Team Whitchurch takes on the 2021 Ride and Stride Challenge

An Ode to Ride and Stride 2021, Whitchurch Canonicorum

We rode, we strode, we "tractored" and ran! 
The weather was 'Fair' and we took to the land. 

Thirteen striders strong and one runner to boot, 
set off from St Candida on a ten mile set route.

Four cyclists met at St Giles, 
contemplating the thirty-four miles
Late joined by a fifth, 
reinforcing the 'it's-going-to-be-a-hilly-ride' myth

Ten tractor drivers came on later 
with revving engines and tuned carburettors 
Setting off from the Five Bells
Shining from front grills to wheel wells
In vintage Massey, Ford and Brown 
Gathering from farms all around

We rode, we strode, we "tractored" and ran!
The weather was 'Fine' and we took to the land.

The striders rambled off southwards to take in the sights
Of sea and coast path, navigating stiles of great heights.
Visiting two different St Gabriel's, one standing, one a ruin
Stopping to rest in the sunshine of the autumn afternoon

One brave runner, fleet of foot, 
From the walkers the lead he took
Garnering local support on social media
Finished and first returned he was to St Candida

Up Wootton, Up Lyme Hill, Up up dingly dell,
The path that the cyclists rode went (sometimes?!) downwards as well.
Stopping at Saint Giles and Ignatius then Saints Gabriel and Paul
Saints Michael, Mary and John, Seventeen churches in all

Through the Vale trailed the tractors, a row of red, blue, grey and brown
Drivers lunched in a sheep shed between Broadoak and Seatown
They putt-putted the crest of Stonebarrow and could be easily seen
Chuntering through Charmouth, then back to Whitchurch by fields green

We rode, we strode, we "tractored" and ran!
The weather was 'partly sunny' and we took to the land.

At the end of the day, 
All finally found their way
Walkers, fast group and slow, 
Tractors, after thirty miles on the go
Cyclists, delayed by a puncture
At the very last juncture

What a merry day we had
And were we ever more than glad
To reach St Candida and Holy Cross
And see tables hosted by Sue, Kay, Judith and Ros
Sandwiches and cakes and tea
All kindly produced by Whitchurch PCC.

We rode, we strode, we "tractored" and ran!
The weather cooperated and we took to the land.

Betsy West Parish Organiser, Whitchurch Canonicorum

We had a terrific day Riding and Striding on 11th September. Thanks to Team Whitchurch for a great effort and to all of our sponsors throughout the community who have donated £1480 (not including Gift Aid) at the time of writing.  Richard Benjamin, Parish Organiser for Chideock rode for St Giles and St Ignatius, joined the riders and, separately, raised money for both churches in Chideock.    All money goes to Dorset Historic Churches Trust which returns half to our nominated church and uses the rest to fund its generous grants for churches throughout the county. It’s not too late to donate to this year’s appeal:

For more information on Dorset Historic Churches Trust please see:

Open Allotments – Thank You!

On behalf of the Church PCC and Co-Ord Group we would like to send an enormous thank you for all your help and effort to get our first event off the ground. It was amazing to see so many people in and around the Church on Saturday afternoon in a relaxed atmosphere. 

There are too many people to thank individually, but all the hard work from advertising, getting the allotments ready for inspection, decorating the Church on Friday, the FOSC and all the stall holders we hope you had a good afternoon with sales. And the Cake Squad, a big thank you for all the beautiful cakes and my ladies who spent part of the morning working out how to make the Covid rules work, spaced out, yet friendly. Then more help in the afternoon serving everyone at their tables, we never had a slow moment but kept busy and did not run out of cakes or tea !!! The total of £162.00 was raised from the tea and cakes.

It was a brilliant effort by everyone, a pity the weather was a little unseasonal, but we all managed to make the most of the afternoon.

Thank you all 

Kind Regards
Sue Johnson Sec PCC 

Sunday 31st of July -A Whitchurch Summer Event

The Whitchurch Canonicorum PCC and The Friends of St Candida are planning a Summer Celebration of Open Allotments, Village Street Market and Teas in the Church.

More details will be available shortly, but offers of help to Briony 01297 489546 or to Sue Johnson 01297 489375.

900th Anniversary

In July 1980 the church at Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset celebrated its 900th Anniversary. The church is the only one in the country other than Westminster Abbey to have the bones of its own saint, St Wite, in the church itself. Part of the celebrations was a play, Legends of St Wite written by Christopher Dilke, exploring the possible identity of St Wite. The play was performed in the church.

As well as the play a Fair was also organised to take place at the same time. Craft and produce stall were erected on the church path between the War Memorial and the church gates. Games and other fun activities took place in the field to the South of the church.

Legends of St Wite

In July 1980 the church at Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset celebrated its 900th Anniversary. The church is the only one in the country other than Westminster Abbey to have the bones of its own saint, St Wite, in the church itself. Part of the celebrations was a play, Legends of St Wite written by Christopher Dilke, exploring the possible identity of St Wite. The play was performed in the church with the central character being Guntard, the then Rector of the parish. Guntard was also chaplain to William the Conqueror. The Legends of St Wite entry contains the programme produced for the play with additional photos added.

