to help to preserve the fabric of churches and chapels.

The trusts offer ideas for cycling and walking routes in most areas of their counties and will have a number of guided walks on offer, enabling walkers to relax and enjoy the company of others. Some routes are suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs, comprising smooth paths winding through beautiful green spaces. The Berkshire Historic Churches Trust has a route that includes a ‘hunt the animal’ quiz for participants.

This year the Oxford Historic Churches Trust organised a publicity event for the Ride + Stride, inviting clergy from across the Diocese to have a go at riding penny farthings. The fun event culminated in a ride into the centre of Oxford.

More details about taking part in Ride + Stride email







On your marks for the 2017 Ride and Stride


AS fans gear up to watch the pro cyclists speed through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire during the Tour of Britain race, another high profile to raise money for historic churches will be taking place across the Diocese of Oxford. The annual Ride and Stride will take place on Saturday 9 September when people of all levels of endurance and enthusiasm can pedal, hike or horse ride around as many churches as possible.

Ride and Striders at St Katherine’s in Berkshire in 2016

This is an event which appeals to churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike, anyone in fact who enjoys a good walk, cycle or horse ride. Schools can take part or perhaps get involved in drawing up cycling and walking routes around the local area. Youth groups, walking groups or exercise classes or cycling groups all might enjoy the challenge and for other, not so active, groups and individuals there are lots of ways to help. Organisers need volunteers to man churches, provide refreshments and sponsor participants. Routes don’t have to start or finish at your local church and can be as long or as short as you wish, but half of what you raise from sponsorship will come back to the church of your choice.

For historic churches trusts, this is the major fundraiser of the year and brings in vital funds for churches in need of repair. It is a national event which offers everyone who appreciates the beauty and history of our local churches the chance to get out and visit as many as they can, raising money in the process to help save them for future generations.

Last year, thousands of participants battled the rain to support Ride+Stride. They cycled, walked, pushed buggies, rode horses and even drove vintage tractors between churches and raised thousands of pounds in the process. Oxfordshire fielded their youngest every participant, three-month old Sebastian, (aided and abetted by his mum) while at the other end of the spectrum, 94-year-old Muriel walked to twelve churches around Oxford.

Your local churches trusts – Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire – are hoping for an enthusiastic turnout this year. Information is available on their websites or through the network of county and local church coordinators or via the national Ride+Stride website

Joint patron, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, Bishop of Reading, says: “Wherever you go in our counties, on hilltops, nestling in the folds of hills, or on the bends in rivers, you will find a beautiful, historic church, waiting to be discovered. Ride+Stride is a wonderful way to enjoy some of our beautiful countryside and discover some of these gems for yourself. Please help us keep our churches open, not only today, but for our grandchildren’s children, too.”



‘Bridget Jones’ church in the Ride and Stride

DESPITE wind and searing rain hundreds of people turned out for the annual Ride and Stride to raise funds for historic churches in the Diocese.

And one of the churches highlighted in national publicity, was St Lawrence’s, West Wycombe, where the wedding scene in the new Bridget Jones’s Baby movie was filmed. St Lawrence’s is already on the tourist map as it is on West Wycombe Hill, a National Trust park, which features the stately home of the Dashwood Family.

Joshua Harris, of Cohanim Architecture, poses at St Lawrence’s, West Wycombe. Photo: John McAllister

Joshua Harris, of Cohanim Architecture, poses at St Lawrence’s, West Wycombe. Photo: John McAllister

A team of Striders from the Swan team of churches in Buckinghamshire after a damp day’s walking.

A team of Striders from the Swan team of churches in Buckinghamshire after a damp day’s walking.

Brian Prosser, the treasurer at St Lawrence’s, had previously worked with film production companies before he retired from his work as an insurance broker. He first heard that the film company were interested in the church when he took a call from West Wycombe Park. “They told me they were interested in using the church for the wedding scene. About 20 people turned up, the full production team for Bridget Jones.” Part of the deal meant someone from the church was present every day during the filming, so Brian, his wife and his daughter-in-law watched the whole process.  They completely stripped the church, they took everything out, even the font, but they took photographs of everything and put it all back. The day after they left you would never have known they had been there,” he said. “It was jolly interesting. I had to sign a confidentiality statement saying I wouldn’t discuss what was going on. They filmed a couple of different endings for the scene. They came back two weeks later to borrow a pew for a day because one of the scenes hadn’t come out very well. They took the pew to the studio to re-film it there.”

The film crew also left the flowers, which Brian says must have cost thousands of pounds, for the church. Brian said there were enough to decorate both St Lawrence’s and St Paul’s Church, also in West Wycombe. The production company also delayed the filming so that they did not disrupt Remembrance Sunday services.

Brian was speaking just a few days after the Ride and Stride, which despite the bad weather, saw people riding cycles and horses and walking around churches across the UK, to raise money for the Historic Churches Trusts. The National Historic Churches Trust used the Bridget Jones line to publicise the event at St Lawrence’s.

The trusts across the country aims to raise funds for repairs to churches and has helped St Lawrence’s with a donation of £5,000 towards a £7,000 repair scheme for dry rot. While not an urgent project, St Lawrence’s is working with Joshua Harrison, of Cohanim Architecture to re-build a room that was demolished in the 1960s because it was unsafe. The £50,000 scheme will provide a room for children’s work, as well as providing more space during special events. Across the Diocese, churches were open, many with refreshments, for people taking part in the Ride and Stride. Basil Eastwood, Chair of the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust, took part in a peloton of six people, including Bishop Colin, to cycle around churches for the annual event. “The weather wasn’t what it could have been but we all had a good time and ended up rather pleased,” said Basil. Sponsorship is still coming in and being counted, but the event usually raises around £130,000 for the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust.

