Poppies for remembrance welcomed visitors who came to the church for private prayer in November

Recovery after lockdown: Our church building remains open for individual private prayer daily between 9am and 3.30pm, except on Mondays when the church remains closed. Our worship together on Sundays is now back to a full programme: for details see the schedule on the Services page.

Following the general deregulation of 19th July, we shall keep many of our safety measures in place, to give those attending worship confidence. Social distancing and the wearing of face-coverings will no longer be mandatory, but we will encourage those attending to consider retaining masks and spacing for the wellbeing of others.  We will continue to provide hand-sanitiser, both as you enter and as you leave. We will maintain our daily and weekly cleaning regime for the time being. We will continue to record names and contact details with explicit consent on Sundays and retain the QR-code for use with NHS App. We resumed gentle congregation singing from 25th July.

We have carried out all necessary checks to try to ensure everyone’s safety, but the clinically vulnerable may wish to come into church during the week when they can be safe on their own, or to our smaller ‘said’ services at 8am on Sundays at St Giles or at Plaxtol Church, or to Morning Prayer at 8.30am on Mondays to Thursdays in Plaxtol Church.

All Church buildings were closed in March 2020 when the lockdown began. After 5 May, churches remained locked but clergy and their households were allowed to use their church for daily prayer, and the streaming and filming of worship for social media. Services resumed from Sunday 12 July but were suspended again from 5 November to 6 December 2020 and again from 17 January to 13 March 2021.

We continue to be the Church: a people of prayer and action.

Shipbourne Church on Facebook

You can now follow St Giles Church Shipbourne on Facebook at

Harvest Festival

We celebrated this year’s harvest at our Harvest Festival Family Service on Sunday 26 September 2021. At the service we also formally welcomed and licensed our new Curate, Mark Packer. 

The church was decorated with flowers and vegetables in celebration of the harvest. The scent of hops rose from the hop bines which covered the pulpit  and stooks of corn hung from the end of the choir stalls, reflecting the cereals grown in the fields around the parish.

We are not asking for gifts of food this year, for infection control reasons, but instead we asked for financial donations for the Medway Food Bank.

You can make a donation to them by bank transfer:

account name: Medway Foodbank

sort code: 40-52-40

account number: 00029546

Reference: Shipbourne Church


Vacancy in See 

The Bishop of Rochester retired in July, and the process to find his successor is now underway with a wide consultation. You can submit your views by following the relevant survey at Diocese of Rochester | Help us find a new bishop (
Churchyard working party meets 
A working party gathered in the churchyard on Saturday 15 May 2021, resuming their work on the maintenance of the churchyard after a gap of some 18 months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We were able to sing Happy Birthday to the Rector and share his birthday cake with him, when the Rector and Donna  joined the group for refreshments. We made good progress in clearing the gullies around the church walls, removing debris from the steps to the crypt, cutting back trees and shrubs in the southwest corner of the churchyard and the Church Approach, removing ivy from the churchyard walls, re-instating the edges of the path where mud had encroached on the paths and clearing brambles, nettles and ash saplings from the tops of some of the graves. Many thanks to everyone who gave their time and worked hard to keep the churchyard looking cared for, and welcoming.

Foodbank News
We continue to support the Medway Foodbank. They are now able once more to accept gifts of suitable food. You can find details of the types of food which they accept and their monthly list of food items which are in short supply at

You can also support them by gifting money, with Gift Aid if you wish, through their giving platform at

Alternatively you can donate by bank transfer – their bank details are shown in the Harvest Festival item above.

Remembrance Sunday
A remembrance ceremony was held on Sunday 8 November 2020 at the Shipbourne war memorial in the churchyard of Shipbourne Church. Wreaths were laid at the war memorial and prayers were said to remember those who have died in two world wars and other conflicts.
Under the latest lockdown rules, we were unable to hold our usual Remembrance Day service in our church.


Facing the Financial Black Hole in the Church’s Finances

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic poses a significant challenge to the global and national economy, it also poses a significant challenge to the economy of the national and local church.

The church relies on different sources of income: collections from services, fees from weddings and funerals, funds raised on special occasions such as the Summer Fete and the Harvest Supper. These have all ground to a halt, and there is simply no knowing when ‘normality’ will return. We may be facing a long period of time when social distancing remains the rule, and this is bound to affect our normal streams of income.

