There are two churches in Ashbury, St Mary The Virgin Parish Church and the Ashbury Evangelical Free Church; they work together closely and hold joint services and events.

As a result of extensive searches of the archives, initially by Peter Knott, and more recently by Leonie Knott and Margaret Smith, a plaque setting out the names of Vicars and Rectors appointed to St Mary’s Church, Ashbury from 1317 to 2000 has been placed at the Church in memory of Rev Dr Michael Starr. A copy may be viewed here.

The Evangelical Free Church celebrated its centenary in 2009; click here to read a booklet published to mark this important event and click here to see some of the old photographs that were displayed at the time.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Ashbury

Ashbury Evangelical Free Church (copyright Diane McLaren)

Ashbury Evangelical Free Church  (copyright Diane McLaren)

The Shrivenham & Ashbury Benefice is situated in the Vale of the White Horse and is part of the Oxford Diocese. It is comprised of seven villages:

  • Shrivenham
  • Ashbury
  • Watchfield
  • Bourton
  • Longcot
  • Fernham
  • Compton Beauchamp

 Clergy, Lay Ministers, Wardens and Elders

Benefice Clergy
    (from September 2019)
Lay Minister

Lord Rodney Elton

Richard Fergusson

01793 710225

01793 710055

Church Wardens of Ashbury Parish Church
 Maggie Simons  01793 710801
Elders of Ashbury Evangelical Free Church
David Howlett 01793 740180
Andrew Bunce 01793 710785

Trustees of Ashbury Evangelical Free Church

Rita Bunce (Chair) 01793 790181
Mark Gillingham 01793 791442
Peter Reade 01793710306
Andrew Bunce 01793 710785
Suzanne Bunce, David Howlett, Wendy Howlett, Paul Williams 01793 710785;     01793 740180; 01793 740180;     01793 542111

Treasurer of Ashbury Evangelical Free Church

Treasurer: Suzanne Bunce 01793 710785

Contacts for Ashbury Evangelical Free Church

Main contact for the Free Church: Andrew Bunce 01793 710785
Contact for Coffee Afternoons:  Suzanne Bunce 01793 710785

Service Times in Ashbury

  • Service times for the Shrivenham and Ashbury Benefice may be found on the Shrivenham web site.
  • Service times for St Mary’s Church, Ashbury are as follows:
2019    Services held at Ashbury unless otherwise indicated
Ashbury Services are at 11.00am each Sunday, except N.B. Benefice Service 21st at Compton: (St Swinthuns Patronal Festival) 10.30am
 Compton: on July 7th. Patronal Festival on 21st at 10.30am
 Longcot: 4.30pm on July 7th. Joint  Service at Shrivenham 9.30am on 14th and 28th. 6pm on 21st

Fernham 4.30pm on July 7th Joint Service at Shrivenham. 9.00am on 14th, 6pm on 28th.

 The Craven Chapel is always open for prayer and for some time there have been 3 pebbles available to place on the alter as a sign that someone has been praying there. The pebbles are prayed on Thursdays at the 8am Morning Prayer.
 The Ashbury prayer cycle for July will be: Wixes Piece, 14th, Ashbury Hill, 21st, Berrycroft 28th, Berrycroft Lane.
 Services Held at Ashbury Evangelical Free Church

Communion Service 14th July, Tea & Chat Wednesdays 3rd & 17th July  2.15pm.  Everyone Welcome.


St Mary’s Ashbury and Free Church Covenant

On 24 May 2011 members of St Mary’s PCC and the Free Church met under the chairmanship of the Revd Richard Hancock to discuss future joint services and to agree the wording of a Covenant which would express the unity and intent of the two Churches. It is noteworthy that this covenant formalises what has existed over many years. Lent services, Harvest Thanksgivings and Christmas services have brought the two Churches together in happy fellowship. More recently joint working has been further augmented by Café Church meetings. In the days that the Methodist Chapel existed a series of Autumn meetings took place in the Chapel for a number of years. These were led by the three congregations. Fragmentaion within “The Church” has been an unhappy feature for centuries so it is good to demonstrate that the oneness of the Body of Christ does not depend on any one form of worship.

The Covenant has recently been renewed for a further 5 years as from 18 September 2016. Click here to read it.

