On the Sunday after Candlemas, Fingest Church is open to groups of ramblers who break up their walks around the Chilterns with an opportunity for a break in the warm and dry to eat their lunch or snack and have a cup of tea and cake. The day is organised and the groups are booked at decent intervals by my friend J, who has organised the villagers to bake the most delicious cakes and make the teas with her admirable efficiency. This year, I helped and made Ottolenghi’s carrot cake and my Mum’s chocolate cake to contribute to the vast array of cakes on display.
Many of the walkers had been talking about their favourite cakes from last year on their way and were thrilled to see Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake with mascarpone icing as well as a gluten free cake and cheese scones for preferring a savoury option. The cakes were replenished as the day went on and over £500 was raised for the restoration and upkeep of this old church which doesn’t receive any money from the diocese.
I sneaked a break outside and thought how quintessentially English the village and the church are, with snowdrops growing by an old flint wall, primroses planted round a gravestone, and a clear winter blue sky which made Candlemas feel like a special celebration.
Grade 1 listed with 12 th century tower
This famous church sits at the centre of a historic village.
Surrounded by brick and flint churchyard walls, lined with ancient lime trees, the church can be seen from the surrounding hills. It is listed Grade 1 which is classified as being of exceptional interest.
The massive western Norman tower was built early in the 12th centuryand has unusual twin gables – it is believed that only one other similar construction exists in the country.
Each side of the bell chamber has paired openings with semi-circular roll moulded arches. The tower once held two bells, only one of which remains, dating from 1830.
The chancel has two chamfered lancet windows to the north wall, two restored fifteenth century two- light traceried windows to the south, and a 14th century “Decorated” style window to the east. The church also has a reworked 15th century octagonal font with traceried panels.
There are smaller openings lower down the tower, and a 13th century traceried window to the west. The tower is wider than the nave. These two made up the original church with the chancel added in the 13th Century.
The nave has impressive ancient woodwork to the roof, with five sets of principle rafters with collar beams supported by curved brackets and wind braces.
The exterior of the church is roughcast and rendered a mellow ochre.
where they now hold the Garsington opera,
A famous cricket pitch and open so the public can go round as detailed here
Ibex’s annual extra walk to take in Fingest’s Walkers’ Cafe sees a variation on the route this coming February. Open once a year in the village church on the Sunday after Candlemas, the massed ranks of excellent bakers in the village demonstrate their baking finest with cakes galore. These are served to walking groups along with hot drinks and the walkers are welcome to eat their packed lunches in the dry and warmth of the church, nicely decorated with midwinter greenery and candles.Lewknor, aka junction 6 on the M40 (it is also possible to park on the verge there near where the bus stops).the Wormsley Estate (nicely preserved by the landowners, the Getty family, you may have heard of them) into quintessential Chiltern countryside and we’ll eat our packed lunches at Fingest church, leaving room for their much sought-after cakes. A slightly different route will take us back to junction 6 in time,