St Andrew’s Church, South Stoke, was built in the early 1200s although it is believed there may have been an earlier church. It is one of the most beautiful churches in the district with a large and well-kept churchyard. The Parish of South Stoke cum Woodcote is believed to have been founded in Anglo-Saxon times, possibly by St. Birinus. In 1984 South Stoke became a separate parish in The United Benefice of Goring with South Stoke.
The church is built of local flint rubble with stone dressings and comprises a nave, north and south aisles, south porch, vestry and a western tower. It occupies a prominent position in the village, which has about 450 residents. The two lancet windows in the north wall and south aisle are from the earliest period. Since the church’s foundation there have been many alterations and restorations. The east window was installed in 1875 and depicts the patron saint, St. Andrew, standing to the right of Our Lord with his brother, St. Peter, standing to the left.
The church contains some interesting memorials. On the north wall of the chancel there is a fine 17th century memorial in Latin for Dr. Griffiths Higgs, formerly Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia and Dean of Lichfield. He founded a charity which continues today. More details of the Griffith Higgs memorial can be found here. The war memorial was erected in 1920 and the clock was also installed in that year. The lych-gate was built in 1937.
Both the clock and lych-gate are in memory of previous incumbents of the parish. Floodlighting was installed in 1999 in order to herald the new millennium.
In 2013, after a village wide appeal, there was a mini-reordering project at the back of the church, in which some pews were removed and a servery was installed, making space for coffee and meetings. Also a disabled toilet was installed in the vestry.
Up to the mid-20th century South Stoke was an agricultural village. In 1366 there were 32 tenant landholders. In Victorian times there were 11 farms. Today, while the village retains its agricultural connections, it is largely a dormitory village for people working in the surrounding districts and London, and for the retired.
A great history, and still an active church
St Andrew’s is part of the United Benefice of Goring & Streatley with South Stoke.
The Sunday services are at 11.15 am, and are mostly of the traditional form. The usual pattern is:
1st Sunday A Special Family Service
2nd Sunday Holy Communion BCP
3rd Sunday Matins
4th Sunday Holy Communion (Order I)
5th Sunday United Benefice Service. This alternates between the 3 churches of the Benefice.
First Tues of the month at 2.30 pm
9.30am every Friday
Third Wed. of month at 10.30 am -12.00 noon
The church has a ring of six good bells. Bells are rung for Sunday services (10.45 – 11:15 am), weddings and funerals. Practices are on Thursdays at 7.45 – 9:00pm. Anyone interested in bell ringing at St. Andrews is very welcome at any time, whether inexperienced, experienced or visiting. Contact Robert Small (01491 873 897). The bell ringers also have a Facebook page where you can find out more about their activities.
South Stoke, Oxon, RG8 0JS
Vicar: The Rev’d Ben Phillips
Goring, Oxon. RG8 9DR
Assistant Priest: The Rev’d Liz Dowding
Assistant Curate: Wendy Middleton
Licensed Lay Ministers: Judith Aguda & Judith Hogg