St John the Baptist, Stone with St Peter and St Paul, Dinton
Stone with Bishopstone, Sedrup and Hartwell has a total population of 2,587. Stone is closest to Aylesbury and has the busy A418 running through its centre. The closure of St John’s Hospital and the subsequent development of the site as well as other new housing have significantly increased the village’s population in the last 20 years and brought many new, younger families to the area. Many of these incomers look more towards Aylesbury rather than getting involved in village life. More housing developments are likely in the future. Both of these factors place challenges on the church with respect to its outreach. The village hall was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (of Portmeirion fame). Bishopstone, Sedrup and Hartwell, the three closest hamlets, are all dependent on Stone to some extent. The whole area offers miles of pleasant country walks and active sporting, community and other societies. These communities have a strong sense of identity with an active commitment to their parish; some measures of this are the organization of the very successful annual Dinton Fete and the gift of the Millennium window in the church. Stone and Dinton with Hartwell is one parish with two active church buildings. For more information on its activities, please visit www.stonedintonhartwell.com.
St Mary the Virgin, Hartwell
The church, set in the grounds of Hartwell House, is now just a shell and not used for services.
The Parish and its Membership
We have an enthusiastic congregation with a good mix of ages and people willing to lead or contribute to services and church ministries, such as leading public prayer, participating in the prayer chain, pastoral care visiting and schools work. We have a good range of modern and traditional services including monthly evensong, BCP/CW communion, and all age services. Services currently alternate weekly between each church building. There is also an annual open air evensong at Hartwell where the Church of the Assumption is situated, now looked after by Churches Conservation Trust. There is a strong musical tradition with an established choir for special festivals and a band of bell ringers who ring at Dinton before services and at weddings. We have a core of regular attenders and a large pool of people who either attend infrequently or know people who do. We believe we have a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for all ages, attracting people from the villages and beyond. We also enjoy an excellent relationship with Stone Methodist Chapel with annual Christian Unity and Christian Aid services together as well as fifth Sunday shared services.
The following is a list of regular services or activities which have support from the wider communities of Stone and Dinton and their hamlets and are opportunities for outreach:
Church party Pancake Day Good Friday Walk of Witness
Christian Aid Service Patronal Festivals Harvest lunch
Remembrance Sunday Christmas Bazaar Crib service
Fetes Parachuting teddy bears Schools services
Concerts Coffee mornings Flower Festivals
Stone and Dinton lead a monthly ‘Living Stones’ afternoon that is similar to Messy Church. There are regular All Age services and activities for children. Dinton supports a lunchtime club at the junior site of Cuddington and Dinton School on Fridays.
The church has a wardens/ministry group which meets regularly to facilitate the running of the church. Membership includes the Rector, wardens, LLM and Authorised Preachers.
The church of St John Baptist, Stone stands on an artificial mound (perhaps an ancient barrow?) in the centre of the village. The Grade II* listed building was consecrated in 1273, but the earliest part dates from 1135. The tower and south porch were added in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and restoration and alterations were carried out in the nineteenth. The Norman font was given to the church in 1873 and is decorated with mythical animals and figures the significance of which many people have tried and failed to explain. In the floor of the nave are found the Gurney brasses. For a long time the Lee family of Hartwell held the patronage of the church but it was presented in 1965 to the Grocers’ Company.
Various changes were made to the interior in the 1980s and then in 2008 an overhead electric heating system was installed after a very successful fundraising appeal. A sound reinforcement system is now in place, funded primarily by a bursary from the Grocers Company (the joint Patrons). There is a peal of six bells (presently classified as unringable), and an electronic organ. The building is sound with no major problems. Discussion is ongoing regarding the installation of toilets and a kitchen. The churchyard is closed for burials and is only used for interment of ashes and existing family plots.
St Peter & St Paul, Dinton is a Grade I listed building with, to quote Bishop Alan’s blog, ‘one of the finest outlooks in England’. The building of the church commenced about 1140 on the site of Saxon Church and the list of vicars starts in 1209. The church has a 13th Century chancel with a wide 15th Century nave and south aisle with an exceptionally fine Norman south doorway and tympanum. The tower was started about 1340 and incorporates a 13th Century doorway. There are some fine memorials which include hatchments and brasses, and these form a picture-gallery of fashion from the 15th Century to the 17th Century. They include the brass memorial to Simon Mayne whose son was a signatory to the death warrant of Charles I. A project to restore the six bells and strengthen the 16th Century frame was successfully completed in 2000. Recent additions are a Millennium window, a gift from the people of the parish and three embroidered panels of the parish of Dinton created by parishioners. The church has a capacity of approximately 175. There is a Hill two-manual pipe organ with a tracker action. The church recently raised £150,000 for the toilet and kitchenette project now in place which extends and enhances the church’s use as a community amenity for concerts and events.
Further information about Stone and Dinton with Hartwell, can be found at these locations: