Welcome to the restored 12th Century church of St John the Baptist Kingston Lisle. We hold Communion services at 10am on the first Sunday of the month, as well as Christmas and Easter services when the Kingston Lisle Festival Choir performs to a packed church. Our services are celebrated by our Rector, the Revd Leonora Hill. We’re also holding an increasing number of baptisms, weddings and funerals. We look forward to welcoming you into our congregation, which has recently quadrupled to reach its highest levels in at least 30 years. We've also begun to hold our first concerts for many years. The church is always open though the latch ring is stiff!
Allegedly founded in response to pagan worship on nearby White Horse Hill, the Grade 2* listed building nestles on the north flank of the Ridgeway escarpment and seats 120. Church historian Nikolaus Pevsner notes the iron hingework on the main door c.1200, the 14th Century wall paintings (featuring St Peter, St Paul, Herod and Salome, who is seen dancing provocatively and sporting the head of the Baptist on a platter), the 15th-17th Century woodwork and the stained glass. The Victorians added a vestry, porch and bell tower but left the interior largely untouched.
The church was put on Historic England's “Heritage At Risk” register in October 2014 and we completed a £400,000 restoration in April 2017. Beginning with urgent repairs to the roof, timbers and walls, we re-rendered the exterior, put in new heating and lighting, conserved the wall paintings, redecorated the interior, improved the seating and flooring, and restored the woodwork. We've also installed a restored, enhanced and recased pipe organ as the final stage of the process: this is being treated by the experts as a national model for small church organ installations with limited space and budget. We think it looks and sounds fabulous.
The restoration safeguards the building’s structure for generations to come, transforms it for our growing congregation and other visitors from near and far, and enhances its position at the centre of our community. We reopened the church at a special celebration service on Palm Sunday 2016 with the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester, and our MP Ed Vaizey in attendance. The Kingston Lisle Festival Choir gave the first performance of a new work written for the occasion.
We've been supported by 23 local and national grant providers including the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Churches Trust, Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust, ChurchCare, the Allchurches Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Idlewild Trust, the Veneziana Fund, the William and Jane Morris Fund, the ON Organ Fund and the Wolfson Foundation. Adding donations within the village, the proceeds from concerts, pub quizzes, a literary event celebrating the bicentenary of Waterloo and our international "sponsor a tile" and "sponsor a pipe" programmes, plus VAT and Gift Aid rebates, our fundraising was completed in December 2018.
The project featured on BBC Radio Oxford following the award of our grant from the National Churches Trust. We were one of only 30 successful churches out of 700 applications nationally, and the only one in Oxfordshire. We were subsequently chosen to headline the NCT's annual fundraising campaign. Our project also featured in a Telegraph Online discussion about rural church closures following a front page piece in the print edition, and was described by Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch as a national model for church restorations. We helped the Heritage Lottery Fund evaluate their Grants for Places of Worship scheme, recorded a webinar for the Institute of Fundraising and presented to the committee undertaking the Taylor Review into sustaining England's 16,000 churches and cathedrals (publsihed in December 2017).
Monthly Communion service
Our monthly communion service is at 10am on the first Sunday of the month. All ages are most welcome and we look forward to seeing you there
Please visit the village website at www.kingstonlisle.net and select the Church page.