A PILGRIM’S GUIDE TO ALL SAINTS CHURCH
WELCOME TO A VIRTUAL TOUR OF ALL SAINTS! We do hope you will enjoy your virtual visit to this historic church built in the late 12th century. A church is more than just a building – it is a place where people who comprise the living church meet to worship the living God. This is a pilgrim’s guide, look at the picture of the church building, we shall try to explain the meaning of some of the things you see.
1. The Doors.
The south door, by which you enter is a marvellous 12th-century piece with wrought iron. The door surround on the north side of the church is even older – it is a fine piece of Norman work.
These ancient church doors reminder us that Jesus said, ‘I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved’. Christians ‘enter’ by Jesus Christ when they ask him to be their Saviour.
2. The Font.
The font is very old, although it is now set on a Victorian base. Notice the Perpendicular period carving – each of the eight faces has a different design.
The font is used for baptism, when a person is symbolically washed with water in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Baptism is an outward sign of God’s gift of the forgiveness of sins and the start of a new life as a member of his family. The water speaks of a cleansing from sins and the life-giving Spirit of God. A child is brought to baptism because of the faith of the parents and godparents, but later the child must choose to follow Christ for him or herself. This is usually marked by the service of Confirmation, but we all need to reconfirm our baptismal promises from time to time.
3. The Nave and Transepts.
The nave (main body of the church) is mainly 13th-century. The capitals of the pillars are decorated with carved leaves, each one different. Note the tortoise at the base of one of the pillars.
The two perpendicular windows in the north aisle are beautifully proportioned. The west window, behind the organ, is also very fine. The organ at the west end is a modern concert instrument with 1390 pipes, installed in 1969.
The charity boards on the wall in the north transept are 18th-century. All the charity funds have now been consolidated into one united charity.
A careful reordering of the south transept has provided a servery for refreshments, meeting rooms and toilets.
Although impressive, the nave is not very practical for modern worship: it is hard to see what is going on, although the low platform under the tower helps. Without the use of the modern audio system (which includes an induction loop for hearing aid users) it would be hard to hear the vicar or lesson reader. The Bible is God’s Word and it is vital that all can hear it read and explained in the sermon. It is also important that the whole congregation feels part of the worship, since all have a part to play.
4. The Chapels.
The Unton Chapel has the Elizabethan kneeling figure of Lady Dorothy Unton and other interesting family monuments. The Pye Chapel contains several fine memorials to members of the Pye family. Further information on the chapels is given on the hand-bats.
5. The Tower.
The supporting pillars are massive, originally 13th-century, with finely carved capitals. Look up at the stone heads as you pass under the tower. Outside, the squat tower once had a spire, destroyed during the Civil War while Faringdon House behind the church was besieged by Parliamentary forces! See the cannon ball in the case on the east wall of the transept (under the overhang).
There is a ring of eight bells, making a fine octave in the key of E. The clock and carillon chimes were fitted in 1926 and play a hymn tune at three-hourly intervals. The bells are rung to call people to worship on Sundays and to celebrate special events. Regular worship is an important part of being a Christian – we owe it to God and we need the fellowship and teaching. You would be most welcome to join us. Our Sunday services are at 8:00am, 10:30am and 6:30pm.
6. The Chancel.
The chancel is Early English in style, dating back to the 13th century, and contains the communion table. Interesting brasses are mounted on the north wall of the Sanctuary, and on the south side there are three priests’ seats under an ornate stone canopy.
The communion table reminds us of the heart of the Christian message. Jesus died on the Cross to take our sins and rose again to give us life. Week by week, the family of God remembers his death and resurrection by gathering around the table to receive Holy Communion. The bread and the wine are the outward signs of God’s gift of his only Son. In receiving these signs in faith and trust, we receive Jesus Christ.
7. God’s people
These are just some of the features of this ancient building, where people have worshipped God for over 800 years. But old churches are not meant to be dry and dusty museums – the living church is made up of the people who use the building in this as in previous ages for prayer and praise, for forgiveness and encouragement, for joy and sorrow, for teaching and learning.
We are a part of the Christian family in Faringdon and worldwide. Working side by side with Christians from all churches, our prime aim is to respond faithfully to God’s call. Only then can we fulfil his purposes in witnessing to his truth and helping others to find him.
We hope that you have enjoyed your virtual visit to All Saints’. Please say a prayer for all who worship here and for yourself. You might like to use the following words:
“Bless, O Lord our God, the worship and work of this church, that it may be a house of prayer, a centre of true teaching, a community of service and a witness to your redeeming love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
“ Lord Jesus, you gave yourself for me upon the cross. I now give myself to you: all that I have, all that I am, all that I hope to be. Give me your forgiveness, your love, your courage, and send me out in your name and in your service. Amen”