Silent Sunday…… Off To Church

It is some years since I started the occasional Sunday ‘Off to Church’  postings.  When I started I made the point that it was not as a result of any religious commitment  nor would I make any religious comment.

Churches, in the widest concept, includes Chapels, Abbey’s , Cathedrals, Places of Worship of any Faith….. have and are a part of our communities.  All provide a light on our Historical Heritage.  Building, culture and faith all in one location.  These religious building, probably more than any other construction, provide a direct link back to our earliest recorded history, buildings that today are still used as they were many many centuries ago.

One such Church we visited many years ago, is the very tiny Church of Saint Boniface.


The Church is located on the Isle of Wight in the village of Bonchurch.  There has been a settlement here almost since time began.  Stone Age settlements and Roman occupation have been recorded.   The Domes Day Book records the name of Bonercerce.   It is in the 8th century that Saint Boniface arrives on the island. Saint Boniface built a strong following in the area and in the 9th century a wooden church was built.  It is believed to be an older site of worship.  This first church was dedicated to Boniface.

It is on this same site that  in the 11th century a small stone church was built.

That church still exists and is used today….  a direct and continuous historical ink.

Over the centuries there have been some modifications.  A Bell Cote with Bell were added in the 16th century.  Then in the 19th century a Porch Doorway was added.

What hasn’t changed is  that services and weddings can be held by candle light as no electricity has been added.  Yes, the Church is still in use today.


The Church is also referred to in Bonchurch as ” Old Saint Boniface Church”. That definition is important.  As the population and importance of Bonchurch grew and NEW Saint Boniface Church was built and opened in 1848.  There followed some talk of demolishing the Old Saint Boniface, thankfully common sense prevailed.  Special occasional services, including weddings, continue the link between Saint Boniface’s and the community.


To stand in this nave and look around, you stand in history.  You stand in the shadows of so many that have come before you, to stand in this very spot.  It may well be small by comparison to say a Cathedral,  but  it is equally as inspiring and full of a special aura.


If you ever visit the Isle of Wight, and amongst all the island treasures and beauty spots, do find time to head to Bonchurch.  Find the narrow  wooded lane that leads down the hillside and discover this little gem of history.

Maybe, no matter if you are religious or not,  spare some time to evaluate the times we currently live in today…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

31st May

(C) David Oakes 2020




A Grand Location for Grand day out

Lea Rhododendron Gardens

Kedleston Hall and Park, Derbyshire

When all the current lockdown restrictions are over we can all plan great days out once again.   One such location that we have made many visits to is Kedleston Hall.

Kedleston has been in the hands of the Curzon Family since 1297.  The Hall you see today is in the Palladian style of Architecture and is what I would call ‘double fronted’ as the rear of the Hall is as elegant as the front with sweeping entrance steps. But from the front it is the twin wings that gives Kedleston is imposing stature.

Lea Rhododendron Gardens

Lea Rhododendron Gardens

Tucked away behind the Hall is the tiny Church of All Saints.  Now a redundant Anglican church, it is the resting place of various Curzon Family tombs.

Lea Rhododendron Gardens

The Gardens are quite simple but the wider Park land is rather grand and expansive., possibly reflecting the tradition of Deer Park and Pleasure grounds as well as forming part of a wider agricultural estate. This Parkland is an ideal location for a walk, short or a more extensive leg stretch.  Great in any season, my favourite has to be the autumn, it is when the woods on the slop behind the Hall are at there best…




And as the sun goes down you can witness the Hall as it goes to sleep for the day…


So add Kedleston on that ‘to do’ list for when we can travel more freely…you will not be dissapointed.  In the meantime….

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other


16th May

(C) David Oakes 2020

Silent Sunday….. Off to Church


Newlands Church and School Room, Cumbria

I couldn’t resist re-posting this church.

