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                                                                CHURCHES & PUBS GROUP


The group meets once a month – apart from January and August – when we visit a Church, followed by lunch at a nearby Pub. Group members select the churches and arrange the visits, often working in pairs. Where someone is new to this, help and support is available from a more experienced member.

Since regrouping, following the Covid lockdown, we have visited churches in Blewbury, Marcham, Faringdon and, more recently, the beautiful, historic Dorchester Abbey. 


Number of Members - 20


Meeting Dates: The first Friday of every month, apart from January and August.


Contact Person – Lis Froggatt – l.froggatt66@outlook.com



The Church of St Laurence, Warborough – 1st  December 2023


Twelve group members travelled to Warborough on a rather cold and blustery day. On arrival we were met by our two guides, the Revd Myles Godfrey, Stipendiary Priest and Michael Watkins, Church Warden, who invited us into the Parish Hall – which was warmer than the Church. There we were served hot drinks, chocolate biscuits and Christmas cake, while we learnt about the history of St Laurence. The oldest parts of the Church date from ca 1200, though it is thought that there may have been an earlier chapel there since 1140. In 1539 the living was acquired, and is still held, by Corpus Christi College, Oxford.


We were then shown around the Church which has some wonderful stained-glass windows.  The visit was completed by a “thought and prayer” moment, in the course of which we learnt about the tragic story of Laurence, the patron saint. 


We finished off the visit with lunch at The Six Bells.


We were made to feel so welcome at Warborough and we all agreed that this had been a wonderful way to conclude the year’s programme of visits.


The Church of St Laurence, Combe – 3rd November 2023


Fifteen group members visited St Laurence’s Church in Combe on 3rd November. This was at the time of Storm Ciarán, and the weather had been grim, with lashings of rain and high winds. However, things had improved and we had a beautiful morning for our visit. St Laurence dates back to the 12th Century, when it was given by the Empress Matilda to the Benedictine Monks of Eynsham. In the fourteen-hundreds it was granted to Lincoln College, Oxford which remains the patron of the Living.

Our Guide was James, a student of Theology at Oxford University, who lives in Combe and is very proud of the Church.


James told us about the history of St Laurence’s and pointed out some interesting features, such as remnants of stained-glass windows dating from the 15th Century, medieval wall paintings,  a  rare stone pulpit, and some very old floor plates; one features a hare, an animal traditionally associated with Combe.   


We finished off the visit with lunch at The White House in Bladon.





                                          Visitors and guide enjoying the last of the morning sunshine. 


St Mary the Virgin, Chalgrove – 6 October 2023


Twelve group members made their way to Chalgrove on a lovely early autumn day, to visit the beautiful Church of St Mary the Virgin. The present building dates from the mid-12th century and is thought to have been erected on the site previously occupied by a Saxon church. St Mary has the most complete set of medieval wall paintings is Oxfordshire.


Our very knowledgeable Guide, Robert Heath-Whyte told us about the history of the Church which was first gifted by Edward II to one of his favourites, Piers Gaveston. Following  the murder of the latter in 1312, the King gave the Church to the Abbey of Thame.

Mr Heath-Whyte gave us a detailed description of the wall paintings in the chancel, which depict the Tree of Jesse and the birth and death of Jesus, as well as the death and Assumption of the virgin Mary. The church has recently undergone a major renovation project, involving skilled local craftsmen.



                                       Visitors in the Chancel, marvelling at the splendid wall paintings.


St Peter & St Paul, Wantage – 7 July 2023


Nine group members visited Wantage on a very hot summer’s day, starting with lunch at The King Alfred’s Head pub, then walking the short distance to the ancient Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul. It was beautifully cool.

Our Guide, Churchwarden Alastair Hunter, gave an interesting talk about the history of the Church, the oldest parts of which date back to the 13th Century. He pointed out a full length brass of Ivo Fitzwaryn, a member of an important local family, whose parents are entombed in the Fitzwaryn Chantry, and who himself became the father-in-law of Sir Richard (Dick) Whittington. Most of the magnificent stained-glass throughout the Church dates from the Victorian era but there is one small window containing medieval glass, depicting St Stephen.

Alastair recited some lines from the poem “On leaving Wantage”, by Poet Laureate John Betjeman, a former long-term resident of the town. At the end of our visit we were treated to a cup of tea and listened to the Church Bells play the hymn tune “Angels’ Song” by Orlando Gibbons. The mechanism plays three verses of this tune every three hours - day and night.



                                      Visitors and guide on the splendid tiled floor in the Chancel. 



St Andrew’s, Headington – 2 June 2023


Sixteen group members visited St Andrew’s in Headington on a beautiful morning in early summer. The churchyard looked its best with the roses and salvias in full bloom.

The Vicar, Fr Darren McFarland, gave an interesting talk about the history of the Church and surrounding area. King Ethelred is thought to have been christened there, and he is featured – wearing his crown – in the East window which depicts the Adoration of the Magi. Fr Darren’s talk was full of stories, some poignant, others very  amusing.

We finished our visit with lunch at The Black Boy, around the corner from the Church.



St Michael’s Church, Stanton Harcourt – 3 March 2023



                                       Group members, and guide, before the Shrine of St Edburg.

Our extremely knowledgeable guide, Gillian Salway, provided a wealth of information about the Village and the Church, and their connection with the Harcourt Family; they have held the manor of Stanton Harcourt since 1191, and successive generations are buried in St Michael’s.

There are numerous monuments, including one to Sir Philip Harcourt and his first wife, Ann, who died at the age of 19.

We were given access to the Harcourt Chapel, which is not normally open to the public. The tomb chests there include that of Robert Harcourt, a prominent Yorkist, and his wife, Margaret, both wearing the Order of the Garter. There is also an effigy of Sir Robert’s grandson, and namesake, who was a standard-bearer, on the Lancastrian side, at the battle of Bosworth Field. Amazingly, above him hangs a remnant of the standard itself.

It was a most interesting visit, which we rounded off with a delicious lunch at the Harcourt Arms next-door.


St Bartholomew’s – 31 March 2023  

St BartsSt barts

                                                         Coffee in the magnificent Spencer Chapel                       

This was a very friendly and informal visit, led by the Vicar, Oliver Petter, who has been in Yarnton for nearly five years. St Bartholomew’s is a beautiful parish church, the oldest parts of which date from ca 1100. The Spencer Chapel, which was built in the early 1600s, contains some extravagant memorials, as well as an octagonal 12th Century font. Other special features of the church include a number of sculptured alabaster reredos and some wonderful stained-glass windows.

We were enchanted by the large collection of beautifully embroidered kneelers.

Gill, whose father was a Master Carpenter  St barts

We finished our visit with lunch at the smartly refurbished Turnpike.

St Michael’s and All Angels, Leafield – 5 May 2023


                                                  Some of the visitors and guide, Simon Salome-Bentley


We had a nice day for our visit to Leafield, described as a small, modest village with a very large church. This was built in 1859-60 to a design by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The work was funded by the then Vicar, the “wealthy and energetic” Rev. Henry Worsley.  The decorative sheet metal scrolls, which can be seen in the photograph, were created by Mrs Worsley.


We finished our visit with lunch at the Fox Inn.


Forthcoming Visits:

The visits scheduled for January and February 2024 have been cancelled, due to the Botley Road closure, and we will resume our programme in March with a visit to Ducklington.


If you would like to join the Churches & Pubs Group please get in touch with

Lis Froggatt, l.froggatt66@outlook.com




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