St John the Baptist, Stone in the parish of Stone, Dinton and Hartwell
Stone with Bishopstone, Sedrup and Hartwell has a total population of 2,587. Whilst close to Aylesbury the busy A418 runs through the centre of the village.
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) and well used. 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 lively sporting, community and other societies. These communities have a strong sense of identity with an active commitment to their parish.
Stone and Dinton with Hartwell is one parish with two functioning 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 looked after by Churches Conservation Trust. The building cannot be used for services, but an annual outdoor Evensong is held each September in the shadow of the church and very much appreciated by those who attend.
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.
Our worship is a good range of modern and traditional all age and communion services. Services at Stone are weekly at 10.30am, with a 9am BCP Matins on the fourth Sunday. Dinton have morning services at 10am on the first and 3rd Sunday and Messy church at 4pm on the 4th Sunday, as well as the parish BCP Evensong at 6pm on the second Sunday of the month.
There is a strong musical tradition with two organists and an established choir of eighteen led by the church’s principal organist. This is based in Stone but sing at both Stone and Dinton for special services and festivals, and are requested for many 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 sharing annual Christian Unity and Christian Aid services together as well as regular fifth Sunday services.
With a recent influx of families with young children we will be relaunching a Sunday school in spring 2020, which will run during the morning 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:
Good Friday Walk of Witness Joint Christian Aid Service with the Methodists
Patronal Festivals Harvest Festival
Remembrance Sunday Christmas Crib Service
Village Fete Parachuting Teddy Bears
Schools Services Café in the Park
Concerts Flower Festivals,
Open Gardens Open the Book, School Assemblies
Thy Kingdom Come initiative National Prayer Weekend Posada
Café in the Park is a monthly café held in the Jubilee Pavilion on the recreation ground, normally the first Saturday of the month. Here you can find old and new friends and share in conversations whilst enjoying a free bacon butty and a cup of tea or ‘real’ coffee. Donations are always gratefully received.
The church in Stone is led by the Associate Rector, Churchwardens, LLM and Authorised Preachers.
The church has a joint PCC with Dinton church that meets 4 times a year plus the APCM meeting.
The SJB committee meets every month on the 4th Wednesday to facilitate the running of the church. This committee is made up of the associate rector, churchwardens and Stone members of the PCC along with other members of the church. We have a separate church fabric committee and a joint financial committee.
The two Churchwardens and associate rector meet together regularly.
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.
A long-term project to install toilets and a kitchenette in the church has recently received both DAC approval as well as local government approval. It is hoped that work will start in the spring of 2020.
Further information about Stone and Dinton with Hartwell, can be found at these locations: