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‘Hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway…’

July 19, 2012

Perhaps not actually – anyone know where this quote comes from? Answer at the end.

With the promise of rain it seemed sensible to not venture too far from home. Today, then, I pottered around Buckinghamshire with a brief venture into Bedfordshire (and saw no rain!).

All Saints, Wing.

A really special church, parts of which date back to Saxon times. The signage is very good indeed being clearly open and welcoming to the visitor.

Inside I found the set of Oxford Diocesan leaflets. There is also a children’s area left set up. 29 people had signed the visitors book in the last month.

Also, there are folders on the war memorial and also one detailing the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. As I have already noted this is a very welcome development in many churches. There is a prayer book to use and a quiet area in a side chapel – which is not labelled up for prayer use but certainly lends itself to it. There is also a small lending library.

All in all this is a church which has given a lot of thought towards welcoming visitors and deserves a rating of very good.

All Saints, Wing

All Saints, Leighton Buzzard

This is a lovely town centre church. There was a good bustle about it on my visit as they were preparing the excellent church cafe which runs on Thursdays and Fridays. The people doing this were friendly and welcoming to an obvious visitor (being festooned with a camera is a bit of a give away). There is a clear welcome from the signs which make it plain that the church is open every day.

Inside, there is a good selection of guides and a few books for sale. Only one person in the visitors book in the last month! This is probably because it is tucked out of the way and not at all obvious. There is votive stand and a prayer board both of which were in use. There is also a lovely side chapel for prayer and a toilet for visitors to use.

This is a good church to visit. There is much of interest and I would give it a rating of very good. I do feel that just a little more thought into how visitors are welcomed wouldn’t go amiss.

St. Mary’s, Woburn

St. Mary’s, Woburn

Woburn was busy with people today so it was disappointing to find St. Mary’s firmly locked. And, to make it worse, there is no indication of when it might be open nor where a key could be obtained from. A quick look on their website (www.woburnparishchurch.org.uk) has this, ‘Whoever you are or where you are from, you are all very welcome.

At St. Mary’s we want to help people of all ages to discover the wonderful love of God, and to help Christians to grow in their faith and to serve Jesus Christ in every area of their lives.’ Apparently not if you are an interested visitor – this church is in ‘A Thousand Best Churches’. The website might need re wording! I would rate this church as very poor as no effort has gone into welcoming the visitor. It is rather depressing and a missed opportunity in a place like Woburn.

Holy Trinity, Drayton Parslow

This was locked as well. Although, in all fairness, there is a notice which tells the visitor to ring one of the wardens to enable access. A pretty little church which does look worth a visit. Not rated.

St. Swithun’s, Swanbourne

A delightful little church which was open. There is a welcome sign on the gate which is always good to see.

Inside was a simple church guide and some of the Diocese of Oxford leaflets. There is a children’s area but only 4 visitors in the book in the last year! A bit surprising really as St. Swithun’s is the sort of church worth seeking out. There are copies of the parish registers from 1565 – 1836 which must be of use to genealogists.

There is a bible left open on the lectern as well. I would rate this church as good.

St. Laurence, Winslow

St. Laurence, Winslow

I happened up St. Laurence as they were preparing for a school leavers service so could only take a quick look. The signs are OK but do not mention that the church is open to visitors. I assume that the church is normally open. The website (www.stlaurencewinslow.org.uk/ ) doesn’t mention it.

There are the usual Oxford Diocesan leaflets and a church guide. The visitors book had been signed by 14 people in the last month. There is a small book shop and a children’s area. Overall a good church for the visitor.

St. John the Baptist, Granborough

St. John the Baptist, Granborough – an amazing heating system!

St. John the Baptist, Granborough

This lovely little country church is open. The signs outside are basic and there is no guide available inside that I could see. Only 1 visitor recorded in the last month! They must get more than this. There is a good display of people and events which really does help to bring the church to life. They all appeared to be having a great time! There are three things that make this church stand out. There are some good angels painted on the East wall and an interesting alabaster crucifixion scene displayed. A guide would be useful here to give some more information! Also there is the most amazing heating system – two simple flues which extend up through the roof. I am not sure how effective they would be on a cold day but someone must have a nice little job of keeping them stocked up. This is the sort of little detail that I like to notice!

Overall I would rate this church as just about OK. So much more could be done here with a little effort.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, North Marston

This little church exudes a sense of holiness. It used to be a pilgrimage destination as the one time Rector, Sir John Schorne, is supposed to have conjured the devil into a boot! There are quite a few ‘The Boot’ pubs around Bucks and these would have been on pilgrims routes. The remains of the shrine can be seen – picture below.

North Marston

Today’s pilgrims can kneel there and bring their petitions to God as our medieval forebears once did. There is a real sense of both history and holiness here. The signs outside are basic. There is a prayer book to enter prayers in to – this is well used which is good to see. Also there is a prayer tree which could do with a suitable label on it to make it a bit more obvious. There is a church guide and a nice 1617 chained Bible on display. The Bible is left open on the lectern. This is a really wonderful church with a great story to tell. So much could be made of this. I can think of several other examples of similar churches which have become real magnets for pilgrims. This could easily be one of them with not much effort – a good one for The Small Pilgrim Places Network perhaps? – http://www.smallpilgrimplaces.org/

I can really only give St. Laurence an OK because there is so much potential here. A recommended visit!

St. Michael and All Angels, Waddesdon

I bit of a sad one this. On the door is a notice-

St. Michael and All Angels, Waddesdon

It is real shame that they have been left with no choice but to lock this delightful church. I am not sure what the answer is. I obviously cannot rate this one.

St. Michael & All Angels, Waddesdon

There you have it. A mixed day with good and bad. Lets see what the next visits bring.

Oh, and the quote? ‘Fly on a Windshield’ from the  Genesis album ‘The Lamb lies down on Broadway.’

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