St Botolphs Church Swyncombe


14th October 2018   12 Noon at Russell’s Water Village Hall


Tickets  £10 for adults    Under 10’s   No charge


Tickets from Felicity Bazell



Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal:
that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 

 John Ch. 4; vv. 35 – 38



Christmas is coming—again!    Yes, it is that time of the year again when the Swyncombe Singers are gargling regularly to tune our voices up for the  marathon of Party Carols.  This year, we will be singing  on Wednesday 19th, Thursday 20th, and Friday, 21st  December.  We traditionally, (by invitation, of course), come and sing carols for about  20 minutes during your Christmas party and we collect for local charities. This year`s chosen charities are The Chiltern Centre for Disabled Children and the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.  We bring carol booklets round with us so that you and your guests can join in if you wish.   Please telephone Meg Ashby on 01491-641401.



Alfred Khas of Highwood Lodge died from pneumonia on 27th May 2018, aged 92. An obituary of his remarkable life appeared in The Times under the heading – “Waffen-SS soldier and prisoner of war who made his life in Britain and wooed his future life on the dance floor”.

The scene was the Village Hall at Russell’s Water in December 1949, when he invited Joan Lewis to waltz. They were married in March 1951. Their only child Helen was born the next year. Joan died in March 2015.

Alfred loved to walk in Watlington Park. One day, the new owner of the Park, Mrs Gabrielle Jungels Winkler suggested to him that he was trespassing. He confessed but she allowed him to continue with his daily transgressions.

Years later, a resident of Christmas Common received an enquiry from Canada asking for any information concerning a crash of a Canadian plane based at Benson with two Canadian airmen on a joy ride – both killed in an appalling tragedy.

Alfred was able to pinpoint the exact trees that had been wrecked by the crash to the relatives who flew in from Canada. Alfred and his visitors were welcomed to Watlington Park by Mrs Winkler and served with champagne.

Alfred’s funeral was held on Thursday 28th June, attended by 50 friends and family. He will be remembered by all who knew him as a decent, courteous gentleman. The funeral was followed by a private cremation. His ashes will be interred at a graveside service in St Botolph’s graveyard at a later date.

obituary …..reproduced by kind permission of the author, Paul de Zulueta.



For three weekend during February St Botolphs welcomed hundreds of visitors

to come and see the snowdrops, the Church and enjoy some great local baking

with a cup of tea.  Even snow, sleet, hail and rain did not keep the visitors away.

Luckily we also had sunshine, the snowdrops held their splendour and it culminated in an

amazing £7,600 figure being raised for this beautiful, ancient church.    We would like to thank all

friends, family, neighbours, locals  and those who come from further away for continuing to support

this special event and place.


Reverend Daniel Thompson

blessing the snowdrops


Denis and Zena Pepper

Visted Snowdrop Sunday all the way from Folkstone.

Denis is the author of two books about St Botolph



OCT 29TH 10:00am

A very well attended service was held with candles being lit

for all those being remembered.

The effect of all the candles was moving and thought provoking.

Harvest Festival 2017

A true sign that the summer has gone and autumn is now with us.

Ismayne Peters and her helpers decorated the church beautifully and

after church the Harvest Festival Lunch was held in the Russells Water Village Hall


Garden Tea Party

Sunday Aug 20th  2-5pm

Luckily the sun shone which brought people out to enjoy the Cream Teas at Chears Farm.

With lots of help and great baking £1000 was raised which was split between funds for St Botolph’s and Famine Relief

We thank everyone who helped and supported this event which was a great social as well

as a fun way to raise funds.



Please note that most of the photographs seen within

this website have been kindly taken by John Sennett.

Many thanks.




Dear all

A rather belated Thank You for all your invaluable help with the visitors from St Marys Church, Iffley, Oxon.  They were 46 in the end and they enjoyed the afternoon very much, especially since the weather was kind. We offered a delicious choice of cake and splendid biscuits.  It would not have been possible without all of your support, which is much appreciated.  For the Tea & Cake,  I was presented with a cheque for £138.00 for the church.

My special thanks must go to Len for kindly giving a most interesting talk about our church – every time I listen to him I learn something new!

Kind regards.

Hilary Cox


Sir Michael Willcocks

The Former Black Rod

On April 27th 2017 at 7pm St Botolphs Church was

full of a good mix on congregation and others new to the church

who had come to listen to Sir Michael speak.  He did not disappoint.

His tales of Bosnia, were both harrowing and amusing as he explained the

complexity of Russians, British, Americans and others all trying to

work together with different levels of success.

