PROGRAMME for THE STONES OF IFFLEY, a 3-day feast of talks, walks and stone-carving.

27 September 2019 @ 10:00 am – 29 September 2019 @ 5:45 pm
Iffley Church and Church Hall
Church Way
Oxford OX4 4EJ
Penny Tyack
07813 69266




The construction of St Mary’s Church, Iffley, began more than 150 million years ago. The limestone of which it is built was formed during the Jurassic Period. It is composed of the remains of living creatures and plants: oysters, ammonites, scallops, sea urchins, corrals, algae and the roots of swamp plants. Look closely and you can see shell fragments buried in some of these ‘living stones’ with your naked eye. Our church is built from creatures who were alive when Oxfordshire lay near the equator and was washed by the waves of the sea.



       Carvings around Iffley Church





Friday 27 September

10.00-12.00, at Iffley Church and Churchyard, The Stones of Iffley Church and Graveyard, explained by geologist, Philip Powell. Tickets £10. Numbers limited, please book in advance.

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14.00-19.00, at Sculptor’s studio, Cumnor, START OF STONE-CARVING COURSE. Places on the course are limited. Cost £175 includes entry to all events taking place during the weekend.

SOLD OUT. To join the waiting list please contact

14.00-19.00 Visit to stone-carver’s studio. Visitors are welcome to drop in and see round the studio with Alex Wenham, stone-carver. Tickets £10. Numbers limited, please book in advance.

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Saturday 28 September

ALL DAY in the Churchyard at Iffley Church. STONE-CARVING COURSE with tutors: Alex Wenham, Richard Martin, Royse Murphy, Maya Martin

09.30-10.30, A close look at Iffley’s sculptures with professional stone carvers. Tickets £10. Numbers limited, please book in advance.

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7.30-9.00 pm in Iffley Church Hall, Talk on conservation of historic stonework, Alex Wenham and Richard Martin. Tickets £10. Numbers limited, please book in advance.

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Sunday 29 September

ALL DAY in the Churchyard at Iffley Church. STONE-CARVING COURSE.

2.00-3.30 Walking tour of stonework in Oxford, Geoffrey Tyack, architectural historian, Philip Powell, geologist. Starts and finishes at the University Museum, Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3PW. Tickets £10. Numbers limited, please book in advance.

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3.30-4.15 in Iffley Church Hall, Exhibition of work by stone-carving course participants.


4.30-5.30 in Iffley Church Hall, ‘God’s carvings: my work as a sculptor’, Talk by Nicholas Mynheer. Tickets £10. Numbers limited, please book in advance.

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Read more

As we discover The Stones of Iffley over the last weekend in September, we will

  • glimpse fossilised organisms with Philip Powell, geologist, and learn about the mind-bending processes that formed our church’s stones;
  • look closely at the stonework of the church, learning how it was carved, how it has survived so long, how we can look after it and – not least – what it may have meant to Iffley’s worshippers when it was new;
  • appreciate the skills of the stone-carvers who worked here 850 years ago. We will learn from a team of modern-day professionals using tools that are almost identical to those used by their 12th century predecessors;
  • explore ways in which stone has been used historically in buildings in Oxford, and in Iffley where contemporary sculptor, Nicholas Mynheer, has created our beautiful aumbry.

At the heart of the programme will be a STONE-CARVING COURSE. This is for complete beginners as well as people with some previous experience. Tutors on the course are stone-carvers Alex Wenham, Richard Martin, Royse Murphy and Maya Martin. The 850-year-old hand-carved sculptures on Iffley Church will be our inspiration. Soft limestone, basic hand tools and expert teaching will be provided. A small group of 8 students will be introduced to the world of stone-carving at Alex Wenham’s studio in Cumnor on Friday afternoon. On Saturday and Sunday they will work in the churchyard, creating a brand-new Romanesque arch, perhaps inspired by our extraordinary 12th-century beakhead carvings.

Visitors are welcome at all times to watch the course participants at work, and to immerse themselves in all the eye-opening activities that will be taking place over the STONES weekend.

Copy of 12C lion from Iffley Church by Royse Murphy 2017

Participation in the STONE-CARVING COURSE is for pre-booked applicants only, due to health and safety requirements. Fee for the whole 3-day course is £175.

Visitors are welcome to observe the students as they work on the stone-carving course free of charge. Pre-booking is recommended for all other events throughout the weekend as numbers are limited.  Tickets for single events £10.


Saturday 21 September: Lecture by Tim Tatton-Brown on The architectural use of marble in medieval England to the Friends of St Mary’s. This will take place in Iffley Church Hall at 3pm.


Alex Wenham will welcome participants in the stone-carving course to visit his workshop by arrangement during the week following the course. They will have the opportunity to continue their work. He will offer guidance, tools and workspace.

Richard Martin will mentor apprentices who have completed the 3-day course and wish to gain work experience with him with a view to embarking on a career in masonry and stone-carving.

Book online for all events

For events that have SOLD OUT, please contact Penny (below) to join the waiting list. For more information please contact

Penny Tyack, Activities Co-ordinator, Living Stones at Iffley

07813 692866