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St. Leonard’s, Watlington

May 10, 2014

St. Leonard’s, Watlington

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Watlington is a small town at the base of the Chiltern escarpment. St. Leonard’s Church is rather hidden but worth seeking out. The church website can be seen at http://www.stleonardswatlington.co.uk but this has no visitor information on it. The church appears to be open every day and there is a sign put out under the shelter of the lych gate.

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I visited on a dull day and when I opened the door into the church I found the interior rather dark. However, walk a couple of steps and some lights come on automatically. They could do with staying on a bit longer but are certainly needed here.

DSCN0031On the table near the door is a lovely welcome notice, ‘whatever your reason you are very welcome’ – very good. There is a selection of the good Oxford Diocesan leaflets available but no church guide, which is a pity as this is an interesting church. There is a laminated guide hung on the wall to borrow as the visitor walks around but the lack of a guide is an omission here. There are mugs, shopping bags (these seem to be popular in many churches) for sale. Also a very good churchyard record with a lot of detail in it. Very welcome for those researching family history. This must have been a real labour of love.

Evidence of an active children’s work can be seen by the provision of a children’s corner. There is also a very good Easter Garden here – one of the nicest I have seen.

Easter Garden at Watlington

Easter Garden at Watlington

In the south chapel (Lady Chapel?) there is a prayer board for visitors to use but it is not very obvious and could do with some explanation on it.

DSCN0032DSCN0034There is a modern statue of St. Leonard in the south aisle but it is not easy to see against the dark stone of the building, which is a great pity as it is very good. It would also be good to see some biographical details of the saint as, although he is a relatively common patron, he is not at all well known. Exciting Holiness has this to say about him;

‘Leonard the Hermit

6 November

According to an eleventh-century Life, Leonard was a sixth- century Frankish nobleman who refused a bishopric to become first a monk, then a hermit, at Noblac (now Saint-Léonard) near Limoges. The miracles attributed to him, both during his lifetime and after his death, caused a widespread cultus throughout Europe and, in England alone, over a hundred and seventy churches are dedicated to him.’

St. Leonard statue

St. Leonard statue

I therefore rate St. Leonard’s church as good for the purpose of this study. It wouldn’t take much to make this very good. Certainly worth a visit.

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