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Oldest NEWS (Sort of!)

A field of Linseed in Filkins in The Land of the Twelve Churches in Shill Valley and Broadshire

Blue is the colour...

    A field of linseed in flower along the path from Fiennes Restoration (on the A361 in Filkins) towards Oxleaze Farm.

   The photograph was taken by Trish Poole.

28th May 2020

This will certainly be something for the children to tell their children...

St Peter's School Alvescot in the Land of the Twelve Churches in Shill Valley and Broadshire

   "I am writing this letter to tell you about the weird and extraordinary lockdown we’re experiencing now. The lockdown began on Friday 20th March when our Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) announced that we need to close schools for our safety. From then, we started learning from home!
   "I felt so excited and happy at first, because I thought that we would have less work to do. However, I was very wrong. As time flew by, I grew more nervous and worried. I wanted to see my friends and my teachers but I knew the only way was to call them. My dad is a key worker so he still goes to work away from home. This makes me really worried. In the supermarkets, people are wearing gloves and masks to help stop the spread of coronavirus. We also need to stay two metres apart (social distancing). All other shops are closed for our safety..."

   Pupils at St Peter's in Alvescot have been recording their impressions of these extraordinary times in the form of letters. They make terrific reading now, and I suspect they will be read again many times over the years as we, and succeeding generations, remember The Time of Corona. 

   Here is part of one written by Zosia, and you can read the rest of her wonderful letter in the June issue of PARISH PUMP, which many will receive through their letter boxes later this week, and aothers can read here online within a few days.

26th May 2020

The Magnificent Mr Fuddles in The Land of the Twelve Churches in Shill Valley and Broadshire

The name is Fuddles...


    Possibly the best known pony in the Land of The Twelve Churches, this is Mr Fuddles, a diminutive Shetland Showman who lives in Filkins. 

   His personal fetcher and carrier is Eleanor Martin who also manages his affairs, including the occasional personal appearances at parties, weddings etc which he deigns to undertake.

   He can be contacted via his own Facebook page HERE.

   (This lovely photograph, with which Mr Fuddles is very pleased, was taken by Mark Lloyd, also of Filkins.)

25th May 2020

An eye on the time in Langford

   To find out why Richard Kemp, chairman of the Parish Council, is standing by Langford War Memorial very carefully checking his watch...

   ... you'll need to read June's issue of Parish Pump, either when it flip-flops though your letter box in a few days time or right here on this website before the end of May.

   Please do come back...

24th May 2020

Richard Kemp in Langford in the Land of the Twelve Churches in Shill Valley and Broadshire
The front cover of the June 2020 issue of Parish Pump in the Land of the Twelve Churches in Shill Valley and Broadshire

June PARISH PUMP is on its way.....

   If you live in The Land of the Twelve Churches, you will probably receive a copy of June's Parish Pump through your letter box within the next week.

  For those villages where letterbox delivery is not possible, there should be a central point from where copies can be collected.

For everyone, including our faithful readers elsewhere in the world, a copy will be posted here next weekend.

If you have a problem seeing a copy in some way or another, do let me know:

ps: The rose on the cover is from Ena Constable's garden in Filkins, and the photograph was taken by Lynne Savege

23rd May 2020

George Swinford, from Filkins, remembering hard times when he started work as a boy in 1900:

   "When I first started I was not always sure I could do it, as it was three miles to walk there, and so cold. Sometimes I shed a few tears, and asked why could I not stay at home? When you got up in the morning your boots were so stiff you had a job to get them on.

   "We were working for the church in Shilton, walling. The walls were very dilapidated, and the gates had been neglected. It was winter-time, and we came to a pond which was frozen so hard that we could pile stones from the fallen wall on it.

   "It was very awkward, getting round the pond to rebuild the wall behind it, so my father asked the vicar if he would pay a bit more for that part, but he said no.

   "However, we managed to get a good few hares while we were on the job, and we took the old gateposts home as firewood for cooking them."

Hard Times in Shilton

Delapidated stone walls near Shilton Church in the Land of the Twelve Churches in Shill Valley and Broadshire

   There are still duff stone walls near Holy Rood Church in Shilton! 

   The extract on the left is taken from 'The Jubilee Boy' (see below)

22nd May 2020

St Peter's Church Broughton Poggs in the Lando of the Twelve Churches in the Shill Valley and Broadshire Benefice

St Peter's, BP by Helen Dunmall

There's always something...

   Soon after Broughton Poggs church re-opened in the early 1860s, John Avent became rector in 1867, (and stayed there for 42 years.) He had young children, who complained about going to Sunday service in such a cold church...

   ... So the resourceful Mr Avent instructed a maid to bake potatoes on cold Sunday mornings, and have them ready on a tray as the family filed past. Each Avent child would be given a hot potato to hold in  their hands to keep warm in church.


   If only all problems could be solved so easily!

21st May 2020

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –

   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;

   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;

      And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

                                Praise him.

"One of my favourite poems" says Margot Hodson of this corker from Gerard Manley Hopkins: and certainly one to ponder about during this enigmatic Time of Corona, in our Land of the 12 Churches.

Gerard Manley Hopkins Pied Beauty in The Land of the 12 Churches Shill Valley & Broadshire Benefice

20th May 2020

Little Faringdon at Large!

Hi Richard

  I thought you'd like to see Little Faringdon clapping for the NHS in the churchyard as Rupert de Mauley rang the bells. This short video was made last Thursday by Tommy Abdy Collins, using a mini drone. 

  Wondering if you might like to post it on the new Parish Pump website? It’s worth a peek!

  Many thanks and kind regards

Barbara Browne

Happy to oblige. Ed

19th May 2020

Young Arthur is welcomed by Westwell

  Moray Angus, the churchwarden, asked:


  If not too late, can you include the following announcement under Westwell in Parish Pump:

  ‘Warmest congratulations to Bob and Betty Stowe on the arrival of their great grandson, Arthur Richard Michael Parker (8lbs, 5oz) son of Joe and Robyn at the John Radcliffe on Friday 10 May.’

  Unfortunately, it was too late for the June issue, but we are very pleased to let the world know of this happy event here on the Parish Pump website...

  So, all together now: Westwell says Welcome!

Westwell Oxfordshire in the Land of the 12 Churches Shill Valley and Broadshire BeneficeTwelve

Westwell, Oxfordshire

19th May 2020

The road from Filkins to Eastleach

The Road less Travelled

From the Broadshire Link (the parish magazine),  May 1983:

   Our parish ramble and picnic will be on Spring Bank

   Holiday Monday (31st July), and we hope that as many as

   possible will be able to join us...

   2pm  Leave from The Lamb in Filkins

   3.30pm  Arrive at Eastleach (a cup of tea will be provided)

   4pm  Leave Eastleach

   5.30pm  Arrive Macaroni Downs Farm

   Transport will be available back from Macaroni Downs.

That's a five mile parish-walk on a May Bank Holiday...

They were a hardy lot, 35 years ago!

The road from Filkins to Eastleach

18th May 2020

It's what you do

AND how you do it!

Saw this on a walk towards Broadwell, and momentarily thought: 'wow! What a bush!'

And then realised (of course) that it's two.

But it's often the combination that make things special...

After all, riding a bicycle, OK.

A dog, OK.

But a dog riding a bicycle...  

That will sell the tickets!

Unusual bush between Filkins & Broadwell

17th May 2020

Bench at St Peter's Church Filkins

Welcome, Visitor!

  The government said the churches should close for public services, and the bishops said that no one, not even priests, should enter them at all.

  So to get as close to 'normality' as possible, Trish Poole, the churchwarden, has put a new bench in the Churchyard at St Peter's, Filkins... Available to all to pause a while. 

  Keep social distance, of course, but 'welcome visitor!'

  There is already a bench at Broughton Poggs courtesy of a parishioner, so visitors can now have a wander through the village between our two churches, and enjoy two sit-downs and two contemplations!


  Oh, fabjous day! 

<< Trish Poole enjoys the new bench

16th May 2020


... or 'Walker in the walker'

    Magnificent Lynda Walker of Kencot tramped 5km in just over an hour in her horse exercise walker wearing a horse outfit (naturally!).

    Lynda was walking for the Oxfordshire Community Resilience Fund and to date £500 has been raised. 

It's not too late to make a donation... HERE

    Lynda & Nigel at work! >>

15th May 2020

The Elm Tree by William Nicholson in the story of George EDmund Street at Filkins in the Land of the Twelve Churches

Every Picture tells its story

  Elm was once the timber of choice for pews. The Victorian architect George Edmund Street used it in Filkins Church, one of his wonderful early works. (see more HERE.)

  Gothic revivalists like Street liked continuity, and used elm because even more than the oak (destined for faraway ships and glittering castles), the elm was the tree of the English countryside and the village. The ubiquitous elm: ‘Old favourite tree, thou'st seen time's changes...’ as John Clare put it. 
  The elm and us  were intertwined...
‘Every elm has its man’ was an old saying marking both the sinister habit of elms to drop their boughs on the unsuspecting, as well as marking elm’s ‘final’ use as coffin timber. 
  But Ozymandius has fallen! When George Street pewed this church with glorious elm, he could not have guessed that a few generations later elms would be gone from our hedgerows. 

14h May 2020


  On this very day 80 years ago, 13th May 1940, Winston Churchill stood at the despatch box in the Commons, for the first time as Prime Minister, and declared:

 "... I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny..." 


  Ultimately, Mr Churchill led our country to victory. May we once again enjoy victory over another monstrous tyranny... And bring an end to this Time of Coronavirus.

Winston Churchill


Dealing with infectious disease has always been an issue, especially in the days before a national health service. Each parish more or less looked after its own. Here is an excerpt from The Jubilee Boy, with George Swinford talking about arrangements for isolation in Filkins during the 19th century:


  The Pest House, as it was called, was situated in the field between the Pills and the Eastleach road, about a hundred yards from the road. This has now been pulled down, and the stone used for repairing the farm buildings at Peacock Farm. I had pointed out to me the stones in the walls which came from the Pest House.

  Entries in the parish book concerning the Pest or Smallpox House —

       Paid Sam and Porter a bill for wood, bacon and other food for the smallpox folk in my house up in the field £3. 0s. 10½d.

      Paid Joseph Carter for necessitys for Sarah Clack's family when had the smallpox £1. 12s. 9d.

       Paid for milk and mutton for the smallpox folk £1.0s.2d.

12th May 2020

VE DAY 2020

8th May 1945    75 YEARS    8th May 2020

<< Certainly not how any of us expected to commemorate VE Day 2020, but in May 1945 they had managed 6 years of 'keeping going' so we should be OK, after only a few weeks, to make the best of things...

  And we did! Here is Diane Blackett exhibiting memorabilia from the Swinford Museum in her garden in Filkins (All above board: timed entrance slots so that visitors could keep their social distance.)

  Different, but very satisfying, and very interesting. Thank you Diane.

  Peter Blackett keeping a watchful eye on proceedings >>

There will be more VE Day pictures in June's Issue of Parish Pump... Do come back.

8th May 2020

Friday 8th May

Putting out the bunting to celebrate VE day... And to say: 'Please let the Time of Corona come to an end!'

8th May 2020

It profiteth the Lord to have good shepherds

Watchful and kindly, so that the sheep

Be not tormented by their wrath,

  But crop their pasture in peace

And joyfulness, for it is a token

Of the shepherd’s kindness if the

Sheep be not scattered abroard but

Browse around him in company.

  Let him provide himself with

A good barkable dog and lie

Nightly with his sheep.


  Shepherds would live with their flocks, often spending weeks in a shepherd's hut. This is an example at Cotswold Woollen Weavers in Filkins that once belonged to the famous 'Mitford Sisters' family in Swinbrook, Nr Burford. 

A 13th century 'Shepherd's Prayer'   

Shephered's hut at Cotswold Woollen WEavers Benefice Shill Valley Broadshire Land of 12 churches

6th May 2020

St Mark Benefice Shill Valley Broadshire Land of 12 churches


  During 'The Time of Coronavirus', there appear to be endless opportunities to do things that one might not have been able to fit in before!

  So, here are all fifteen chapters of the incomparable

St Mark's Gospel: nearly two hours long, and read straight through as the great story it is.

  It's a deliberately 'un-cluttered' translation, and I hope it is as pleasant to listen to as it was to read...  

00:00 / 1:51:43

Click on the 'start' triangle, sit back and (hopefully) enjoy...

For more on The Time of Coronavirus, click HERE

5th May 2020

The Land of the 12 Churches svbb Benefice of Shill Valley and Broadshire


Our 12 churches are sprinkled across the green and pleasant land, which is crossed by the A361 and A40, with the Thames flowing like a pennant to the South, and not forgetting some of our neighbouring towns and villages like Burford, Carterton, and Lechlade...

2nd May 2020

Benefice Shill Valley Broadshire Land of 12 churches


There has been some good reaction to The Parish Pump-priming Project Wheel that we set turning in March, bringing together the opportunities offered by our churches, their need for money to help sustain their existence, and the modest money that Parish Pump generates. Either as an existing organisation, as an ad-hoc group, or as an individual, think of a project. A concert, a picnic, an exhibition, a play, a conference, a book launch, a treasure hunt... Anything you like!

The only stipulations are:
1   Your project should be based at, or involve an event in, or the use of any one (or more) of our 12 Benefice churches or churchyards.
2   Your project should not oppose the interest of the Church of England, but it does not in any way whatsoever need to be ‘church related’.
3   Half (or more) of the project profits goes to whichever church(es) your project is based at. (Where the rest of the profit goes is entirely up to you.)

Now lots of people can have ideas, and the vim and vigour to see a project through. But not all have the wherewithal (or can sustain the risk), to get it off the ground. And this is where Parish Pump comes in... We provide ‘priming finance’ of  up to £1500 to help get your project up and running. 
Your money from Parish Pump will come by way of a free grant, but we hope that at some future time, by arrangement, your successful project will be able to make a donation to Parish Pump equivalent to the original grant plus 3%. In this way we can keep our  Parish Pump Project Wheel turning, and help further projects. (And, of course, you’d be very welcome to come back with another idea!)
Please email for more information, start working on your project, and let’s set that Parish Pump Project Wheel turning...

30th April 2020

The Blue bell wood in the Land of the 12 Churches

28th April 2020


Here is the 'welcome photograph' from the benefice website. Question... Where in our benefice, so full of beautiful views and villages, was this woodland view taken?


Whoops! It turns out the image wasn't from the area at all, and is probably Foxholes Nature Reserve about 10 miles away! It has now been replaced by a picture of local horses...

Many thanks to all those who entered the quiz, and solved the mystery...

If you would like to know what the Rector is up to during this Time of Coronavirus... 

... although all of our churches are closed, there are some service resources and information about pastoral care available, on the benefice website at

26th April 2020

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