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Northamptonshire Historic Churches Trust Ride+Stride

Saturday 14 September 2019

Saturday 14 September was the day of the annual sponsored Ride+Stride, which raises money for the Historic Churches Trust, all over the country. Our church received the very substantial amount of £10,000 from the Trust a few years ago for our major building works, so it’s a good cause to support. Of the money we raise for the Trust, half comes back to St Matthew’s.

This year it coincided with ‘Church Cleaning Day’ in readiness for our patronal festival, so we were a bijou band of just three walkers – Mary, Roger, and Dorrie; Christine and Barbara were on duty at base camp to sign in the Ride+Striders who visited St Matthew’s. Mary set the route to follow to maximise on the number of churches possible to visit without it becoming a marathon… For the walkers it’s always more of a Ride+Stroll, as we look upon it more as a sociable gentle amble and chat… The ‘Ride’ bit is cyclists who take part, though we didn’t see a single one this year.

Thankfully, it was a sunny morning and the forecast was to stay that way. At 10.00am we assembled, signed in at St Matthew’s and collected our day-glo badges, and then off we set for Kingsley Park Methodist Church. The walkers from KPM had managed to sign in at St Matthew’s before we’d even left, and although they followed a different route we did see them again at odd times during the day. Over at KPM we were warmly greeted by the two ladies waiting for us.

There are an abundance of churches on our way into town, so it’s easy to start ticking them off – first was St Michael’s, who share their building with the Romanian Orthodox community. If you haven’t been in and seen their amazing iconostasis, please do – it’s well worth a visit!

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church was unfortunately not open again this year; however, it meant we got to our next church that bit quicker – Queensgrove Methodist Church, where we have our usual coffee and bikkie stop. Fed and watered, on we walked across the Mounts to Holy Sepulchre, one of only four round churches remaining in the UK, founded around 1100 AD. Here there was a lady sweeping the porch at our approach… Doing this walk does give you a chance to pop into churches you might not normally have cause to go into, thus giving you a taster and inspiring you to go back another day to explore more at your leisure.

This next bit of the route is where we normally go off into the unknown… we’d never managed to find the church the same way twice – Castle Hill URC. But this year we decided to take a completely different route and it was much easier to find, though Roger swore it actually took longer…

At St Peter’s in Marefair it was serve-yourself this year; we had to sign ourselves in as there was no-one there to do it. Next stop was All Saints’ with, as usual, the row of Classic buses that give free rides around the Heritage Weekend sites waiting in George Row. Here we saw the KPM walkers having their lunch break; ours beckoned next, at St Giles’. Aaaaargh – St Giles’ wasn’t open! Do we have our sarnies on a bench in the churchyard, in the sun? No, we decided the tables at Victoria Road would be better.

Roger left us at St Giles’ however, his knees had had enough, so Mary and Dorrie carried on to Victoria Road Congregational Church where we enjoyed our lunch break and rested our legs.

It’s our longest section of just walking now, along Billing Road and up to Christchurch. As last year, Andrew Barford entertained on the organ!

On through Abington Park to St Peter and Paul, Abington, where we met old friends. We tend to find the same people acting as recorders year after year too. Park Avenue Methodist Church was open this year, so that was our next stop and gave us a welcome break, as that last leg home is when you start to feel weary… It’s always good to get back to St Matthew’s though and have a sit down. We arrived back at 2.25pm. The stoic Christine and Barbara were still on duty. The church is open to visitors on Saturday afternoons anyway, and with Ride+Stride as well as the Heritage Weekend it had been buzzing with visitors.

So how much did Roger, Mary, Dorrie, Christine and Barbara together raise? At the time of writing, over £400, so that’s £200+ that will be coming back to St Matthew’s. Many thanks to all of you who sponsored us! Mary will be announcing the final amount in the pewsheet.

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




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