The most straightforward way to avoid the worst of these effects is to commit to regular monthly giving by standing order. If you already do this, many thanks! Amounts given are known only to the PCC Treasurers. Please use the following co-ordinates:

Account:                  St Giles’ Church
Sort code:                   09-01-51
Number:                   74188307
Ref:                                    Surname

Account:                  Plaxtol PCC
Sort Code:                  40-52-40
Number:                  00020207
Ref:                                    Surname

Another way you can help is by fundraising in lieu of the Summer Fete. Adrienne is making face-masks and inviting donations. Peter C is turning his new-found cycling into a sponsored ride and he is hoping to use the ‘Just-giving’ App to invite donations. Please think if you could make and sell cakes or jams, or chutneys or…………………………………………………………………………… The possibilities are endless, but every little will help!

Ride and Stride

Lionel Stielow and Alicia Rowe went cycling around Kent to visit as many churches as they could on Saturday 11 September 2021, to raise money for St Giles Church Shipbourne and for the charity Friends of Kent Churches. If you were kind enough to sponsor Lionel or Alicia, please let them have the sponsorship money, if you have not already done so.

The Friends of Kent Churches Sponsored Ride and Stride takes place on the second Saturday in September each year with 740 churches participating.  It raises over £130,000 a year for Kent churches. Half the sponsorship money raised goes straight back to the church nominated by participants and half goes to the Friends.

Annual Parochial Church Meeting

Our Annual Parochial Church Meeting took place on Monday 26 April 2021. There were presentations on the life of the church over the period since the APCM in October 2020 and the Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2020 were presented for approval.

Giving to St Giles – the blue envelopes   

You can use the blue envelope scheme to give to Shipbourne church. Here’s how it works.

Pick up a box of blue envelopes at the back of the church. Put your cash donation in one of the envelopes and drop it in the plate at services. If you sign up for Gift Aid on your donations, it will save you having to write down your name and address details each time you make a donation.

Blue books of envelopes for the year June 2021 to May 2022 are now at the back of the church, just inside the main door.

If you are already signed on for the scheme, take the envelopes with your serial number from the box.

If you are not a member of the scheme but would like to support the work of the church in a tax efficient way, please take a set of envelopes marked ‘NEW GIVERS’ write your details on the list above the box of envelopes against the serial number of the set you have taken and if you wish, tick the Gift Aid box.

Good Friday: the Rector doing our traditional walk carrying the cross between the two churches of the benefice


Coronavirus – Shipbourne Farmers’ Market

We are now operating as a normal market in the church and the churchyard

We are also using the On-line ordering system as ‘Click and Collect’ (and pre-pay) so you can see what’s available and reserve your choice
 (and avoid some queuing !).  

You can find further details on the new arrangements at the market’s website:


Special opportunity: Oberammergau 2022

This renowned Passion Play was due to run this year, but the whole season has been postponed till 2022 because of the pandemic. A Meopham- and Eynesford-based group with whom Donna and I will be travelling now has up to seven places available for a week’s tour with McCabe Travel beginning Wed 31st August 2022. Please contact Jan Thompson if you are interested on [email protected] 01322-683062.

Harvest Supper 2019
The Barn of the Fairlawne Home Farm was the magnificent setting on Friday 11 October 2019 for the Benefice Harvest Supper, to celebrate the Harvest Festival. Long trestle tables were decorated with squashes and apples, and straw bales provided rustic seating. Guests arrived to the sounds of English folk tunes played on various accordions.  We all sung two harvest hymns, accompanied by John Young, Nick Ward provided a quiz and the Rector acted as our Master of Ceremonies.

Our thanks to the Fairlawne Estate for generously allowing us the the use of the barn; to James Sheldrick and his team for clearing and setting up the barn with tables and straw bales for us to sit on; to all those who provided lasagne, apple crumbles and salads, and apple juice; to the many people who set up on the day, helped with the serving and clearing up afterwards and helped with the bar. Particular thanks for the generosity of local businesses and individuals who donated prizes  for our raffle.
Special thanks also go to our organisers, Kate Symonds and Andy Doughty for such a wonderful evening.

