We launch a major appeal to raise funds for critical restoration work
A new appeal for funds was launched on 1 March 2023. Chairman of the appeal, Sir Paul Britton, writes
Further details of the work we need to do, and how to donate, are on the restoration appeal pages at http://shipbourne.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=739&action=edit
Churchyard working party
A working party met in the churchyard on a soggy Saturday 21 October. Despite the weather, we made good progress and cleared vegetation from the base of the church walls, removed debris from the rainwater gullies, cleared ivy and unwanted shrubs from graves, and tidied up the flower bed beside the church path. We also cleared nettles and brambles from the southwest corner of the churchyard, in preparation for clearing the clay soil stacked up in that area, a job which we are planning to complete next summer. The aim is to keep our churchyard looking welcoming to the many visitors who come here.
The morning’s work finished with hot drinks in the church, as well as home made cake.
Many thanks to all who joined the work party.
Harvest Supper 2023
The Barn of the Fairlawne Home Farm was the magnificent setting on Friday 13 October 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 by the Abbey Capers. We all sung two harvest hymns. 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 shepherd’s pies, apple crumbles and salads; to the local business and individuals who so generously donated the raffle prizes, and to Lindsay Miles for running the raffle on the night (over £500 raised!); to Shipbourne Farmers Market and Plaxtol Village Stores for selling the tickets – and to the latter for providing the wines and other bar essentials, all on a sale or return basis; to the many people who set up on the day, helped with the serving and clearing up afterwards and helped with the bar.
And a thank you, of course, to all of those who bought tickets and came along to make it such a special evening. Well over £1,800 was raised for the Benefice.
Special thanks also go to our organisers, Viv Packer and Andy Doughty, for such a wonderful evening.
Harvest Festival 2023
We celebrated this year’s harvest at the Family Service at 9.30am on Sunday 24 September. The church was decorated for the occasion: hops were draped over the pulpit, flower arrangements were on all the window sills and by the altar, and stooks of corn hung from the end of the choir stalls, reflecting the cereals grown in the fields around the parish. Many thanks to the members of the Flower Guild who decorated the church so imaginatively and also to all those who generously gave food to be donated to local food banks.
Ride and Stride
Lionel Stielow went cycling around Kent to visit as many churches as he could on Saturday 9 September 2023, to raise money for St Giles Church Shipbourne and for the charity Friends of Kent Churches.
Lionel raised over £700 for St Giles’ Church, Shipbourne. Thank you to everyone who generously sponsored Lionel and well done to super-Lionel for his amazing efforts on a very hot day in September!
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 and is distributed as grants to churches in Kent as contributions to their maintenance and restoration work.
St Giles Summer Fair 2023
The St Giles Summer Fair took place on Shipbourne Green, by kind permission of the Fairlawne Estate, on Bank Holiday Monday, 28 August 2023.
The Tonbridge and Sevenoaks Training Band played a variety of great music throughout the afternoon. The fun dog show was well attended. There were sideshows – brick lifting, face painting, a spell in the stocks and much more. There were burgers and sausages from the barbecue and tea and cakes in the Village Hall. The weather was perfect on the day and much fun was had by everyone. The fete made a record surplus of over £5,500 which will go to church funds.
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, Viv Packer and Peter Leach who organised the fete and made it such a successful day.
An evening with Michel Roux Jr
On the evening of Tuesday 16 May 2023, we welcomed Michel Roux Jr and his Gavroche team back to his childhood home for a fund raising dinner, cabaret and auction, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Shipbourne Farmers’ Market.
The event took place in the garden of the Chaser Inn and the delicious menu was created using local produce from the Farmers’ Market stallholders, accompanied by wines from a selection of local vineyards. Hal and Lara Cazalet performed a captivating cabaret show and the auction and raffle alone raised over £6,000 thanks to the generosity of the 168 guests who were lucky enough to secure tickets to the event.
All profits from the evening will be split between the St Giles’ Church Restoration Appeal and two agricultural charities, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Farming Community Network.
It was a very special and memorable night for Shipbourne!
Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III
On the day of the Coronation, our bell ringers met to Ring for the King as the royal procession was on its way to Westminster Abbey. Our powerful peal of six bells rang out for half an hour, celebrating this historic occasion.
At midday on Sunday 7 May, some 200 people watched as Mr James Swartz planted three English Oaks on the Green, on behalf of the Fairlawne Estate, to mark the Coronation of King Charles. The tree planting ceremony was followed by a reception in the Village Hall, when various memorabilia of previous coronations were on display. Our warm thanks are due to the Fairlawne Estate for arranging the tree planting and hosting the reception.
