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
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
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?