St Giles Fair 2019

The St Giles Summer Fete took place in sweltering heat on Shipbourne Green, by kind permission of the Fairlawne Estate, on Bank Holiday Monday 26 August 2019. Mr James Swartz of Fairlawne welcomed visitors and opened the fete. The Tonbridge and Sevenoaks Training Band played a variety of great music throughout the afternoon. Sadly the dog show was cancelled this year because of the heat. Visitors enjoyed the various sideshows – they included face painting, lifting bricks, throwing sponges at people in the stocks – and there was a range of cakes, jams, vegetables and other produce as well as the popular book and bric a brac stalls.  The raffle was a success again. Burgers were on sale from the new  barbecue and drinks were available from the bar. Kathy and her team were offering tea and cakes in the Village Hall.

Warmest thanks to all the numerous people who helped with energy and enthusiasm in running the stalls, setting up or clearing away, or who contributed prizes or produce, and in particular to Lindsay Miles and Viv Packer who organised the fete and made it such a successful day.

A reception was held in the Village Hall on Friday 1 November to thank all those who helped with the fete.

Shipbourne 1919 – 2019: commemoration of the centenary of the signing of the treaty of Versailles over the weekend o f 29/30 June 2019

The window sills in St Giles Church were specially decorated by local organisations and gave an insight into the life of Shipbourne village in 1919.

A Commemorative Family Service took place on a sunny Sunday morning. White flowers of remembrance were left on the War Memorial to pay respects to the local young men who lost their lives in the Great War.

The service was followed by traditional games and picnics on the village Green, with adults and children taking part in egg and spoon races, a sack race, a 3 legged race and a tug of war.

Special thanks go to all the numerous people involved in organising the events over the weekend and making it a memorable and enjoyable occasion.

From War into Peace: Remembering 1919. A concert held in St Giles Church on Sunday 12 May 2019

Hal and Lara Cazalet, Georgia Ginsberg, Timothy End, Tom Humphreys and Emily Ward presented a concert of words and music on 12 May, to remember the ending of the First World War. The music included songs written by Butterworth and Denis Browne, who both died in the war, and songs written at the time by John Ireland, Ivor Gurney and Frank Bridge. Hal Cazalet led the audience in singing a medley of the songs which became popular marching songs in the First World War and then introduced some of the music Jerome Kern wrote for Broadway musicals at the time, to words written by P G Wodehouse. The readings included poetry, memoirs and letters from Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Vera Brittain and others. Hal Cazalet read a moving account by his great uncle, Victor Cazalet, of his experiences of life on the front line.

Proceeds from the concert go to St Giles Church Shipbourne Restoration Appeal and to the Royal British Legion.

Sir Edward Cazalet

On Sunday 10 February 2019 there was a Service of Thanksgiving at St Giles during which the choir sang a special anthem as a tribute to Sir Edward Cazalet. This was followed by a lunch to bid him farewell as our Patron of many years standing. Our new Patron, Francis Read, and the Rector thanked him in their speeches after lunch for all that he and his family had done for our village over so many years. Sir Edward in his reply recalled his family’s long association with, and affection for, Fairlawne, St Giles’ Church and the village.

Farmers’ Market

2020:- Winner of Kent Life Award for the ‘Best Food and Drink Initiative during Lockdown’
2020:- featured in the Government’s ‘Great Inspirations’ during Lockdown
2020:- Farm Retail Association ‘Best Farmers Market’

Shipbourne Farmers’ Market was the winner of the Best Farmers’ Market category at the 2018 Kent Food and Drinks Awards. The Farmers’ Market has also reached the finals in the Best Farmers’ Market category in the Farm Retail Association Awards 2019.

The Roux’s return
Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr  returned to Shipbourne on Tuesday 5 June 2018 for the Roux Two dinner,  five years after their last dinner here in Shipbourne,  this time to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Shipbourne Farmers’ Market. This black tie event started with a champagne reception in the Church Room of the Chaser Inn, followed by dinner in a marquee in the garden.

Profits made from the Roux Two Dinner were split between the following good causes:

  •   St Giles Church, Shipbourne: the restoration of the wall paintings in the church
  •   The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute (R.A.B.I.), supporting farmers in England and Wales who are struggling financially
  •   Shipbourne Farmers’ Market Click and Collect project
  •   Nourish Community Foodbank
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