Ashbury Parochial Church Council

The Parochial Church Council or PCC is the executive body of a Church of England Parish. It consists of the clergy and churchwardens of the Parish, plus a number of representatives of the laity. It is responsible, in co-operation with the incumbent vicar, for promoting the mission of the Church within its Parish; this includes the financial affairs of the Church and the care and maintenance of the Church fabric and its contents. Contact: PCC Secretary – 710801

PCC Membership 2019
Roger Simons (Secretary)
James Reade (Treasurer)
Dickie Green
Judy Clarke
 Richard Fergusson
Clare McGlashan
Sue Reade
Gail Loose
 Maggie Simons (Church Warden)

Church Activities

Bell Ringers ensure that the bells at St Mary’s Church are rung regularly. Volunteers are needed and training is available. Contact: Susie & Allister Godfrey (

Bible Studies are organised by the Free Church on Wednesdays at 7.30pm. Joint study groups meet during Lent and in the Autumn. Venues are published in Church Notices.

Breakfast Groups

Men’s Breakfasts:  these are held on the last Saturday of the month in Ashbury Village Hall. Everyone is welcome, the conversation is great and the English breakfast is free – we just ask for a donation if you can. Contact Norma on 710055 so that enough food can be provided.

Breakfast Bible Study: these are held on the first Saturday of each month the;  group will meet to look at the readings for the first Sunday of the following month and discuss them over a simple breakfast. The first meeting will be on 26 September 2015 at St Mary’s House, Ashbury at 8.00am. Everyone welcome. Please call Norma or Richard on 710055 for more details or to confirm attendance.

Shrivenham Bereavement Support Group –  If you have suffered a bereavement and want somewhere you can speak freely and find support and new ideas to help you in your grief, this is an inclusive, safe, supportive group for anyone with or without a faith. St Andrews Church Vestry 10.45-12.30 Tuesday Sept 25th 2019 for 6 weeks. Contact Norma 017937 10055  or email: or Rose-Anne  01793 784017 or email:

Exploring the Christian Faith – an Alpha course is run from time to time in Shrivenham as a benefice/joint with Methodist activitity.

Friends of Ashbury Church devise a variety of creative activities to raise funds towards the upkeep and restoration of our historic church. Contact: 710208

A Special Choir is formed for Christmas and other special events. New members are welcomed. Contact: 710208

‘Tea & Chat’  afternoons are held at the Free Church on Wednesdays at 2.15pm – everyone welcome.  This month it is 3rd and 17th  July.

Flower Arranging in St Mary’s – Maggie Simons (710801)



 The 2015 Christmas Bazaar raised £1417.43 towards St Mary’s Church – thank you to everyone who contributed.

Cricket – On 2nd May 2011 the Ashbury St. Mary’s cricket team won the United Churches Six-A-Side cricket tournament at Sevenhampton, taking on teams from churches all around the Swindon area. They took the trophy by crushing Rodbourne St. Mary’s in the final. Thanks go to Stewart Smith, the captain, who through experience, skill and enthusiasm steered the team to this historic victory. Edwin Clements, seen holding the trophy, was wicket keeper on the day; he not only stumped out a member of the opposition, but ran another opponent out too. Not bad for someone who had not played cricket for over twenty years!

Copyright Margaret Smith

5th July 2014 Safari Supper

On Saturday 5th July a group of 31 people from Ashbury, Kingston Winslow, Bishopstone, Wanborough and even visitors from the USA enjoyed a fantastic evening at the Safari Supper. We raised £305 for the St Mary’s Church fund for ongoing maintenance.

30 November 2013 – St Mary’s Church Christmas Bazaar – in the Village Hall

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this occasion – which is our main fund raising event of the year. We made a staggering £1,633.66 for St Mary’s Church.

Bhutan Evening – 23 March 2013 in the Village Hall.

On Saturday 23 March, 54 people were given a taste of Bhutan – a country rich in natural beauty, colour and tradition. Jenny Greaves gave an illustrated talk about her experiences, and we learned that she had completed the Bhuthan Himalaya Snowman Trek and had a marriage ceremony in Bhutan.  Many thanks to all who helped raise £379.45 for St Mary’s Church.

St Mary’s Church Christmas Bazaar – held on Saturday 24th November 2012 in the Village Hall

Once again we were unlucky with the weather but yet again a lot of people braved the elements and the afternoon was a very pleasant social occasion as well as raising £1,413 for the church. .

St Mary’s Church Christmas Bazaar – held on Saturday 26th November 2011 in the Village Hall

Fortunately the weather was fine and the villagers turned out. The total raised was a magnificent £1,544.70, about £70 less than last year but amazing in the present economic climate. We are very grateful to everyone who donated things to sell, manned stalls or just came and spent.