Later he touched on the his appointment as Black Rod and discussed the

condition and security of Westminster today.

The event was very successful and was organised by David Orpwood  who

gave Sir Michael a cheque of £500 for his chosen charity, Help the Heroes.

A Further £500 was donated to the Church Funds.


The Annual Cleaning Party

On Saturday April 22nd 2017

Under the guidance of Cheryl a happy gang

almost whistled while they worked, making sure our Church

looks its best.

The Church looks wonderful and even smells great now.

Well done everyone and thank you to Felicity for bringing CAKE.



This year we had some snow, some rain, definitely a lot wind and then

miraculously a sunny spell in the middle.  In spite of the Book tent

giving up the ghost due to the winds of Storm Doris ( sorry David ) somehow everything

came together with immense contributions of time, effort and goods from a lot of people.

The public arrived in good numbers and appeared to enjoy themselves and St Botolphs probably made some new friends.

Financially we raised a staggering amount of

£7000 before expenses.


FEB 2017 3 sml

FEB 2017 2 sml

FEB 2017 sml

Photographs courtesy of Sarah Jane Rees


Christopher Evans’ Final Service as Rector of St Botolph’s: Sunday 16th October 2016


Unsurprisingly, the pews in the aisle became packed. So many people had come to pay their respects to Christopher: late arrivals sat in the Chancel.

Although we called it a Choral Eucharist, it should have been named a Choral Family Eucharist, as there were so many families present, fulfilling Christopher’s hope that Family services could become an accepted part of our Eucharist at Swyncombe. This was the highest attendance of communicants at St Botolph’s since Christmas Day 2014.

It was rather special to see the front two rows on the South side occupied by Jane and Christopher’s family – not quite the tribe of Benjamin but here goes for the record: Nicholas & Paula with Caspar (with apologies from Finland): Cara and husband Ben with Isobel: Chloe & partner Michael: Francis: Miriam & Jake with Alfie & Matilda: Phoebe & George.

Christopher preached an unequivocal sermon about Life’s Struggles – taking his text from the first reading from Genesis Chapter 32 verses 22-31 and the mysterious account of Jacob wrestling throughout the long night with God for his blessing. Wrestling makes us aware of the gap between the ideal and the reality and we are marked by it.  The more seriously we wrestle the more we are marked by the encounter. We may even, like Jacob, emerge limping.

The overriding memory is how Christopher used batons to be a physical reminder to us all that we need to work together in the interregnum so that the church, as he said, “flourishes”. This was particularly poignant as physical props are something that are rarely used in services at Swyncombe. This was a reminder that things will be changing.


Christopher said that he was passing the responsibility to grow St Botolph’s to all of us, after which he involved all the children and made his sermon relevant to them. We are all part of a relay team!

An infrequent attender e-mailed to say: “A very enjoyable service with a lovely atmosphere”.

It was pleasing to see faces not often seen at St Botolph’s.


All candles were lit, including the newly lacquered candelabra gleaming above, in the nave. Swyncombe’s flowers were at their radiant best.

For two hymns on the organ, we were blessed with the playing of Alan Shorter.

Christopher reminded us that Alan had played the organ at St Leonard’s, Watlington at his inauguration at St Leonard’s in 1987: how appropriate that Alan should play at his farewell service at St Botolph’s, Swyncombe.

There was warm applause.

Carole Shorter played the organ, the piano, conducted all other music resplendently and composed a descant for the final, great hymn of rejoicing –‘Now thank we all our God’.

The Rector had chosen the hymns. These included ‘Listen’, sung by the Junior Choir, including soloists Archie Denison Pender – James Bush & Bridget Ashby, with Ellie Vockins, who sings with both junior and grown-up choir. Christopher’s leaving service was very special to Archie in particular, as he remembers his Baptism so well as he was 4 years old.  He stood up at the front of the church holding Christopher’s hand!  So singing a solo at Christopher’s leaving service was especially important.

Christopher had wished to have had us sing Charles Wesley’s great words:

Hymn no: 243: Come, O thou Traveller unknown

But tune is unknown. The hymn had been sung at the Leavers’ Eucharist in the Chapel of Chichester Theological College 39 years ago. What a shame!  The words are stunning.

Hilary Cox and Jane Evans read the lessons. Prayers for Christopher and Jane were led by Brian Burridge.


