STOP PRESS: For details of church tours with Clive Fewins in 2012 please see the News section.
English parish churches have been one of my passions for 40 years and I have written two books on the subject (– see the BOOKS section). I take both private and minibus tours round parish churches, mainly in Oxfordshire, in the spring and summer months. More information about current tours is available in the Church Tours and News sections.
Because the parish church is generally the oldest building in a community that is regularly open to the general public it is frequently an excellent source of reference for people wishing to find out more about that place. Churches tell us about our history, about our way of life, about our culture – in fact why we are like we are in the UK. Church exploring encompasses the best bits of many other hobbies. It gets you out and about, it involves a certain amount of exercise, it stimulates the mind, and it encourages you to visit towns and villages where you would probably not normally go.
I am keen to pass on my enthusiasm for parish churches and to explain how people can expand their interest in church exploring into a well–rounded hobby that combines interest in UK travel, architecture, local history, and elements of art history such as stained glass, wallpaintings, and church monuments.
Oxfordshire, and in particular the villages and countryside immediately round the city of Oxford, is particularly rich historic churches of all periods. However some of my 2009 tours will extend into Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. Both counties are well–stocked with fine historic churches. For details, again please see the News section.
Church crawls of this sort are proving very attractive to the newly–retired, but also seem to appeal to people of all ages.
Here are the comments of a few of the 2008 participants:
“I thought the one–day tour of three of the North Oxfordshire Ironstone Churches and St Mary’s, Warwick in September 2008 was fascinating. It was a packed programme as usual, but we got round them all. The choice was inspired because the churches went together very well as a group.
Clive has that winning formula of combining small country churches and a town one. He also usually manages to get a visiting speaker, a ‘mystery guest’ or a professional guide to add to the mix of the day. On this occasion the guide at Warwick was particularly impressive.
Clive somehow manages to take account of all the needs of his clientele – ages vary enormously – and inevitably finds us somewhere nice for lunch. The only complaint is that there’s never time for tea!”
~ Dr Angela Bhattacharya, Amersham
“Clive’s church crawls are always well thought out and immaculately planned, with a wealth of interesting information and a good balance of churches. Clive is also an expert in organising reliable transport and very acceptable food and comfort stops – always a happy day!”
~ Carole Fryer, Aylesbury
“Clive’s tours move at quite a pace and the days go very fast. Last year at the end of three days the twelve of us were all exhausted, but happy and stimulated! Clive tries to concentrate on a different side of the county every day and his choice of churches in very varied. We usually cover four churches a day. This is about right for most of us, not least because Clive’s luncheon spots are well chosen and often places to linger in! I like the ‘holiday spirit’ on these tours. Everyone comes prepared to enjoy themselves – and they do!”
~ Peggy Howarth, Oxford
“As a Pevsner fan for very many years it was so refreshing to come across someone like Clive who could put some flesh on the (admittedly pretty complete) skeletons of our local church buildings. After one ‘crawl’ I was hooked and have passed on my discovery to fellow church explorers. Clive’s jaunts are full of recondite information – do you know where to look for consecration crosses? – as well as solid factual expertise all presented with boundless enthusiasm and an absence of didacticism that helps you feel you are finding things out for yourself. The fellow enthusiasts in our small groups make them jolly social occasions too. Here’s to the next time!”
~ Tony Twigger, Abingdon
“I have been on two of Clive’s three–day church crawls and I am looking forward to the next.
Clive is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his subject and we always visit many different types of churches. We have a great time together with lots of laughs: it is a lighthearted but nevertheless thorough approach to church exploring.”
~ Pat Whitehouse, Oxford