On Sunday afternoon, families gathered on the Green to enjoy their picnics and games, to mark the Coronation weekend.
The Rector’s Sabbatical
The Rector was on sabbatical leave from 19 June to Monday 25 September 2023. Before he started his sabbatical, he wrote about his plans:
“Six days shalt thou labour…
The Ten Commandments (Exodus ch. 20) name the sabbath day as a day of rest – the seventh ‘day’ on which God rested from his work of creation. Accordingly, we have seven days in a week. The Jewish community keep Saturday as their sabbath; for Christians it has become Sunday to align with the day of Resurrection. Using the same root word, a ‘Sabbatical’ is a period of rest that is granted in some professions, sometime as often as every seven years.
Beginning in a couple of weeks’ time, I have been granted a sabbatical by the bishop, after 31 years in full-time ministry, and I will be strictly ‘off-duty’ for 3 months. During this time, I shall be walking St Cuthbert’s Way from Melrose in the Scottish borders to Lindisfarne off the Northumberland coast. I also have a short trip to Tallinn, Estonia and a retreat/holiday with a community that specializes in the care of clergy near Exeter, in Devon. The main focus, however, will be rest, and a chance to refresh my connection with God in prayer without the distractions of parish administration and ministry.”
Peter Hayler, Rector.
Annual Parochial Church Meeting
Our Annual Parochial Church Meeting took place on Tuesday 25 April 2023. There were presentations on the life of the church over the period since the APCM in May 2022 and the Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2022 were presented for approval. Further details are on the Administration page.
Churchyard working party meets
- Cut back brambles, nettles and tree ivy in the overgrown south west corner of the churchyard
- tidied up the flower bed beside the path
- cut back the grass which had advanced onto the path to the lychgate at the West end of the churchyard
- cut the grass around the War Memorial and along the path to the porch
- cleaned the gullies around the church and cut back the vegetation growing against the walls of the church.
Heritage Open Day at St Giles Shipbourne
Mark Packer was ordained to the priesthood at Rochester Cathedral on 3 September 2022. It was a joyful occasion and several members of the congregation attended the service of ordination.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in Shipbourne
Our celebrations began with a special Farmers’ Market on Thursday 2 June 2022. The bells were rung to start the service, the Tonbridge Community Choir sang songs in the sunshine and Debra’s special Jubilee cake was cut and shared out.
Celebrations took place later on Shipbourne Cricket Ground. There were traditional games like the tug of war to entertain the picnic goers, refreshments were available and the day finished with Hamish the piper playing at the lighting of the spectacular Platinum Jubilee beacon.
Celebrations continued on Friday with the Queen’s posy competition in the church. There were 51 posies on display and the church was a blaze of colour. The bells rang at 11.30am to coincide with the Service of Thanksgiving taking place at St Paul’s Cathedral.
On Sunday 5 June there was a Benefice “Open Air Service” on Shipbourne Green, when a red oak tree was planted on the Green to commemorate the Jubilee. This was followed by refreshments and canapés, kindly hosted by the Fairlawne Estate.
Covid – 19: our infection control measures
Following the end of the last period of lockdown, we have kept our infection control restrictions under regular review and have gradually reduced the safety measures we had adopted. There is now no requirement to wear a face mask during services, but you may do so if you wish.
As a safety measure we have offered communion at the chancel steps, with the bread being dipped in the wine, rather than using a shared chalice. We are now considering offering the alternative of taking the wine from a shared chalice but those taking communion will be able to take the bread dipped in wine, if they prefer. Communion will be taken once more at the communion rail but for the present the choir will not sing while the congregation is receiving communion.
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 Plaxtol Church or to morning prayer at Plaxtol Church at 8.30am on weekdays.
Our church is open for individual private prayer daily, except on Mondays, between 9am and 3.30pm
We continue to be the Church: a people of prayer and action.
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. Since then we have gradually relaxed the safety control measures we had in place.
Shipbourne Church on Facebook
You can now follow St Giles Church Shipbourne on Facebook at
We continue to support the Medway Food Bank. 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 https://medway.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-food/
You can also support them by gifting money, with Gift Aid if you wish, through their giving platform at
Alternatively 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
Facing the Financial Black Hole in the Church’s Finances
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge to the global and national economy, it also posed 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 all ground to a halt during periods of lockdown.
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
Account: Plaxtol PCC
Sort Code: 40-52-40
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 2022 to May 2023 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 2021: the Rector doing our traditional walk carrying the cross between the two churches of the benefice
Coronavirus – Shipbourne Farmers’ Market
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.
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