& 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
Number of Members - 20
Meeting Dates: The first Friday of every month, apart from January and August.
Contact Person – Lis Froggatt – email@example.com
The Church of St Laurence, Warborough – 1st
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
We finished our visit
with lunch at The Black Boy, around the corner from the Church.
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.
St Michael’s Church, Stanton Harcourt – 3 March 2023
and guide, before the Shrine of
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
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
Gill, whose father was a Master Carpenter
We finished our visit with lunch at the smartly refurbished Turnpike.
St Michael’s and All Angels, Leafield – 5 May
Some of the visitors and guide, Simon
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.
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
Lis Froggatt, firstname.lastname@example.org
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