Nina Newton, from the Buckinghamshire Historic Churches Trust, cycled 58 miles on an Eliptigo – a stand-up bicycle that works both the legs and the upper body. Nina said she spent 18 hours travelling between churches in the wet weather. Nina, who has been publicising the Buckinghamshire Ride and Stride, said: “Lots of churches were open with refreshments and there were lots of heritage open days. I did cut my ride slightly short in the end as visibility was getting so poor.”

Nina said that in her Deanery alone there were two long walks, one of 17 miles and one of 18 miles. “There was one walk that left from Waddesdon at 10am and got to its destination at 6.45pm.”
Clive Betteridge, of the Berkshire Historic Churches Trust, cycled 14 miles and visited several churches. He said: “The weather put a lot of people off. It was hard but with proper wet weather gear it was okay and most of the churches had made the effort to provide tea and coffee.”

Also in Buckinghamshire, the Swan Team of Churches used the event ride and Stride to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its formation with a stride between its seven churches.  Peter Hornigold, the church warden at St Leonard’s, Grendon Underwood, said: “At 9am, on one of the wettest days of the year, a team set off from Barton Hartshorn and walked via Chetwode, Preston Bissett to Twyford where we enjoyed a Ploughman’s Lunch. After lunch we continued to Marsh Gibbon, Edgcott and at 4.30 pm arrived tired, sore and wet at Grendon Underwood. We were provided with refreshments and made welcome at all the churches on route. Congratulations to the 8 intrepid walkers who completed the whole 15 mile route and the 3 who undertook half the journey.”

The Bridget Jones’s Baby movie was due to be released in cinemas from September 16. 

Filming in churches can be a great opportunity for raising funds and for positive publicity, but a Faculty is needed. Contact the Registry on 01865 297211 or your Archdeacon. 

Bikes, bishops, tractors and Bridget Jones to help save England’s historic churches

ENJOY a Psalmathon, go biking with the Bishop and visit the church featured in the new Bridget Jones film, Bridget Jones’ Baby; just some of the things to do on Ride and Stride on Saturday, the annual fundraising day to save England’s historic churches.

Basil Eastwood and Bishop Colin take part in the Ride and Stride.

Basil Eastwood and Bishop Colin take part in the Ride and Stride.

Over 10,000 people nationally will be taking part in ‘Ride+Stride for churches’, cycling, walking, riding horses and even driving tractors to take part in special events and visiting over 8,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses which will be open specially for the day.

Heritage at Risk

Riders and striders are sponsored to visit as many churches as they can in a day and aim to raise £1.5 million to help pay for urgent repairs to churches, chapels, and meeting houses.

Currently, there are 887 churches on Historic England’s ‘Heritage At Risk Register’ and urgently need external funding support to deal with repairs to roofs, stonework, spires and towers.

Many of the churches on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk Register’ will be open for ‘Ride+Stride’, including St Mary, Kemp Town, Brighton, a magnificent neo-Gothic Victorian red brick church; and the ancient Saxon-origin church of St Clement, Burnham Overy, Norfolk.

A great day out discovering England’s churches

As well as raising much needed funds to stop churches from crumbling, ‘Ride+Stride’ is the perfect opportunity to discover England’s beautiful and historic churches and chapels.

Highlights include the Grade 1 listed Collegiate Church of St Mary, Stafford, on the site of the Anglo-Saxon chapel of St Bertelin; and St Lawrence, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, which has a starring role in the new Bridget Jones film.

The majority of churches will be open between 10am and 6pm, with many running guided tours and providing locally made refreshments including cakes, home grown plums and ginger beer.

The Ride and Stride website at gives full details of how to take part in the event and includes an interactive map with information about the best churches to visit on 10 September

Bear Grylls 

Bear Grylls, Author, Television presenter, Chief Scout and national ‘Ride+Stride’ supporter said: “Many historic churches, chapels and meeting houses are battling to survive. Roofs leak, ancient timbers rot and medieval stonework crumbles. Now you can help by joining the ‘Ride+Stride’ adventure, a sponsored bike ride or walk discovering beautiful churches, which also raises money for their repair and preservation.”

Bike with the Bishop

In Oxfordshire, you are invited to ‘Come biking with the Bishop’ with the Right Rev Colin Fletcher, Acting Bishop of Oxford, who will be cycling 27 miles to visit 20 churches. Bishop Colin said: “Do come and join my party, I hope that all around the county, young or old, will be on their bikes and enjoying a great day out.”

Tractors a-go-go

Not everyone in Oxford is joining Bishop Colin – two vintage tractors will be visiting churches across the county. A 1964 Massey Fergusson 35X and a 1953 David Brown Cropmaster are heading to 25 churches from St Mary’s Great Milton, to St Mary’s Chalgrove. They’re taking along a tow rope as well – just in case.

Prams and buggies

People with prams and buggies can join the Ride and Stride with a brand new short walk of two-and-a-half miles designed specifically for them in Buckinghamshire, starting from St Michael and All Angels’ church, Waddesdon.

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.