Saturday 4 January 2020

2019 Review

In keeping with my usual practise at beginning of the new year I review the previous years Church Explores or Church Crawling as it is known. This year I have updated the map with more icons and have tried to improve it though I am still behind on updating it. My plan of visiting the Churches on the map ended up with me visiting other churches I have not listed, I even found a couple of blogs I had not listed on the map. I manage to visited over 45 Churches this year seeing some amazing murals dating from the middle ages. In 2020 I hope to continue visiting the churches I have listed on my map though I have no doubt I will find others I have not. I have been using both my compact plus DSLR cameras when I visit and  have not started using my iPhone where I upload a photo of the church to Google Maps
The first church of the year was a revisit to Hampstead Norreys where I had been informed that a tomb I had mentioned in a blog had been refurbished so I took the opportunity to get a few more photos in the church as well.
The Next few Churches were from Wales that  I managed to visit the end of the previous year
The First of which was St Dubricus Gwenddwr A lovely little church set in the Hills outside Builth Wells

St Afan Llanfechan was next, this church stands back of the main road along a road that was cut off when the other was improved at some time.
The church was restored in 1866 but retains a 14th century font

February saw me at
St Michael of all Angels Llanfihangel was the next church which is along B4358 from Newbridge on Wye I might add you can miss the church because of the trees it is behind. Parts of the church date back to the 14th & 16th century

St Afan Llanafan Fawr
is along the road from the last church but the setting looked bleak with the weather I arrived in. The church does have some old features in which I missed on my Visit so If I am passing again at some time I may drop in and get some photos of them

The next place I visited was somewhere I spend my schooldays next door to, Reading Abbey ruins. They are beside my old Primary school and we were taken there on a few occasions. The ruins were closed because they were in a dangerous state but had recently been reopened so I went to see them

Piscah Chapel I passed on the way to the previous church and stopped off at on the way back to look at

The month ended with a Visit to Wessex, and St Mary Childrey  in truth it is called Oxfordshire now after residing in Berkshire for many years. This was the first of some churches I would visit that date back to the 12th century

March started with
The Holy Cross Sparsholt
which took two attempts to get photo of due to the external views being spoiled by a mistake I made in the settings. The church was well worth a visit as it was the first time I has seen Wooden Tomb Effigies

St John The Baptist Kingstone Lisle
was next on the list and one worth looking at because of the wall paintings dating to the 14th century

From Sparshot it was St Mary Uffington that was next a church called the Cathedral of the Vale because of its looks and because it can be seen for miles around

is not far from Uffington and still looks like it comes from middle ages when it was built and contains wall paintings from that time as well

I finished the month off with a look around St Mary The Virgin Ashbury
which is right on the Oxfordshire Wiltshire boarder and worth stopping off to see because of the North transept which has been made into a chapel to the memory of Evelyn, Countess Craven. There is also a room over the porch that is worth looking at

In April the following week we were in St Swithun Compton Beauchamp
a little gem of a church worth visiting for the wall paintings even if they were painted in the 1930's

All Saints Woolstone
was the next one which I visited and one where you will see one of the very few lead fonts in the country

The next week I filled in with Osney Cemetery
which is one of the Victorian cemetery's in Oxford and now used more as a green space as no burials are allowed there, it near the station if you want to spend a few moments there

The following week saw me back in West Berkshire at St Mary Great Shefford
this church is unusual in that it is only one of two churches in Berkshire with a round tower

In May I had only gone a mile or so from the last church and was in St Thomas East Shefford
a church now cared for by the Church Conservation Trust I would say it is one of the nicest ones I have visited

St Gregory Welford
is the second church that has the round tower though I feel it looks a looks a little odd on the church, none the less I did enjoy my look around the church

St Mary Fawley can be seen on a hilltop as you drive past on the way from Hungerford to Wantage. The church was rebuilt by the Victorians and on trace of the original is around apart from some items you can see in the church

The month ended at
St Andrews Chaddleworth
is a few miles away and not an easy one to find being tucked back of the road but well worth visiting for the memorials and chapels in the church

I started off June with a visit to
All Saints Brightwalden
The church existed in 1086 and the building was demolished in 1863 by the present church

The following week I was in Hereforshire for the first of three churches I would visit in the county
St Michael and all Angels Lyonshall
I had driven past and looked up at this Church may times on my was to Builth Wells and it was time I visited. I'm glad I did

Not many miles away along the same road you pass by Kington where you will find the church of
 St Mary the Virgin
Were I found an interesting story of how the Hound of the Baskervills came to be

For some reason I got it in my head to visit this church as I had seen it on the map Kennerton Church
is what may have once been a chapel of ease though I cannot find it named after and saint

St Stepan Llanstephan  was on my list of churches I intend to visit. You many notice some green pins on the map this was one of those churches. I still have  a few to visit then I will go into the reason for it. This church sits on the hillside above the Wye Valley with some wonderful views and if nothing else is worth visiting to see them

As we reach the halfway point of the year I am back in Herfordshire and St John Shobden
a stunning mid 1700's church that looks beautiful and well worth visiting

I return to Oxfordshire the following week visiting St Laurence Combe
a church that dates back to the 12th century and has 15th century wall paintings

The next church I took you to was St Mary North Leigh
which is well worth a visit to see the doom painted over the chancel arch

A few miles away is Freeland where I visited St Mary the Virgin Freeland
a High Victoria Gothic Revival church with 13th century stile wall  paintings. The church was built in 1869