How the French Eat – held on 22 October 2011

Over 70 people attended this event. The evening started with Marie-Noelle Witty talking about her own first-hand experiences of French food and customs. After the talk attendees enjoyed sampling French food prepared by Ashbury ladies to Marie-Noelle’s recipes. This event raised just over £500 for St Mary’s Church funds.

Late Summer Concert – Saturday 3rd September 2011

Ashbury resident Yvette Cummings, a renowned soprano, accompanied by Travis Baker an international organ recitalist, delighted an audience of 100 people with a mixed programme of classical songs, popular arias and more. Several of those who attended took part in a quiz which was won by Philip Brown; his prize – a bottle of champagne – was donated by Yvette.  This event enabled the Church to raise significant funds towards its annual costs.

Stations of the Nativity – December 2012

This is a traditional event that takes place in Ashbury just before Christmas every year. The parishioners gather at the Cross Roads for an evening torch light procession through the village singing hymns and re-enacting the Christmas Story. There is a collection afterwards for the Salvation Army. The following photographs are reproduced courtesy of Maggie Simons.

Ashbury Christmas Bazaar 27th November 2010

The annual Christmas Bazaar followed the usual format and the weather stayed fine during the afternoon despite snow and ice earlier. To everyone’s delight we raised a significant sum for St Mary’s Church.

Ashbury Manor Family Barn Dance in aid of St Mary’s Church – 25th September 2010

Another very successful harvest barn dance was held on the 25th September in the newly restored barn at the Manor by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Prentice and made £200 for St Mary’s Church. Dancers of all ages, joining in and all enthusiastically to music by the trio “Jugged Hare”.

Ashbury Flower Festival & Display of Wedding Dresses through the Ages, 11th – 13th June 2010

The Flower Arranging Workshop in St Mary’s Church on 11 June attracted 28 participants from many surrounding villages, Faringdon and even Swindon. View photographs. Novices were paired up with those having previous experience and all made a pew end, plus either a pedestal or a cascade arrangement.  The church looked absolutely magnificent when all the floral creations had been sited amidst wedding dresses that spanned the 18th century to the present day. In most cases the dresses were accompanied by wedding photographs of couples married in Ashbury in the same decade; some showed up to three generations from the same family.

On 12 June the Church was open to the public for viewing; 196 people attended between 10.00am and 6.00pm. An evening concert by the Wantage Male Voice Choir attracted an appreciative audience of around 85, who took the opportunity to view the flowers and dresses during the interval. The choir conductor cleverly weaved the ‘love and marriage’ theme into the programme of music.

Morning Communion service at St Mary’s on 13 June was attended by visitors from Swindon and other local villages who also looked round the displays. The Church then re-opened for public viewing from 12noon till 3.00pm. A renewal of marriage vows service followed and the church bells were rung at the end of the service. As people stepped out of the church their photos were taken beneath the archway, which had been beautifully decorated with flowers. Everyone then made their way to the Village Hall for a cream tea, prepared by Ashbury ladies. Meanwhile the Church was re-opened to the public until 5.00pm. A total of 163 people visited the displays that day.

The event generated a magnificent profit of over £1,100 for St Mary’s Church. Special thanks go to Margaret Smith for conceiving and co-ordinating the flower festival and to her willing support team who ensured that everything ran so smoothly and successfully.

Further Reading

A Pilgrims Guide to the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin Ashbury is an illustrated guide to our historic church (click here)

Welcome to St Mary the Virgin Ashbury and Ashbury Evangelical Free Church (click here)

Ashbury 1988 gives a valuable historical account of the Parish Church and Manor House; it was written by Peter Knott, a former resident of the village and knowledgeable historian. Profits made from the sale of the brochure go to the Church Restoration Fund. Contact: 710333. You will find the brochure on the Archives page

Interesting Facts about the Church and Parish of Ashbury written by he Rev. A Fosbroke-Hobbs MA, vicar from 1921 to 1934 may also be read on the Archives page (click here).

Ashbury Evangelical Free Church Centenary Celebrations Booklet 1908 – 2009 compiled and edited by Suzanne Bunce can be found on the Archives page (click here).

The Ashbury, Compton, Longcot & Fernham Newsletter is issued monthly; it includes Church calendars, Benefice news, details of various courses, study groups, and meetings, articles about country matters and dates of forthcoming social events (Contact: 710302).

Please take a look at the Historical Background pages and the Archives pages where you will find more photographs and information about our Churches.

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