Northamptonshire Historic Churches Trust Ride+Stride

Saturday 10 September 2016

It decided to rain on the day. Mostly drizzle, but an umbrella was still needed. But were we downhearted? No, we were not. We’d committed to doing this walk, and stalwarts that we are, we were going to enjoy it! Five of us were ‘striding’ this year – Mary who planned the route, Roger, Elaine, Ros and Dorrie. We signed in at St Matthew’s at 10.00am and then it was a quick nip across the Kettering Road to Kingsley Park Methodist Church – our ‘friends across the road’. They provided us with official day-glo stickers while we waited for Ros to catch up as she’d had to go back to her car to get her walking pole…

Off we set along Kingsley Park Terrace (‘The Front’). There’s an abundance of churches on our way into town, and next stop was St Michael’s. They share their building with the Romanian Orthodox community and it was fascinating to see their art around the walls of the church and the CofE altar in close proximity with their own shrine (there must be a proper name for this) – anyway, see the photo. One of the most enjoyable parts of doing this walk is discovering interesting things about our neighbours.

Round the corner and across the road again, next was Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and then down the road to Queensgrove Methodist Church. Here, as usual, we had our coffee stop. Well, coffee and ginger cake, and a sit down. So you see, this walk we do every year is not arduous – it’s not a race to get as many churches ticked off in the fastest time, it’s a social occasion for us!

Suitably refreshed, on we walked across the Mounts to Holy Sepulchre; Elaine hadn’t been inside before, so it was a revelation. It’s one of only four round churches remaining in the UK, founded around 1100 AD. Last year we were intrigued by the strips of sticky tape on the floor with blobs drawn on – we were told it was to indicate where the bell ringers stand, in a circle, as they were going to have a new platform installed above. Well, it’s all in place now.

Now for the bit of the route where we go off into the unknown… in all the years we’ve been doing this walk, Mary has never bothered to look at a map to see the best way to get to Castle Hill URC, and we’ve never done it the same way twice, and this year was no exception! This time we really thought we’d lost it, but we’d come around the back to it. Next year we really must remember to bring a map.

While we were standing there chatting I thought I’d check their booklet listing which churches were open, to see if St Peter’s in Marefair was open this year, after our experience last year (when we got to the open church door we were told to ‘Shush’ as there was a service going on, and that there was no-one to sign our sheet. Very welcoming! St Peter’s was actually in the 2015 booklet). It wasn’t in this year’s booklet, but as I’d been telling the lady on the desk why I was looking, she was able to tell me that she’d had walkers in who’d come from there, so we decided to give it a go. As we warily went in we received a cheery “Welcome!” from the very nice man on the door; he explained that he was there on behalf of the Friends of Northampton Castle – their Heritage Project Trail takes in St Peter’s – and was more than happy to sign our form. He gave us a potted history of the church too, good man!

So then it was up Gold Street to All Saints’, and standing alongside it a row of Classic buses that give free rides around the Heritage Weekend sites. They didn’t look as if they were doing much trade, due to the weather; in fact, we only saw one bus doing the rounds. Ros left us here to get a bus back to St Matthew’s.

The rest of us made our way to St Giles’ where, as usual, we stopped for a welcome lunch break. We had all brought a packed lunch and enjoyed their hospitality, and it was good to have an extended sit down. Roger’s feet had had enough though and he left us here to get his bus home, while our depleted band now walked on to Victoria Road Congregational Church, which was another that Elaine had never visited before, so she was having a real voyage of discovery.

From here it’s quite a long walk along Billing Road to Christchurch, where we saw Mary’s husband Bryan who tried to entice us into his car… We girls were having none of that!

On to the church in the park, St Peter and Paul, Abington, then round the corner to Park Avenue Methodist Church, where we met an old friend from St Matthew’s, Debby De Haes; she said Chris was doing a cycle tour – the first one we’d heard who was; people who would normally go by bike had been put off by the weather and were walking instead.

So, a bit weary now, we arrived back at ‘base camp’ at around 3 o’clock – it’s always good to get back to St Matthew’s and have a sit down and a cuppa (and more cake), and hear about how they’d got on there. Christine has written a separate report about their day. We walkers had had a lovely day; plenty of socialising, not just in the various churches, but also with other walkers sporting the same day-glo stickers stopping and chatting too. Like brothers-in-arms.

Between us walkers and Christine and her team, our sponsorship will have raised in the region of £365 – you can still add to that if you feel inclined, there’s still time! Half of the money comes to St Matthew’s and half to the Historic Churches Trust who organize the event. St Matthew’s received a very substantial amount from the Trust a few years ago for our major building works, so it’s a good cause to support.

Ride+Stride is always on the second Saturday in September; maybe you’ll join us next year?

Please find a selection of photos below.



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Find information about the Parish Centre and the facilities that are available for hire.



St Matthew's Ladies Group



Read about St Matthew's Ladies Group.






Christian Aid Week 2016


Read about the fundraising the took place in Christian Aid Week 2016.

  Summer Fete 2016  
  Read about the Summer Fete held on the 11 June 2016.

A Marathon effort for church funds


Read about our Parish Administrator, Kate Arch's, fundraising efforts



Historic Churches Trust Ride+Stride



Read about St Matthew's involvement with Ride+Stride.



Christmas Fayre



Read about this year's Christmas Fayre.



Carol Singing in the Community



Read the latest news article report about Carol Singing in the Community


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