Category: Ride+Stride

Mediaeval Monastic Houses in Somerset

With Ride+Stride this weekend, Philip Skelhorn, Trustee, has made available an abridged version of an article he will make available in full in due course , which can be read here about the mediaeval monastic houses in Somerset, with Woodspring Priory an important first visit on Saturday 11th at 9.45am.


Ride+Stride THIS month!

News of fund-raising plans for this year’s Ride+Stride.
Cycle rides, pilgrimages, abseiling (not!) and parachuting – what else is happening?
Across Somerset, many friends of the Trust are planning their weekend R+S activities.
The weather is ‘set fair’! So, what are we up to?
To read all about it, click here.


Turkey Talks! Rev’d Elizabeth Dudley in Istanbul

(From our Istanbul correspondent!) It is not unusual at this time of year to think of Turkey – in our case, though, it is the inventiveness of our great supporter Liz Dudley.

Liz (aka Rev’d Elizabeth Dudley, Vicar of Christchurch and St Mary’s, Frome) did not let the matter of her honeymoon get in the way of supporting Somerset Churches Trust’s Ride+Stride 2020. If she could manage to negotiate getting married in the year of lockdowns and restrictions, the mere matter of being in Istanbul over the R+S weekend was not going to deflect her from fundraising. And, what a magnificent achievement as her efforts raised over £800! With arctic temperatures in Somerset in January, she can think back to September in 30C heat as she and husband Rob visited 10 of Istanbul’s churches in one day (face masks must have been a trial).

Liz said “Christianity is the minority faith which has faced persecution previously and is beginning to feel it once more. It made me very aware of the enormous privilege and even complacency in England with the prominence and acceptance of our buildings in our communities something that we take so much for granted that we often see our buildings as burdens rather than treasures.”

Raise Money for Ride+Stride Without Leaving the House!

I have been an avid Supporter of Ride+Stride for many years, having been the organiser for Somerset for nine years from 2009 to 2017 during which time we raised £134,000 for churches and chapels in Somerset.

For a number of years I was a member of the National Committee where I think my biggest achievement was to add “for Churches” to the Ride+Stride logo on the grounds that the national media really had no idea what the event was all about.

Over the years I have cycled the thirty plus mile “Ten Towers” route form Wedmore out to Brent Knoll and back, walked the Bath Route which takes in twelve churches and chapels from St John’s Hospital Chapel to Magdalene Chapel Holloway, and visited all of the churches and chapels in and around Wells.

However, with Covid 19, 2020 has been different to all previous years and for a long time it was unclear if Ride+Stride would even take place or if churches would be open or could be stewarded. Even being allowed to stray far beyond our own front doors was in doubt. So, having “rode and strode” for many years it suddenly occurred to me why not just undertake a virtual Ride+Stride and stay at home.

Having created a Virgin Money Giving sponsorship page I posted “My Story” as follows:

“I have now been a trustee of Somerset Churches Trust for ten years. During that time we have raised money not only to maintain and repair churches but more importantly to keep them at the heart of their communities. In many villages the church is the only community building and many still don’t have basic facilities such as a toilet or simple catering facilities. Now, more than ever we need to help rural communities to ensure that their church is fit for purpose in the 21st century. That’s why I’m raising money to help keep Somerset’s Churches alive for the community. Ride+ Stride on 12th September is our main annual fundraising activity. However, in view of the current Covid 19 situation, our programme of walks and cycle rides is unable to go ahead in the usual way. So instead of sponsorship I would be really grateful if you could make a donation to help us in our mission of keeping our wonderful churches at the heart of our communities. Many thanks.”

This was accompanied by photographs of me with my bike and at the Launch event which we held at the Bishops Palace Wells.

I am pleased to say that my friends and relatives were incredibly supportive. Their donations with Gift Aid enabled me to raise £638.

Next year, however, I may not have an excuse and may have to get out on my bike again!

Chris Hawkings

Ted Marsh: A Ride+Stride Hero

Realising on Sunday 6th September that the next few days’ weather was likely to be of favourable conditions, I decided to take on what I had promised — that of being to drive my mobility scooter to eight village churches within close proximity to where I lived in aid of Somerset Churches Trust Annual Ride+Stride. I alerted the local trust co-ordinator, Philip Skelhorn of Sutton Montis and he came forward with two colourful A3 posters which I fixed at both the front and back of the scooter together with two small Union Jacks attached to the rear seat.

At 10.30am the next morning I ‘sailed forth‘ full of expectations of whom I was likely to meet on my travels — first stop being my own church at Sparkford. This was closed due to the Covid-19 virus compulsory closure regulations following a service the previous Sunday. I left a ‘calling card’ which I had printed earlier and then proceeded on to Weston Bampfylde. Here again the church was closed — another ‘calling card’ tied to the church door handle. Back down the hill and the lower road to Sutton Mantis passing round the foothills of the legendary Cadbury Camp. The first point of interest I noticed was at the entrance to the village was an ancient, recently mondernised house with the name of Village End, to be met at the church by Philip who set me up for some photographs. Whilst going on through the village, more slowly than in a car, which I had done on many occasions in the past, I was amazed at the variety of well kept and quite fashionable houses. The only area I found that had pre-1940s social housing were situated within close proximity to what used to be known as Sutton Farm. I expect that these were houses built for the agricultural workers who were employed on the farm.

On my way through to West Camel I encountered three heavy builders’ lorries which meant a case of stop and give way. At West Camel church I found the door closed — another ‘calling card’. Then I was on my way to Queen Camel — again an other closed church — same again.

Back home for some lunch and to recharge the scooter battery.

Refreshed and recharged, I was on my way to Lovington. This is where the memories came back. On my way to the church door I passed a cremation stone; looking down as a matter of interest I saw it was associated

with a former teacher who taught pupils during the period of the late 1930s to 1944 when she left after her marriage to a naval officer — I was one of her pupils. The church door was open and in I went — that was when I started to think of the past. I had the privilege and pleasure of playing the organ for several years and what was most memorable was being able to play the organ for Mr and Mrs Walter Day’s three daughters for their respective weddings. Another memory was at that time the organ had to pumped for the bellows by hand and on a number of occasions I used place my eldest daughter, Brenda, on a child’s seat attached to the rear of my bicycle and take her with me to pump the organ. I left a ‘card’ stipulating the fact.

On to North Barrow — again the church was closed — but here was where I married my late wife, Ellen, on the 2nd September 1950 — another card.

Then to my final destination, South Barrow. This is the village where, with my late brother, I spent four and a half years in the foster care of two elderly spinsters, and during that period I was taught by an elderly disabled resident to play the piano, and eventually the organ.

Ted Marsh