Eucharist, Sunday 25th October 11 am

We are delighted to announce that St Candida and Holy Cross Church will be celebrating it’s first Eucharist since the COVID19 pandemic crisis restrictions came into force in March 2020.

Rev Anne Howson will be presiding. We hope you will join us on Sunday, 25th October 2020 at 11 am.

Time changes back to GMT overnight, so remember to set your clock!

Ride and Stride and RUN 2020

A Runner’s Perspective by Andrew Christopher


As of January 2020 I decided to take on the New Year’s resolution of getting fit and healthy. Having just graduated from university my lifestyle was very much eating junk food and drinking more than one should. At the beginning of the regime I weighed 13 stone 11 lbs which according to NHS BMI I was overweight and only 2.4 BMI points from being classed as obese. It was announced on the 16th March 2020 that the U.K. was put into lockdown and resulted in the closure of gyms by which point I had already lost 10 lbs (weighing 13 stone 1 lbs). I was determined not to let the lockdown win so instead of attending the gym and its classes I started to exercise in my garden and most importantly took up running! My initial route was 3 miles (5km) and started at the Five Bells Inn through Morcombelake, through Ryall and back to the Five Bells Inn (sadly I couldn’t stop for a pint!). It amazed me how quickly my body adapted to running; at first I walked and ran the route and through consistency I was able to run it without stopping. I then started challenging myself further by running 6 miles (10km) from Whitchurch Canonicorum and back, then more so by running 7 ½ miles (12km) from the Five Bells Inn to and around Stone barrow and back via Ryall! I then decided to participate in a more daring challenge, The Dartmoor 12km Trail Race that included multiple knee-deep river crossings and lots and lots of bog! The next adventure that I wanted to embark on was the Team Whitchurch Ride & Stride church fundraiser!

The Start, St Candida, Whitchurch Canonicorum, 12 September 2020, 10:00 am

As I walked through the church gates I was surprised and happy to many so many people (socially distanced) eager to start striding across the Vale and enjoy the scenery that it encompasses. After a bit of chit chat and a photo, the group began striding out of the church grounds, once we passed the war memorial my brother, Angus and myself started running the route. The first leg took us towards the village hall where we turned right on to Becklands Lane leading us to the first section of cross country running! The first leg was ideal to fully warm ourselves up and prepared for the rest of the run as it was predominantly flat. After running past many farm animals (who weren’t disturbed) and next to the River Char we found ourselves next to the A35 and then at Catherston Leweston, our first checkpoint.

Checkpoint A, St Mary’s Church, Catherston Leweston

The first checkpoint saw us stop at St Mary’s Church that was once owned by local manor house and located through the driveway. The church holds up to 30 people and is ideal for small services. After rehydrating and feeling warmed up we decided to begin our second leg to the next check point. This leg had proved to be much more challenging with a total of 93m climb and gradients of up to 20%! With steep climbs come rewards as the trail started to display picturesque views of Charmouth and the surrounding coastline. Towards 4 miles (7km) into the run we could see St Paul’s church in the distance.

Checkpoint B, St Paul’s, Wootton Fitzpaine

St Paul’s is located 1 mile in its village centre and is built within the original grounds of the Manor House. After a quick rest and looking at the church we prepared ourselves for toughest leg of the run, Wootton Fitzpaine to Fishpond Bottom! Climbing 173m and gradient as high as 23% our cadence increased as our stride length decreased!  As we ascended further and further the encompassing views the route had to offer became breath-taking (not just because we’d run 6 miles by this point!).

Checkpoint C, St John the Baptist, Fishpond

At last the climb was over (for now) and located in a commanding position, overlooking the beautiful Marshwood Vale, in the hamlet of Fishpond Bottom was St John the Baptist Church. Now ready for our last leg we head towards Abbots Wootton lane, climbed over a gate, and continued the route off road towards Cards Mill Lane. After taking a wrong turning we managed to add an extra 2 ½ miles (4km) to our run where we eventually found Cards Mill Lane leading us back to St Candida, our final destination of the run!

Thank you to everyone for organising the Ride & Stride and thank you to all those that kindly donated. It is amazing to see that we have exceeded our goal by over 30% totalling £1590!!!

I would also like to congratulate my brother, Angus who decided to join at the last minute and hasn’t been running long for embarking 20km, that’s a half marathon!!

Special thanks to my mother, Una, and Grandmother, Helen Gale, who acted as support vehicle for Angus and myself.

Since January 2020 I have lost 2 stones and 3 lbs and now weigh 11 stone and 8 lbs. I have certainly received the mental benefits of exercising, particularly during the lockdown. Exercise and physical activity has been proven to help physical and mental health and also the well being of individuals. Regardless of age, race and gender everyone should feel welcomed to exercise and physical activity.

I look forward to the next Ride & Stride.

Concerts at St Candida and Holy Cross

From the Purcellian Concerts to the annual Alice Dilke Memorial Concert, Choral Evensong to Carols by Candlelight, for many years the church has been known for providing an excellent venue for enjoying classic and sacred music. We look forward to the return of concerts to the church when the restrictions to prevent spreading COVID-19 are no longer needed.