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Velo Quest - Church Quest

NV quest

Welcome to this weeks Newbury Velo Quest

The ride you can share with club mates here on Facebook and still comply with CV-19 precautions.

This week we look at an institution that people used to bind society together before the advent of Facebook. A thousand years ago, very small communities invested enormous amounts of their resources to produce stunning churches that are still with us today. The church would have been the hub for all activity in a community.

We are going to take you on rides of 20, 33 and 50 miles to see some of the historical and modern churches of our area. We'll point out some interesting things to see, but do ask you to remember that people's loved ones are buried in the church yards, so please take care where you step.

All rides start at St John's church in Newbury. In 1943 a German bomb destroyed the original church, so the current neo-Romanesque one was re-built in the 1950's. It is constructed from 750,000 hand made red Berkshire bricks and is world famous as a fine example of what can be achieved with brickwork.

At St Andrew's church in Boxford you can walk around to the north wall where you will see a narrow arched wooden window. This is saxon and 1,000 years old. It is the oldest working wooden window in the UK! If you look at the tower, note that in 1657 it fell down and took 30 years to be re-built. The stones fell into a neighbours garden ( a Quaker ), who claimed that they must be a gift from God and therefore refused to give then back.

St Gregory's church in Welford is worth noting for its striking 13th century round tower and octagonal spire. The round tower is one of only two in Berkshire ( the other is in Great Shefford ). Incidentally, we are lucky to have these magnificent ancient churches on our doorstep due to us being on the old roman road, Ermin Way. A link to last weeks Quest.

St Mary's in Aldworth is a 13th century church which has a 1,000 yew tree in the graveyard. It has been struck by lightning and blown over by gales, but still lives on.

St Mark's in Englefield is set in the beautiful estate deer park. This is where Pippa Middleton got married as well as being the estate church for the influential Englefield, Paulet and Benyon families for the last 1,200 years.

St Mary's church in Shaw is a more modern Victorian church in the Norman Revival style with some Italian influences in it's tower. As you look at the church, try to imagine the ancient Saxon church tower that used to stand there. Then try to imagine what it was like when the Victorian's blew it up with gun powder to make room for the current church.

I hope you enjoy this week Quest and would love to see your photos back on this page. All members posting photos will be entered into the free Newbury Velo water bottle prize. Anyone doing the Quest on a vicars dog collar or nuns habit will automatically win a bottle. Anyone doing it in a Full Bishops regalia will win an amazing mystery prize!

19 mile with thanks to Andy Hockedy:

33 mile:

52 mile with thanks to Rachael Elliot: