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- Keeping Oxfordshire’s churches fit for the future
- Winchester gears up for Ride + Stride
- Dame Judi backs the Bard
- Vicars get in the saddle
- Clergy – could you learn to ride a penny farthing?
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In Yorkshire it’s Ride+Stride come rain or shine
Ride + Stride for Churches is a day that can be enjoyed by all ages as the Sturley family, from Knaresborough, did in 2017 in Yorkshire. Despite the poor weather, they had a wonderful day. Here’s hoping for better weather for Ride+Stride for Churches in 2018 on Saturday 8 September.
Waterproofs and sun cream
“Our day started grey and drizzly… hmmm… Waterproofs and sun cream were jammed into the rucksack, God loves an optimist! On the way to York we made a little detour to visit the church of All Saints in Long Marston. This church has an amazing story: around 600 years ago it was moved, stone by stone, about a mile and a half up the road following a breakout of the plague. That would be an unenviable task even in modern times but in the early 1400s it must have been a massive undertaking. The local people who were manning the church were very friendly and as the heavens had by this time really split open, we enjoyed their hospitality for almost half an hour! The church has some lovely round Saxon arches and by contrast a stained glass window that dates from WW1 and depicts a submarine in one of its panels.
Arriving in York we took the Park and Ride bus into the centre. For Thomas (8) and Lucy who had turned 7 just the day before, a bus ride always adds excitement to any day!
Another “All Saints” – this time on Pavement in York city centre – was our next stop. This pretty church is the regimental church of the Dragoon Guards. The building is 14th Century but a church has been on the site for approximately 1300 years. The octagonal lantern tower used to guide travellers into York through the dangerous Forest of Galtres.
Shrine to peace and reconciliation
Our next visit was very sobering: the 15th Century church of St Martin in Coney Street. I think many visitors to York stop to admire the enormous clock in its gilt frame that protrudes over the street, but most probably don’t pay much attention to the church itself sitting quietly in the background. St Martin’s was severely damaged by Luftwaffe bombs in 1942 and lay derelict until the late 1960s. The part that was still standing was then restored and has become a shrine to peace and reconciliation. The building has a very special atmosphere, quite unlike any others we visited. The children enjoyed adding their prayers to the prayer tree there.
From St Martin’s we moved onto its sister church, St Helen’s, just opposite Betty’s Café. St Helen’s has adapted to changing times and in recent years started to offer services for the Chinese community in York. It’s a very pretty church and very peaceful after the bustling street. By this time it was well into the afternoon, we’d been walking for a fair while and had been rained on a few times. The children were starting to get that “Are we nearly done yet?” look about them. Rashly, I promised “just a couple more and then we’ll have a look round the Minster”.
Stepping into another world
Our next stop was an absolute delight: Holy Trinity Church in Goodramgate. Tucked away behind the shops, away from the hustle and bustle of York on a busy Saturday, it’s like stepping into another world. Outside the door is a large and rather fragile looking bell with the encouragement to “ring for peace” – how could Lucy resist? Inside the building with its amazing old box pews and higgledy-piggledy floor Pete muttered “There isn’t a straight line in the place!” Despite its great age the church has hi-tech visitor information facilities with an interactive screen and some kind of modern magic called QR codes to help you to get the best from a visit.
Just before the Minster we planned to pop into St Michael le Belfry, a squat building that sits in the shadow of its huge neighbour. Unfortunately there was a wedding taking place so we couldn’t go inside, but the kids were happy to have their picture taken with the vintage VW bus that was parked outside the front and bedecked with white ribbons!
And so we arrived at the Minster: aching and dragging our feet. Having found an official to sign our form, we managed to bypass the queuing tourists and were allowed into the Minster proper for a look around. It’s funny how, from the outside, you can’t appreciate the sheer scale of the place – it is VAST. Despite the aches and pains we did manage to have a good trek round and enjoy the stunning architecture. The choir were singing as we wandered around which certainly enhanced the experience.
Leaving the Minster we nipped across the road to St Wilfrid’s RC Church. Standing proudly in front of the Minster, this is another beautiful building that is well worth a visit – the church is hung with wonderful paintings and the domed end of the building is magnificent. St Wilfrid’s too has had a grant from the Trust a few years back to make safe some dangerous masonry.
An exhausting but fabulous day out
All-in-all it was an exhausting but fabulous day out. We saw some wonderful buildings, learned some fascinating facts, met some lovely people and brought away lots of good wishes for the congregation of Holy Trinity Knaresborough. …oh, and at the time of writing we think we’ve raised just over £200, half of which will come to Holy Trinity. All funds raised are divided equally between Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust and your own nominated church or chapel, as if you needed another good reason to dig out those walking boots.
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