October 9 – Church micro-ing around Bicester

Fermor chapel at Somerton Church

Hi from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Out for another day exploring the countryside around Bicester. Our first church micro was called ‘In the Beginning – Emmanuel church’. It was a brand new church with a nice car park. So often churches have no parking at all even on the road outside. I suppose everyone walked to church in the old days.

St Edburg’s church had no church micro but we had to go to visit and we are glad we did. It had a lovely gilded screen, a tub font, a fine altar and reredos. It also had some lovely stained glass windows including one by Mayer and Co. Munich. We are getting more and more interested in the stained glass window makers and spend time looking for the few signatures that we know and we are now able to recognise a few styles. There were also some nice stone carvings and processional banners.

Next, we went to St. Mary’s Church in Great Chesterton. We have visited this church before but we had not done the geocache so off we went around the churchyard to collect the numbers needed for the final coordinates. We needed to find four seats but could only find three despite going all around the churchyard three times. Eventually, I tried to work on the numbers and found that I could figure it out without the fourth seat. We were going to have lunch here but it was a bit too chilly so we went to sit in the car to eat.

At St. Mary’s Church, Ardley with Fewcott we came up against a very clever cache which had us stumped for a while. I worked out where the hint indicated and we were lucky there were not too many people about. Initially, Mike climbed the wrong tree and was not keen to climb another one. Luckily he hates to miss out on a church micro so I was able to persuade him to climb the correct tree and there it was. Personally, I think he secretly enjoys the adventurous side of geocaching. The church was not open.

Our next port of call was the opposite way around. The church was impressive but had no church micro, this was St James the Apostle Church in Somerton. Saint James the Apostle is known to have existed by 1074. The Norman carved doorway in the nave dates from this period. In the 16th-century, the south aisle of St. James’ church was converted into the Fermor family chapel. There are tombs for Thomas and Brigitta Fermor, and impressive tombs for John and Richard. Also a monumental brass for William 1552. When Thomas Fermor died in 1580, his will provided for the founding of a “free school” for Somerton boys to be instructed in “virtue and learning”. The church also has a beautiful stone carves reredos featuring the ‘Last Supper’ which dates from 14th-century.

Our last call for the day was St Olaves in Fritwell. It is not technically a church micro but the cache is named for the church. It was a lovely little church with a painted organ, a 14th-century font and an Edwardian funeral bier for carrying the coffins. I was a bit worried about three little girls playing in the churchyard and that they might see us retrieving the geocache but they didn’t. We took a Sydney the Koala travel bug from the cache. It has travelled 2990.4 km since its release in 2013 just around England and Scotland.