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

Our worship together on Sundays is now back to a full programme: details are set out on the Services  page. 

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. Hand sanitiser is available in the porch for you to use, as you enter or leave the church. 

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. 

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. Since then we have gradually relaxed the safety control measures we had in place.


The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in Shipbourne

Our celebrations began with a special Farmers’ Market on Thursday 2 June. 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. 

Annual Parochial Church Meeting

Our Annual Parochial Church Meeting took place on Monday 9 May 2022. There were presentations on the life of the church over the period since the APCM in April 2021 and the Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2021 were presented for approval. Further details are on the Administration page 

Churchyard working party meets 

A working party gathered in the churchyard on Saturday 23 April 2022. 
  • tidied up the Church Approach, including prising ivy off the walls
  • cut back huge amounts of ivy which was hanging over the walls on the East side of the churchyard
  • pruned roses
  • cut back the brambles etc on the graves outside the West end of the church
  • cleared the sticks, moss and other debris off the steps down to the crypt
  • made further progress in cutting back the rampant vegetation in the south east corner of the churchyard
  • cleaned the gullies around the church and the vestry steps.
Many thanks to everyone who gave their time and worked hard to keep the churchyard looking cared for, and welcoming, for the many visitors to the churchyard.


Shipbourne Church on Facebook

You can now follow St Giles Church Shipbourne on Facebook at

Remembrance Sunday 2021
A Remembrance ceremony was held on Sunday 14 November 2021 at the Shipbourne war memorial in the churchyard of Shipbourne Church. The names of those who died in two World Wars and other conflicts were read out, the last post was sounded, prayers were said to remember those who died and wreaths were laid at the war memorial.
The ceremony was followed by a Remembrance Day service in our church.
Harvest Supper 2021
The Barn of the Fairlawne Home Farm was the magnificent setting on Friday 8 October 2021 for the Benefice Harvest Supper, to celebrate the Harvest Festival. Long trestle tables were decorated with dahlias and apples, and straw bales provided rustic seating. Guests arrived to the sounds of English folk tunes, played by the Wealden Ramblers.  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 and cheese and biscuits; 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, Viv Packer and Andy Doughty for such a wonderful evening.
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

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 and is distributed as grants to churches in Kent as contributions to their maintenance and restoration work.

Vacancy in See 
James Langstaff retired as Bishop of Rochester in July 2021. His successor will be the Right Rev Jonathan Gibbs. Bishop Jonathan’s installation as Bishop of Rochester will take place at 2pm on Saturday 24 September 2022.

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.

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 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
Number:                   74188307
Ref:                                    Surname

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


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

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:


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.

The Fair did not take place in 2020 or 2021, because of the Covid pandemic, but we are planning to hold  hold the Fair again this year, on Bank Holiday Monday, 29 August 2022.


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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