About Parish Pump

See foot of this page for 'Why has the Church withdrawn its support?'

PARISH PUMP is produced by a host of terrific volunteers to keep each other (in this Land of the Twelve Churches) informed and (hopefuly!) entertained. Although it has thrived under several different production systems, there has always been a significant church presence in the magazine. This is partly because many of that 'host of terrific volunteers' have always been church members, and partly because in a rural area like ours (and quite separately from religious allegiance), the physical presence of our many church buildings has for centuries had a strong cultural and social influence on us all, and therefore on what we think we should be telling each other about. Churches, like village halls, schools, shops and pubs, have provided the cement and certainty in our village lives. One hopes that this may continue: we shall see...

On 28th June 1995, HM the Queen approved the formation of the Shill Valley & Broadshire Benefice to comprise the parishes of Alvescot, Black Bourton, Broadwell with Kelmscott, Broughton Poggs with Filkins, Holwell, Kencot, Langford, LIttle Faringdon, Shilton and Westwell.

Such an apparently gargantuan amalgamation of ten parishes with 12 churches, and a total of 15 villages and hamlets, prompted a correspondent to write mournfully to The Times that the Church of England must be in desperate straits.

Although these 'desperate straits' have led, among other things, to a split in the benefice, here we are nearly 25 years later... Still with 12 churches, varying from medieval to Victorian, open and standing proudly in our 15 villages dotting the northern bank of the Upper Thames in 'The Land of the Twelve Churches'.

If you enjoy reading PARISH PUMP, the magazine for 'The Land of the 12 Churches', do please consider donating £10 towards its costs (for details of how to pay, please email: editor@parishpump.net), and do please come and see us... We have not only the 12 beautiful churches to explore, but other great things to see and do (and great pubs too!)

The Land of the Twelve Churches


  There have no doubt been church and village magazines since Caxton was a lad, but before these last few years of desk-top publishing, they were painstakingly typed and gestetnered or similar.

  One such was 'The Broadshire LInk' which, for a decade or so, detailed the goings-on in the villages that made up the Broadshire Benefice of parishes.

  In April 1985, a two page tail-piece appeared for the first time, a rag-bag of jokes and puzzles called... Yes you guessed it: 'The Parish Pump'.

  After the two benefices were amalgamated (see above), a new joint magazine replaced the Broadshire Link and the Shill Valley magazine, and the name chosen was... (Again you've guessed!) 'The Parish Pump'.

  The Vicar at the time, Fr Richard Harrison, thought that a successful community-based magazine would help weave the different 'strands of parish tradition and practice' into a new coherent and hopeful Benefice of Shill Valley & Broadshire.

  Successive editors, with their armies of essential contributors, distributors, and (of course) readers have sought to do just that, and the Parish Pump is still here!

Where we came from: here are three copies of The Broadshire LInk from 1985, including April's issue, which contains the very first mention of 'The Parish Pump'. It is interesting to see how things have changed and also, for that matter, stayed the same.

Just click on the title of which ever issue you would like to read...

The masthead of the very first 'Parish Pump' included as an 'extra' in the April 1985 issue of The Broadshire LInk.

To past editors and others... Ros A, Jane B, Gill C, Lin E, David G, Nick G, Ellie M, Karen S, Liz S (and anyone else I have missed out), and to all our correspondents, and to all our distributors and all our advertisers, and to all our readers... Thank you all.

Where has the Church gone?

   Dear readers of Parish Pump

   We have been asked so many times recently: 'what has happened to the Church? Why has the Shill Valley & Broadshire benefice withdrawn support from Parish Pump?', that it seems easiest to write this, rather than answer all the questions individually.

  The last ‘Rector’s letter’ was supplied on 10th March (for the April issue). In mid-April, Harry (MacInnes, the Rector) emailed that he and Margot (Hodson, the Associate Vicar) would no longer be contributing anything to Parish Pump, and on 30th April, Harry resigned as a director of Benefice Together Ltd (the company that produces the magazine.) I have not heard substantially from Harry since mid-May.

   Precisely because of the difficulties there had been under previous editors, when I returned to edit Parish Pump in 2018, we established a proper limited company, Benefice Together Ltd, with four directors. The express reason was to provide a bulwark against individual ‘rogue directors’ (whether the editor or anyone else!)

   Bluntly, if Harry did not like Parish Pump’s editorial policy or style or anything else about it, he had every opportunity to take responsibility, enlist the support of the other two directors, change the editorial policy or get rid of me, and put Parish Pump back on his chosen path. He did not do that, but instead resigned.

   Harry and I have agreed very affably about many things, and disagreed about some others. So far as I know, all the latter have been resolved or could be, and if there are any outstanding matters, I am quite happy to discuss them.

   Meanwhile, Parish Pump, and I personally, remain as committed as ever to extolling the Church of England in all its village glory. I have often quoted Joan Edwards' magic poem: 'I love the village parish church, the humble graves and rhyming verses to those who made it what it is and haunt its precincts still…' 

   It is what Edwards calls 'The sense of always being there' that allows churches to occupy a unique position in almost every village; and Parish Pump tries vigorously to applaud the army of excellent priests, churchwardens, PCC members, and others who keep these fires burning.

   It is the benefice management’s withdrawal of support from Parish Pump that has caused us to make changes, and more are now inevitable to ‘fill the gaps’. I might add that this has entailed a deal of extra work, and I cannot deny that I have been somewhat disappointed after the development of Parish Pump over the last twenty years.

   Of course, it is perfectly fine if the Church prefers to speak only to itself, through a ‘membership email’ and the YouTube film service/interviews. The YouTube films have been better and better made and the makers deserve congratulations, but the viewing figures do not anything like match those for the pre-coronavirus real congregations. And magazines can most certainly reach parts that email cannot.

   Above all, if not put squarely in the context of the wider community (as Parish Pump has always sought to place it) the Church will inevitably wither even quicker than it has been.

   At the moment, in collaboration with my remaining director colleague, I will continue to produce Parish Pump, and it would be good to hear that the Parishes will continue to collate and send their news, and, of course, deliver the magazine.

   I gave Harry advance sight of this statement, but did not hear from him. Parish Pump would, of course, love to return to a more constructive relationship with the benefices in 'The Land of the Twelve Churches'.


   (1st October 2020, and small update 2nd October)