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Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire

September 6, 2012

A few more churches I have visited today.

St. Mary’s, Painswick

Marvellous Painswick

St. Mary’s is a magnificent church, surrounding by it’s famous churchyard with it’s table tombs and 99 yew trees (it is actually 100 now despite the legend that the devil would pull the 100th up).

It is open every day and receives a goodly number of visitors, and deserves too as it is a fine church. They have put a lot of effort into welcoming visitors here too. There is a good welcome sign in the porch and inside there are some laminated history guides to walk around with. These are in no less than 14 different languages which is impressive. Also some guides to buy and some postcards. There are also guides on the bells and a ‘What do Christians believe?’ leaflet which gives a simple outline of the faith. It is well produced (the text comes from the Norwich Diocese). Also some ‘Word for Today’ booklets. The churchyard is a very notable feature of this church so it is no surprise to find a booklet on that, ‘God’s acre; a guide to St. Mary’s churchyard’. There is a display on the tombs inside the church and some plans to conserve them. The visitors book had 200+ names in it in the last month. For pilgrims there is a prayer chapel to use with a prayer board to add prayers and two ‘Prayers to share’ folders with a very good selection of suitable material. Also a votive stand. One other notable feature of the interior are the many colourful kneelers. There is a folder detailing these as well. Also some Christian books for sale.

Pulpit explanation

I had been recommended this church because of the efforts made to explain the Christian faith to visitors. There are some interpretation boards mounted onto music stands. These are put out after the services on a Sunday. They feature the font, pulpit, sanctuary, altar etc. and explain in simple ways what they are used for. A very good idea.

Messy Church Olympic Flame

The children of the church have made a large Olympic flame which is on display. This is part of ‘Messy Church’ which has become increasingly popular.

All in all this is a good church to visit. I rate it as very good. I would give it an excellent if there was some material for children. Well worth a visit.

Website on http://stmaryspainswick.org.uk/

Holy Ascension, Oddington

Holy Ascension, Oddington

I had visited this on the 5th July and found it locked but had heard that it was now open so dropped in.

This has been subject to a project to turn a Victorian church into the much more user friendly ‘Evenlode Vale Church Centre’. It is very well done and still smells new! Not a smell I have often come across in the churches I have been visiting. The sign outside is Okay but doesn’t say that the church is open. There is a welcome notice in the porch. There isn’t a visitors book nor much else at present but there is a display about the Benefice. A thoughtful idea is a labelled switch to put the lights on. This is an interesting project which deserves every success. The modern fittings installed look to be of good quality. From the point of view of this survey there isn’t yet anything really for the visitor. This may come in time so I haven’t rated it.

Re ordered interior, Oddington

More details on www.evenlodevalechurches.org

St. Nicholas, Oddington

St. Nicholas, Oddington

I had tried this before but it was locked. It was open this time and well worth seeing. A very atmospheric church with no electric light. This church is famous for it’s wall paintings – there is a leaflet about these. Most of these wall paintings have disappeared over the years in other churches. St. Nicholas wasn’t used much from 1851 – 1912 so this saved them. They had been whitewashed over at the Reformation and were discovered in 1913. It gives a good idea of what a medieval church would have been like. They are rather special.

Wall paintings, St. Nicholas, Oddington

To look at visitors. There are no signs outside but inside is a laminated plan of points of interest to wander around with. A very instructive leaflet about the wall paintings and a small guide leaflet. The visitors book reveals 87 visitors in the last month. This church is sought out. There are six bells here and a sanctus bell. I rate this as Okay but I like it very much and recommend a visit.

More details on www.evenlodevalechurches.org

St. Mary the Virgin, Wootton by Woodtsock

Wootton by Woodstock

Another church I had been recommended to visit. This is a lovely church in this Oxfordshire village. It is open and there is a very welcoming sign outside which invites the visitor in for a time of peace and quiet.

Wootton memorials

Inside, I found no guide book but some bible notes to take and some postcards. One of which features Francis Kilvert’s (the famous nineteenth century curate of Clyro) marriage certificate as he was married here. His wife, Elizabeth Rowland lived in the village. Probably a story to make more of. For children there are some books and toys around. Another good Messy Church display here to look at as well. There is a side chapel for prayer with a good selection of prayer books and a prayer board to use. A Bible is open on the lectern. One thing that really struck me here was the number of World War One memorials to be seen, including some wooden crosses which had been brought back from France and Belgium and hung on the wall. Again, some more stories to tell. Only 5 visitors in the book, one of which had grumbled about the 20th century memorials in the church. I rate this church as good but there is certainly more that could be done here by way of telling the stories of those who have been connected with St. Mary’s over the years.

A good welcome at Wootton

There doesn’t seem to be a website but there is a brief entry on achurchnearyou.

St. Mary Magdalene, Woodstock

Woodstock

This church stands in the centre of this small town. A sign is placed outside telling passers by that the church is open. Inside there are some Oxford Diocese leaflets, ‘Christianity a Simple Guide’ and ‘Pilgrimage, a simple guide.’ There is a guide to buy, some ‘bats’ to walk around with, cards and post cards for sale and a folder about the many kneelers here ( featuring local themes). There is a small children’s area to use. 10 people in the new visitors book in the last week. Some books for sale, including children’s ones. A prayer corner is set up and there is a prayer board to use.

Woodstock

In the chancel there is hung up an altar frontal which for St. Nicholas. This has an explanation of who he was. There is an open Bible as well. Also, another Messy Church Olympic torch. One unusual survival is a World War one ‘Roll of Honour’ giving the names of those serving in the armed forces from Woodstock.

I rate this church as very good from the point of view of this study.

Website at http://parishes.oxford.anglican.org/bladon-woodstock/

Waiting at Woodstock

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