The worship ended with an unprompted first verse of Bread of Heaven organised by the Choir in tribute to Christopher’s Welsh roots as he walked down the aisle after the service. The Welsh coal in Christopher’s eyes glowed approval and emotion.

The weather was wet and overcast at the start of the service. Happily, the sun came out so that afterwards we could have drinks and canapes (kindly donated by many parishioners and organised by Hilary Cox and Brian Burridge and many others) in the sunshine outside.


Warm tributes to Christopher were given by Tim Lewis and Stuart Walsh, to whom Christopher responded cum laude.  A beautiful photo-album, assembled and crafted by Lizzie Christie-Miller, reflecting Christopher’s time at St Botolph’s was presented to Jane and Christopher.


The Bishop of Dorchester, Colin Fletcher has written the following words to all Churchwardens in the Benefice:

I am very sorry that I will not be able to be with you for any of the various events and services being held to mark Christopher’s retirement though it was lovely to meet with him recently and to share with him his reflections on his 19 years in the Icknield Benefice.

That period, as all of you well know, has been one where there has been a great change both in the local area and in the benefice itself.  Christopher’s ministry has been, quintessentially, that of the parish priest who cares for their whole community without fear or favour.  He has also been a faithful man of prayer – the centre of any good priestly vocation.  But alongside this faithful service he has also shown resilience and creativity whether that has been in developing buildings or in thinking of new ways to reach out to the whole community.

I wish him and Jane a wonderful, and well deserved, retirement and it is good to know that they will still be living in the Dorchester Area.

signature colin bishop of dorchester

And so say all of us!


Wedding photo scottorn

On Saturday October 8th 2016

The wedding of Sam Scottorn and Rebecca Kelly took place.

Sam Scottorn grew up in Park Corner and the couple are now living in London.


Harvest Festival

Sunday Sept 25th 2016

After the harvest festival service at which the decorations were great and both Junior and Senior choirs sang beautifully a large group headed off to the Russells Water Village Hall for a wonderful lunch prepared by the team of Lou Campbell, Marlene Richards, Janice Bayford and John Sennett.  The choir members provided delicious crumbles to finish off the meal.  After lunch Brian Burridge skilfully managed our produce auction and then a hamper of goodies put together by Hilary Cox  was raffled.  In all it was an enjoyable and successful occasion.  A grand total of £ 727 was raised and it will be divided equally between  The Wallingford Food Bank and The Porch “Steppin” Stone Centre in Oxford.


 Tim Lewis Retirement from the PCC Party

Saturday August 27 2016

In the beautiful surroundings of David and Jean Orpwood’s garden, members of the Parish said a grateful farewell to Tim Lewis as he stepped down from being Church Warden and the chairman of the PCC. For many years Tim has served his Church and community tirelessly. David and Jean along with Helen and Stuart Walsh  produced a superb barbecue lunch which was very much enjoyed under the gazebo looking at the garden  horses and very black sky.On behalf of everyone Hilary Cox thanked Tim for all his great work and then he was presented with an amazing caricature which very cleverly included many aspects of his life. Luckily for us, Tim is not going away, so we will all continue to see him regularly.time lewis party 2 smltim lewis party 1 sml


Our Patronal Service on June 12th 2016

 A message from Hilary Cox, our Church Warden

Dear All

A brief ‘Thank You’ to all who contributed/helped with the Service and the ‘Drinks Do’ yesterday to celebrate both St Botolph’s Patronal Day and the Queen’s Official 90th Birthday.  I should especially like to thank Lou Campbell, John Sennett and Tim Lewis who helped with setting up.

We had well over 60 in the congregation, many tempted along by the two Choirs, especially the Junior Choir who delighted us all – well done, Carole!  The anthem sung by the Adult Choir was lovely, especially: ‘God be in my Head’, one of my personal favourites.

A huge thank you to those who brought along food – the table fairly heaved with goodies. While it was a shame we couldn’t hold the event outside as usual, it was nevertheless good to hear the church ‘buzz’ with chat and laughter.

Also many thanks to Meg Ashby for her help and Christopher Evans for a memorable church service.





A big WELL DONE to the team of expert cleaners who have made sure

that St Botolphs always looks its best.

spring clean 2

Meg Ashby, team leader Cherly Barnes, Elly Crossman, Bea Bazell, Felicity Bazell and Anabel Elworthy

Here is a sight not often seen.

Even the Kneelers were taken out for some fresh air

spring clean 1


APRIL 22 2016


Over eighty people came to listen to a most informative and entertaining

talk by Lord Jay.  One could not help but be impressed by his knowledge

and the ease of his address.  The finale of singing “I vow to thee, my country

was most fitting and moving.

