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St. John’s, Rowland’s Castle

St. John’s, Rowland’s Castle

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I found this church locked which was a shame. The church website is at https://www.saintjohnschurch.org.uk/ and has much about the church life here and sets out the values that the church lives by as well as some history but nothing about being open.

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St. Thomas, Bedhampton

St. Thomas, Bedhampton

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St. Thomas is quite hard to photograph as much of the exterior is hidden by a very large yew tree. There is a good welcome board outside as well as clear openning times on the church noticboard, and I found two young men sat quietly before the altar when I got there. This is why churches should be  open!

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The church website is at http://www.bedhamptonparish.org.uk/ this has much information on it (and a good bit about the ‘Boiler House’ prayer room housed here) but nothing about being open for visitors that I could see – perhaps an omission?

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There was a good selection of leaflets (including ‘Praying in St. Thomas’s churchyard’ and ‘Praying around St. Thomas’s Church’ which are very good) and the church is kept very clean and gives out an atmosphere of love. Some lights were on in the chancel and there is a bowl for prayer requests – a good option for churches which are hesitant about leaving candles around.

 

St. Thomas a Beckett, Warblington with Emsworth

St. Thomas a Beckett, Warblington with Emsworth

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St. Thomas sits next to a large cemetery which received quite a few visitors as I sat there eating my lunch before going into the church. As you can see from the picture above, there is a prominent sign saying that the church is open – important in that context. It is also advertised on the notice board as being open each day. Churches need to be able to respond to visitors in this way. This is a church that is quite isolated, just off a main road, and it would be very easy to make that an excuse for not being open. I am sure that this is much appreciated and several people came in whilst I was there (none of them entered anything into visitors book which had 35 entries for April). This must be a very well visited church.

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The church website is at http://warblingtonwithemsworth.org/ and has some excellent visitors information, including fact sheets about various aspects of the church as well as much about the life of this thriving parish. A good example of what can be done relatively simply.

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Some lights were left on in the chancel and there is a book for prayers and a votive stand to use as well as some simple prayers on a laminated sheet (don’t assume everyone knows how to pray!). There are some laminated guides to the church and churchyard.

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A good church to visit.

St. Andrew’s, Hayling Island

St. Andrew’s, Hayling Island

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St. Andrew’s wasn’t open when I visited, which is a shame as it looks well worth a look judging by the photos on the website (http://www.haylinganglicans.moonfruit.com/st-andrews/4579666324). It is shared with Hayling Island Baptist Church and has lots of events here which I am sure are much appreciated.

St. Mary’s, South Hayling

The Priory Church of St. Mary the Virgin, South Hayling

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St. Mary’s is beside the main road at the centre of the island. The church is open each day and also has a fascinating churchyard with a leaflet about the Commonwealth War Graves to be found here – a very good idea. The website at http://www.haylinganglicans.moonfruit.com/st-marys/4579666373 gives clear visitor information. Inside, I found a lovely clean and re ordered church. There is a prayer board and a votive stand, guide booklets and cards to purchase. Also, some commemorative plates. This is a very nice church indeed.

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St. Peter’s, North Hayling

St. Peter’s, North Hayling

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Onto Hayling Island on a bright but chilly day. The church was open – and is each day according to the website (http://www.haylinganglicans.moonfruit.com/st-peters/4579666396). There is a good welcome notice and a good selection of leaflets etc for visitors, and some simple cards with the Lord’s Prayer on for people to take away. Also, a prayer board right next to the door. These are so often tucked away in an odd corner but this one is very visible and consequently well used. There is also a children’s trail around the church done by NADFAS. It is very good. There is a welcome leaflet especially for visitors with information about services and the various groups etc in this delightful church.

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St. Nicholas Chapel, Langstone

St. Nicholas Chapel, Langstone

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This is a delightful little church well worth seeking out. It is at High Street, Langstone just before you get onto Hayling Island. The church website at http://stfaith.com/ has some good visitor information.

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It is a tiny church with a lot packed into it. The door was open and a welcoming notice stood inside. There are some good local history displays giving a flavour of what this place was like in the past. Also, some prayer leaflets (very good ones) to guide visitors and some local history booklets and water and glasses for thirsty travellers. A lot of thought has gone into welcoming people here and it is a good example of what can be done with a bit of thought and a little effort. But, more than all that, there is a peaceful and prayerful building which is obviously well loved. Go and have a look!

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St. Faith’s, Havant

St. Faith’s Havant

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I had the chance of a trip around the Havant area so took in a few churches. St. Faith stands in the middle of the town and is usually open each day. The church website is at http://stfaith.com/ and is a good example of how a site can be of use to visitors. It has a good guide, some history and an ‘inside tour, street view and photographs.’Unfortunately it was closed on the day I went which was a shame. However, the sign suggested that I visit St. Nicholas’ Chapel so I did…

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The Avon Valley Churches

Amesbury Abbey – St. Mary and St. Melor

This is a church I visited a while ago, but for the sake of completeness I am republishing what I wrote at the time with the odd addition. Looking back, this is an excellent church to visit but, don’t take my word for it, have a look yourself!

A magnificent, cruciform, church is this small Wiltshire town. It was open, as it is each day. Outside there are placed welcome signs to encourage the visitor inside. There were two friendly stewards on duty and I was handed a ‘paddle board’ to guide me around this interesting building. There is plenty to see and a real effort has gone into making a visit both interesting and welcoming. There is a guide book to buy, and some versions in different languages. Also for sale are cards, book marks, key fobs, tea towels and postcards. For children, there is an area left set up with toys and books etc. A Lectionary had been left open along with a card with the relevant gospel acclamation on it. There are two prayer books, which appear to be well used and a votive stand on which to light a candle. The Jesus Chapel is set apart for quiet prayer and this has a stock of prayer books to use. There is a history display and one on the church’s link with the church in South Sudan. This was interesting to look at. There are also pictures of the clergy and others involved with the life of this church. There were a few ‘Prayer Trust’ leaflets on the Christian faith. I rate the Abbey as very good and enjoyed my visit here. 60 people had signed the visitors book in the last month. The church website is at http://www.maryandmelor.com/ This is an interesting site with plenty of material but is a bit thin on specific visitor content. There is also a facebook page which is kept updated (many aren’t!).

 

The Avon Valley Churches

To put these into context, here is a map of the Avon Valley. I have recently looked at the churches from Salisbury upstream to Amesbury.

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St. Andrew’s, Great Durnford

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St. Andrew’s is a real gem of a church, sitting on the banks of the Avon. I found it open. There is always a sense of anticipation when I open the door of a place I haven’t visited before. St. Andrew’s didn’t disappoint! It is wonderfully atmospheric and gives a sense of what many rural churches would have been like before Victorian restorations. It is grade 1 listed because of this and well worth seeing (for those of an architectural bent have a look at http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-321418-church-of-st-andrew-durnford-#.WMHDrUdBqk0). For the visitor I found some prayer cards and booklets (good ones too) and some post cards for sale. A laminated simple guide helps the visitor to understand what is what. There is a votive stand to light candles along with a book to enter prayer request into and some ideas for prayer. There is a small children’s area and I was the first visitor in the visitors book this year! It deserves many more. The church website can be found at http://www.woodfordvalleyparish.org.uk This is very good with all sorts of information on these thriving churches.

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