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St Mary the Virgin Church

Contact the Church

For all Sunday, Baptism, Wedding, and Funeral Services, Graveyard enquiries, and other general enquiries, please contact our Vicar, The Rev'd Alan Gates:-
pearleygates@outlook.com or by telephone 01491 681808

For enquiries relating to the Parochial Church Council, Sunday Services, availability of the Church, and the Church fabric, please contact one of Ipsden's Churchwardens:-

Clare Davis -
or by telephone 01491 680218

David Kelley -
or by telephone 01491 680906 / 07762 566195

For enquiries relating to the Church finances, please contact our Hon Treasurer:-

Elaine Allen -
or by telephone 01491 834867

The Langtree Ministry

St Mary's Church Ipsden is part of the Langtree Team Ministry.
For further information on this excellent team, please click on the link.


The Church is open every day.

For information on forthcoming services, please see below.

Normal Service times are otherwise:-

1st Sunday in the month 9.30 am Parish Communion

2nd Sunday in the month 9.30 am Family Service

3rd Sunday in the month 9.30 am Parish Communion

4th Sunday in the month 9.30 am Morning Service

5th Sunday in the month (when occurring) a joint service at one of The Langtree Team Churches - see more below.

For further details of services at St Mary the Virgin and other local Churches, please click on the link below.

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Organ Appeal

The Organ Restoration Appeal

See http://www.saveourpipeorgan.org

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Appeal Update - November 2018

Our target for the full restoration of the organ is £30,000 and currently we have raised or have pledges totalling £26,770. Our shortfall is now just £4770 and the PCC will soon be commissioning the organ builders F H Browne & Sons to undertake the restoration. Hopefully the organ builders will be able to start the work in early 2019.

Any new donations, no matter how small, will be gratefully received and will allow us commission the work to restore our precious little organ. For further details, please see our website: www.saveourpipeorgan.org

Update - January 2019

The PCC have signed a contract with F H Browne & Sons to undertake the restoration work on the organ and they hope to start work on 4th February. The organ will be largely removed to their workshops in Canterbury for the restoration work and will be away for approximately 3 months.

Please be aware that some of the organ pipes will be stored in boxes in the north transept and others behind the chancel arch. These pipes are delicate and easily damaged so please do not touch or move any of them in any way.

Whilst the organ is away, we may be able to undertake some remedial and decoration work to the area around and above the organ.

We would like to thank all those involved in the project and those who have kindly made donations or pledges to the fund.

We are still showing a small shortfall from the required £30,000 so any new donations or pledges would still be most welcome at this time.

Church history

St Mary The Virgin Church
Tradition has it that the first church in Ipsden was a small chapel on Berins Hill, about 2 miles east of the present church, built by St Birinus when he came from Rome in AD626 to convert the Saxon peoples of South Oxfordshire. He became the first Bishop of Dorchester and fixed the parish boundaries, which survive to this day.

The second Ipsden church was in a field south of The Street opposite the Old Vicarage, about ½ mile south of the present church. It fell into disrepair in the 12th century and was eventually demolished: the materials were used to repair and enlarge the present church which was much smaller and a mere upland chapel for the adjoining parish of North Stoke. This church, on the present site, became Ipsden Parish Church, but the change probably was also the origin of the legend of the Devil taking away the stones of Ipsden Church. As late as the early 19th century there were still people in Ipsden who referred to it as the ‘Church-on-the-hill’ and refused to give to its proper title.

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The oldest part of the present building is the North Chapel, almost certainly the old North Stoke Upland Chapel: there is a small stained glass window in the west wall of the chapel which is a typical Norman window. The clear glass window opposite is a decorated window dating from the late 14th or early 15th century and is probably in place of a chancel arch. The wall painting round this window was completed around 1400 and was cleaned and restored in 1990 - the whole wall was probably covered with a simple floral decoration and the surviving example of this can be seen near the lower south ledge of the window. Outside there are remains of Saxon stonework.

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The present chancel is said by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner to be late 12th century and the memorial brasses, dedicated to Sir Thomas Englysche and his wife, are dated 1525. The Englysche family were landowners in the 15th and 16th centuries and there is still an Englysche farm near Ipsden Heath. The nave is a mixture of 13th and 14th century work and at one time there was a South Aisle, traces of which are still clearly visible. The gallery at the west end of the bell tower was built about 1860 as a memorial to John and Anna-Marie Reade of Ipsden House whose descendents are still in Ipsden and one of whom is on the Ipsden Friends Committee, Kate Miller. The organ was installed at the end of the 19th century and is a remarkably fine instrument for a small country church, although unfortunately it blocks all the light from the west window.

Outside the church is a well that was presented to the community in 1965 by Raja Sir Deonarayn Singh, KCSI, who followed the example of the Mahrajah of Beanares who presented a well to the nearby village of Stoke Row

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Ipsden PCC

[from The Churchwardens Measure 2001 Guide, The Churchwardens Handbook& various descriptions of duties on Google]

CHURCHWARDENS Responsibilities
  • Officers of the bishop [not the incumbent nor the PCC]
  • Must be foremost in representing the laity and cooperating with the incumbent
  • Must use their best endeavours by example and precept to encourage the parishioners
    in the practice of true religion and to promote unity and peace among them
  • Must discharge the duties assigned to them by law and customer [eg in relation to the
    offerings or collections in the Church or in relation to the church building and the land
    and articles belonging to it]
  • Must maintain order and decency in the church and churchyard, especially during the
    time of divine service
  • Hold the title to the moveable goods of the church, must keep an inventory of those
    goods and keep it up to date, and must hand over goods to their successors, who must check the inventory

