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Chiltern Churches Festival

May 14, 2013

One recent feature has been the growth of ‘Church Festivals’ around the country. Currently there is one running near me – the Chilterns Festival from 11th – 26th May (see for more details). I have had a look at a few churches that are a part of this.

St. Thomas, Holtspur

DSCF8345A striking modern building that is usually open. Not every church will be historically significant but every church can have a ministry of welcome to local people who may come in seeking peace, quiet or to pray.

St. Thoma’s had set up a labyrinth as part of the festival – laid out on a large piece of canvas on the floor. It is to encourage the pilgrim to reflect on the journey of faith by using Psalm 139. It was very well done. I found that I was their first visitor to try this!

Labyrinth laid out at St. Thomas

Labyrinth laid out at St. Thomas

There were also a number of ‘Prayer stations’ around the building a fair trade stall and refreshments were on offer. Gentle music was being played in the background. There was also a votive stand to use and a prayer tree. One of the friendly people there told me that this was a new venture for them.DSCF8348 It was all very well done.

St. Thomas interior

St. Thomas interior

There was a range of the excellent Oxford Diocesan leaflets and a small pile of ‘Why Jesus’. A notebook had been left out to put comments into and I was encouraged to do this.

All in all I rate this as very good and this is an idea which dersves to be widely adopted. Well worth a visit.







St. Mary and All Saints, Beaconsfield

St. Mary and All Saints Beaconsfield

St. Mary and All Saints Beaconsfield

A grand church right at the centre of Old Beaconsfield. It is open every day from 9am – 6pm. The main signboard proudly proclaims this which is good to see.. Inside I found a free ‘Short Guide’ and there is a bigger one available for a modest £1.50. The free sheet gives most of the information an interested visitor might like to know. The larger booklet is an excellent publication with many colour photos. I also found a ‘Welcome to St. Mary and All Saints Church Beaconsfield’ folded leaflet giving details of staff and church activities. Also very well done. It is obvious that this is a church which is trying hard to welcome both mid week and Sunday visitors.

There is also a full; range of the Oxford Diocesan leaflets – which are succinct and well produced. The church website is at- This clearly says, on the home page, ‘Our church is open daily for worship, prayer and reflection. We hope to see you soon…‘ Excellent!DSCF8352There is a votive stand to use as well as a very well used prayer requests book. This is a church which is prayed in – on a reading desk was a copy of Common Worship Daily Prayer, open on the correct day, with a lectionary and a bible. This is always good to see. Sometimes we are too tidy! Churches exist for prayer and it is so good to see one being used for this.

Lovely welcome notice

Lovely welcome notice

There are some toy bags for children and 23 people had signed the visitors book in the last month.

By the visitors book there is a very good welcome notice. And the following comment had been written in – this was dated Wednesday 24th April; ‘Here when I needed it and welcomed me with magnetic attraction.’ This one simple comment illustrates nicely why our churches should be open.

I rate St. Mary and All Saints as very good.



St. Michael and All Angels, Beaconsfield

St. Michael and All Saints, Beaconsfield

St. Michael and All Saints, Beaconsfield

A church I have never visited before in the newer part of Beaconsfield. The church website is at and says; ‘

St Michael’s Church is open every day.

You are very welcome to come in for personal prayer or quiet time.’

The visitors book had only been signed 5 times this year but I expect many more people than that have been in. St. Michael’s is an interesting church and is very well kept. There was no history but again the Oxford Diocese leaflets were available. DSCF8355

St. Michael's interior

St. Michael’s interior

There is a prayer board, which is well used and a votive stand which had no candles. There was a reason for this – this is the first time I have come across this.

Problems with candles?

Problems with candles?

There was one thing that I particularly liked here – a simple leaflet which is entitled’ When no one is here’. It goes on to say ‘ God is always here and we want you to know that you are welcome to – spend time looking around – to be still – to sit quietly and pray – to light a candle (but see above!) – to write a prayer request – to use the prayer walk leaflet (these seem to have been all used)‘ A good response to visitors.

I like St Michael’s very much and rate is as very good for the visitor. It would be nice to have the candles back!


Holy Trinity, Penn

Holy Trinity, Penn

Holy Trinity, Penn

Holy Trinity is open every day. I found the door open, welcoming me inside. The sign outside doesn’t say that the church is open but on the reverse it does exhort me to ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord’.

Welcome to Holy Trinity

Welcome to Holy Trinity

Once inside I found a glass and jug of water for thirsty wayfarers. There are some lovely etched glass doors into what is a delightful church. It is well worth a visit. There are cards for sale and some information leaflets on items of interest such as the ‘Penn Doom.’ Also some notable tiles.DSCF8362

The Doom t Penn - which was nearly taken to the tip!

The Doom at Penn – which was nearly taken to the tip!

There was also a nice children’s booklet on the church, ‘Search and see’ – a lot of effort had gone into this. It is a pity that these aren’t for sale being stamped, ‘Not to be taken away.’ There is also a folder on burial records which will be useful to those searching for family graves and a folder on the colourful kneelers here.DSCF8363

A prayer book was also open on a table and people had used this recently. The church website is at It implies that the church is open rather than actually saying so!

I rate Penn as good for the visitor.

An interesting afternoon out! The Chilterns Church Festival is well worth supporting.



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