August sees me back in Wales and St Gwendoline Llyswen
another church I pass quite frequently and thought It was time to visit

Not far away is St Cynog Broughrood
which can be see from the main road to Builth Wells, the spire sticking up above the trees

St Michael Bryngwyn 
is next, it has an unusual feature  that you can see in the church. The Ogham Stone which dates to the  7th-9th century. You can see some more unusual carving on the southeast corner of the church

St Mary Newchurch
is not that far away but along with the previous church I had to visit it twice because I messed up the settings on the camera

August finished with
 St Michael St Michael-on-Arrow
the church is just inside the Welsh English boarder. The church has a belltower that reminds me of a barn stuck on the end. It also has a rood screen in the church

In September I was back in West Oxfordshire at
 St Giles Great Coxwell
which is a beautiful little church with the remnants of it past still to be seen. Not often you get to look up a rood stair

All Saints Faringdon
took up the next two blogs because there was so much to see though it was nearly a disappointment due to the church being locked. Lucky I bumped into the vicar who took me to the person to see

The month ended with
St Mary the Virgin-Buckland.
An amazing church inside  because of the South Transept

In September I visited
 St Nicholas East Challow
A church I had put off visiting because it always seem to be at just off the area I wanted to go so I made an exception and just went along. I felt it was well worth going to see.

 The next church in October was at St Mary Virgin Little Coxwell
which I had to make an appointment to see.  I have to say It was well worth the effort of arranging

St Mary the Virgin Longcot
Is a church that is set back off the A420 and one which surprised me in that it had a link to the Titanic and was a beautiful church with a Jacobean pulpit


The Holy Ascension Littleworth
was the last church that month and one I had missed at first while searching the map around Faringdon so made an effort to visit before I forgot


In November I was at
St John the Evangelist Fernham
which is not far from Little Coxwell but I did not go there expecting to see inside so was not disappointed when I found out it was also a day nursery with the little dears playing round the back in part of the churchyard. I found out the place also doubles as a community facility. I think I will pass trying to see inside

The next week I was in Henley on Thames, a place where most people think of the regatta and not
 St Mary's Church 
which overlooks the Thames and town. No doubt they never thought to look at the Chantry house that dates to around 1500 or remember Dusty Springfield has a memorial in the churchyard

After visiting Henley I went off to see another church
 St Mary the Virgin Fawley. 
It was not until I was on by way home I passed a post telling me I had left Buckinghamshire. I never did get in the church but the two Family Vaults that dominate the churchyard were worth seeing

The end of the month saw me on the opposite side of Oxfordshire at
 St Denny Northmoor  
This was the first of three stunning old churches I was to visit. I loved the fact part of it dates back to the 13th century

St Michael Stanton Harcourt
came next, I had long wanted to see this church but never seemed to get the time but I did on this occasion. I can only say if you are in the vicinity then go and see the church, The Tomb effigies are amazing even if you are not allowed in the chapel to see them looking through the gates at them is worth the effort

The last church on this trip was
 St James the Great South Leigh
Never realised the place existed though I should have known better  being as I went to the North one.
This church has the most amazing Doom which makes the visit worth while

I had the opportunity to visit Rose Hill Cemetery
the following week as it was near another church I was visiting in Iffley. The cemetery is another of Oxford Victorian cemetery's that are around the City

St Mary Iffley
was the one church I had wanted to visit after reading about the Norman Architecture that could see be seen. The doorways are stunning I kept looking at the carvings wondering about the craftsmen that carved them back when the place was a village outside the walls of Oxford
That brings the review of 2019 to an end, hopefully I will get to visit more churches in 2020 though like 2019 there may be the occasional one I add to my never ending list
Till Next time May I wish you all a Happy New Year


  1. Thank you for your review of the churches and some chapels you visited in 2019. A good record indeed. Thank you for sharing these ancient places of worship. Happy new year! Looking forward to seeing more visited churches in 2020. May your travels take you to some wonderful places.

    1. Don't worry I will be starting with more next week and will be visiting one you went to

    2. Thank you Bill. I shall enjoy seeing where you take us :)

  2. I really enjoy seeing all the churches you photograph, please keep it up.

    1. I will I enjoy seeing the places you visit as well

  3. a good year - keep on exploring! ;o)

  4. What a great recap, I know how much work it is to put this together!

  5. Billy, Dear Virtual Friend
    Summary of the year is a great idea.
    I really like meeting English churches with you.
    I am delighted with excellent photos, relationships and beautiful architecture.
    Hugs and greetings.

    1. You take us to lots of amazing churches though the year

  6. ...Bill, a wonderful review of 2019, my best to you in 2020.

    1. I try my best, Happy New year to you as well Tom

  7. You have done amazing work. I hope you are preserving it in hardcopy form too.

    1. I do dave the data from the blog, nink it would take a lot of paper printing it off

  8. Hi Bill! As you will know, I've been on a blog break for a few months. Just today getting back into checking out some of the blogs I've missed and finding this post on The Church Explorer. Bill, this is just an amazing post. My goodness, you put a lot of time into this and it looks great! I think we share a fascination with churches. In the fall I did some travel that took me to places where I could check out some old churches. I will post some of those pictures in the weeks ahead. Your pics are way better than mine and I just can't get over how many churches you have photographed. Congrats on this wonderful post. Thanks, as always, for keeping an eye on John's Island and for your kind comments there. Best regards and wishes for a Happy New Year to you and yours! John

    1. Thank you fro you comments as well John, I'm glad you appreciate the work I do

  9. All of these were splendid churches to see.


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