Possibly my favourite of the ‘little’ churches I have discovered on my travels is this little gem hidden in the Newlands Valley (near Keswick) in Cumbria. It is located at the aptly named hamlet of Little Town. Exact age is not known but mention is made on old maps of a chapel at this spot on maps from the 1500.
Surrounded by the Lakeland Hills of North West Cumbria it is a lonely yet idyllic location and a destination highlight for many walkers to the area.
There have been many restorations undertaken over the centuries but perhaps the most significant is the building to the left. This was built in 1840 by local donations and was until 1967 the village School Room. Today the room is a place for quiet contemplation.


It is great to see these tiny village churches still being cared for and still very much in use today.  Newlands is obviously loved.

Little Town is always a tranquil place…. a tranquillity we all need in these trouble times.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

3rd May

(C) David Oakes 2020


Silent Sunday……. So off to Church


Saint Aldhelm’s Chapel, Dorset

There is a thumb of land, known as St. Albans Head*, that protrudes into the English Chanel. One side, to the west, overlooks Kimmeridge Bay and the Jurassic coast line.  To the East it overlooks Swanage Bay.  The views are expansive giving, on good days, a clear view of shipping along the English Chanel….so no surprise that there is still  a Coast Guard Lookout Post, its past importance underscored by a line of white Coastguard Cottages.

But you will also find a Square Stone Building, this is Saint Aldhelm’s Chapel. Its history is mixed and parts unclear.  At times there were doubt that it was actually constructed as a Chapel.  Part of that doubt is the unusual square shape, a square shape that was laid out to a-line the corners of the building  with the cardinal points of the compass.

The Chapel is also located within a very earl circular groundwork indicating very early use of the site, most likely Christian.  There are records of the Chapel from 1200’s.  It is also suggested that the building was constructed as a Watch Tower for Corfe Castle which itself is located someway from the coast but of strategic importance. There is  also a records of payments during King Henry III reign for clergy at the Chapel…so confusing.


Whatever the full history and purpose of the building, Saint Aldhelm’s Chapel has been one of abandonment,  disrepair, repair and reconstruction….and survival.

In 1873 major repairs were made and in 1874 the Chapel was reopened.  Services were recorded as having been held on Sundays throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.  It was though not until 1965 that ownership was formerly past to Worth Matravers Parochial Church Council. Further repairs were made and the building maintained.  I also understand the Sunday Services continued. A very special service was held in June 2005.  It was a service to celebrate 1300th anniversary of the consecration of Saint Aldhelm as Bishop of Sherborne.  To mark the event a new alter table, made from local stone, was installed and consecrated by The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

 The interior is sparse but that adds to its charecter, stone throughout it is cold even on a very hot day (as on the day we visited). Sparse it may be but its construction with vaulted ceiling is rather grand and  would not be out of place in a Cathedral or Castle.

The Chapel is a Grade 1 listed building and the earthworks that surround it are a Scheduled Monument.

Now if you wish to visit and you are in this part of Dorset, which I  would recommend, I also need to warn you to be prepared for a long walk.  A Carpark just outside Worth Matravers is provide, then its off you go along a long straight walk to the edge of the cliffs…. take some refreshments with you.


The Chapel is intriguing and an experience to enjoy and you have the bonus of great sea views. The importance for a seafaring nation of an important ‘watch tower’  and still a Coat Guard lookout point is very apparent.


You will also discover this more modern addition to the headland.  During WWII the area was an important research base in the development of Radar. A stylish tribute to the important life saving work.

* St. Albans Head is the modern corruption of St. Aldhelms.  It should also be mentioned that the Chapel did serve as a Sea Marker for sailors approaching land 

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

19th April

(C) David Oakes 2020







Silent Sunday….. Off to Church – A Historical Reflection


Saint Lawrence….The Parish Church of Eyam, Derbyshire

With Coronavirus creating concern across the world.  With self Isolation and restrictions on movements and contact being advised, and in some location enforced, I thought I would reflect on actions taken many centuries ago here in the small Derbyshire Village of Eyam.

It is not a new post,  one from October 2016…. The first part is about this church the second is about the Plague and how this village coped…. poignant and maybe an appropriate reflection of March 2020.

Please click my link to see more:-

8th March

(C) David Oakes 2010