  • Main duties
    1. Produce an inventory of all articles belonging to the church and its land to be compiled and signed and sent to the person designated by the bishop. Alterations should also be notified on a regular basis
    2. Maintain a logbook which details all work done to the church, its articles and land [terrier] with relevant papers, in consultation with the minister
    3. Produce for the PCC the terrier, inventory and logbook covering the previous year with a signed statement that the contents are accurate
    4. Photograph church plate and ornaments with full details of dimensions, weight, inscriptions and hallmark in the inventory
    5. Inspect the fabric at least every calendar year
    6. Make an annual fabric report to the PCC – work done in the previous year plus action
      taken or proposal to implement recommendations of the latest quinquennial report at
      the AGM
    7. Compile the list of sidespersons, readers and intercession prayers every 4 months
    8. Being a support to the Minister
    9. Be a member of and leader in the PCC
    10. Support for Services
    11. If the PCC fails to appoint a treasurer, responsible for discharging this office
    12. During a vacancy in the benefice, will be sequestrators together with the rural or area
      dean and anyone else whom the bishop appoints
  • Appointment
  • Chosen to hold office for only one year at a time
  • Elected at the annual meeting of the parishioners [to be held before 30th April] which is
    convened by the Minister – churchwarden candidate’s nomination/consent to serve must be received before the meeting commences
  • The churchwarden must make an oral declaration in the presence of the bishop that he/she will faithfully discharge the duties of the office and sign a written declaration – normally at the archdeacon’s annual visitation
  • Two for each parish [“a single churchwarden acting alone can be placed under an reasonable burden”]
  • Maximum continuous period in the same parish is 6 terms of office ie 6 years [unless the parishioners pass a formal resolution], after which at least a 2 year break
  • Desirable to stagger the two churchwardens periods of office
  • Casual vacancies can be filled at any time
  • A churchwarden may resign by giving the bishop written notice , which takes effect at
    the end of two months unless the bishop fixes a date before then
  • Must be baptised
  • Must have his or her name on the electoral roll
  • Must be an actual communicant
  • Must be aged 21 or over
  • Must have signified consent to serve
  • Cannot be churchwarden of more than one parish at the same time
  • If disqualified from being a charity trustee
  • Conviction of a criminal offence covered by the Children and Young Persons act [unless
  • Disqualification by the bishop eg due to a serious breakdown of the pastoral
    relationship between an incumbent
  • His/her name is removed from the parish electoral roll – which happens if the person
    is ordained to Holy Orders; requests removal in writing; ceases to be resident in the parish, unless continues to attend public worship habitually in the parish during a 6 month period or is prevented from doing so by illness or other such sufficient cause; was not entitled to have name on the roll
  • Not the bishop’s officers
  • Exercise functions delegated to them by the Churchwardens for example:
    • delegated authority to deal with some matters relating to the fabric of the church such as maintaining a logbook which details all work done to the church, its articles and land [terrier] with relevant papers, in consultation with the minister, inspecting with the Churchwardens the fabric at least every calendar year; contributing to an annual fabric report to the PCC – work done in the previous year plus action taken or proposal to implement recommendations of the latest quinquennial report at the APCM
    • producing and maintaining an inventory of all articles belonging to the church and its land, including photographing church plate and ornaments with full details of dimensions, weight, inscriptions and hallmark in the inventory
  • dealing with Ipsden Church legal matters, such as updating the electoral roll on an annual basis; dealing with the Diocesan Advisory Committee [DAC] and petitions for a faculty
  • deputizing for the Churchwardens on an occasional basis at Church Services and funerals
Undertake other duties and responsibilities as agreed, for example managing events within the Church such as exhibitions and concerts; managing the rota of organists; assisting the Minister in supporting members of the Ipsden community
Theparochial church council (PCC) is the executive committee of the Ipsden Church of England parish and consists of clergy and churchwardens of the parish, together with representatives of the laity.
Legally the council is responsible for the financial affairs of the church parish and the maintenance of its assets, such as churches and church halls, and promoting the mission of the church. The PCC is a charity.
Two Acts of Parliament define the powers and duties of PCCs. The Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure, as amended, defines the principal functions and purpose of the PCC, which is the responsibility of co‐operating with the incumbent (rector, vicar or priest) in promoting the mission of the Church in its parishSection 6 of the Synodical Government Measure 1969 (No. 2) Act amended the list of PCC functions originally in Section 2 of the 1956 Act.
The PCC is responsible for the financial affairs of the church and the care and maintenance of the church fabric and its contents, including demanding chancel repair liability from St John’s College, Cambridge . These latter responsibilities are executed by churchwardens or other volunteers. It also has a voice in the forms of service used by the church and may make representations to the bishop and deanery synod on matters affecting the welfare and pastoral care of the parish.
The PCC is required to appoint a church electoral roll officer who maintains the roll of lay members entitled to take part in the annual parish meeting. Generally the roll is revised annually.
Part II of the Church Representation Rules, (Synodical Government Measure 1969 No.2) states how a PCC should be constituted. A PCC consists of the clergy and churchwardens of the parish, together with a number of representatives of the laity elected at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting by means of being nominated and seconded at the meeting, and also being listed on the parish roll for at least six months. The incumbent is the chairman of the PCC and a lay member is appointed vice‐chairman. The PCC must meet at least four times a year.
Many parish post‐holders are appointed by the PCC such as sidesperson, child protection representative, treasurer, chalice bearers and sacristan. However, churchwardens must be elected at an annual meeting of parishioners pursuant to the Churchwardens Measure 2001 (No.1). Church wardens are ex‐officio members of the PCC.
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