It is estimated that over £1100 was raised during the evening, a spectacular result.

lord kay speech

Lord Michael Jay, Hilary Cox, Church Warden and Rector Christopher Evans


In memory of two of St Botolphs’ past rectors,

Rev’d Donald Membery  1981-1988

and Rev’d John Furness 1988-1999

a service was held on Sunday Dec 6th 2015

dedication of tablets



A faithful servant of this church

blessing bench dot ackermantim lewis party 1 sml


Held at Chears Farm and organised by
Shelagh Stevens and Tessa McWhirter.

The weather was kind, the garden looked beautiful and many cream teas were gratefully consumed.

In all nearly £800 was raised which was shared between St Botolph’s and The Nepal Earthquake Fund.

THE SWYNCOMBE GARDEN PARTY 2014card13140629stbot 006 751x499Sunday 29th June 2014Venue: The Old Rectory Nr St. Botolph’s ChurchA fun Sunday afternoon for all the family, especially children, who were encouraged to wear FANCY DRESS!  Prizes were awarded for the most original costumes.

Photo used with kind permission of their parents

Mia Burridge (left) and Magda Smart (right : Winners of the Fancy Dress Competition

With Strawberry cream teas; bouncy castle; trampoline and face painting PLUS lots more including ‘chuck the sponge’ ‘Splat the Rat….

Graham and Vikki : We didn't get the names of the sheep!

Graham and Nicki : We didn’t get the names of the sheep!

Churchwarden Tim Lewis with Charlie and Emma Christie-Miller

Churchwarden Tim Lewis with Charlie and Emma Christie-Miller

GOT IT! Splat-the-Rat with Amy in charge

GOT IT! Splat-the-Rat with Amy in charge

Brian Burridge (Air Marshall) willing and repeated Chuck-a-Sponge victim. Also a keen supporter if the church.

Brian Burridge (Air Marshall) willing and repeated Chuck-a-Sponge victim! Also a keen supporter of the church.

 PAST EVENTSON MAY 10TH 2014 WATLINGTON LIBRARY HOSTED ASPECIAL EVENT TO CELEBRATE THE LAUNCHING OF DOROTHY ACKERMAN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY  THE COWMAN’S DAUGHTERa delightful and humorous account of a local girl’s life in and around a ‘sleepy Oxfordshire village’resized book launch from her birth in 1926 , through the war years – right up to the present daynow in her 88th year Dorothy, born in Nettlebed, has never lived more than a 5 mile radius of where she was born. She  has worshipped at St. Botolph’s for over 50 years and has been at the hub of every event – whether it be cake-making, cleaning the church, polishing the brass, church laundry – you name it – she has done it.  It was therefore a great privilege to attend her book launching which was done in great style with over a hundred people toasting her in champagne as they turned up to wish her well and/or buy her book.The church wardens and members of the PCC then took this opportunity to pay their own special tribute to her in recognition of her wonderful work in the South African black township of Mothibistad.   This very special lady ventured out into the unknown at the age of 80  – the story of this 7yr adventure  is related in the last chapter of her book!    Tim Lewis, church warden, presented Dorothy with an engraved brass plaque (to be attached to a gift of pews in St. Paul’s church Mothibistad where she is well known) this reads:for pewsPresented by St. Botolph’s Swyncombe in recognition and gratitude for the work of DOROTHY ACKERMANwith the Valley of Hope Team in Mothibistad 2007 – 2014SWYNCOMBE – HAVE YOUR SAYWhether you come to St. Botolph’s Church in Swyncombe for the occasional service, regularly, to visit a grave, or not at all, it is an important part of your Parish, both from a spiritual point of view and as a focal point for your community.We would like to know your views about the Church.  We wish to learn how we can better serve you, your families, friends and neighbours, living in Cookley Green,  Russells Water, Maidensgrove, Christmas Common, Park Corner and Swyncombe.  We would be very grateful if you would take just a few moments to complete our brief questionnaire.We will use the findings from this questionnaire to discuss how we can improve St. Botolph’s Church to make it more relevant for everyone.  Our findings will be published in the local parish magazine ‘THE NEWS’.

Get in touch
tel: 01491 614218

Hilary Cox

Our Rector is The Rev'd Daniel Thompson.

Please contact him for general enquiries and arranging baptisms, weddings and funerals.

His email is:
or ring 01491 614218

 Feast Day: 17th June