The west lawn of Iffley churchyard sprang into life as a stone-carvers’ yard for three days at the end of September. It rang with the busy tap-tap-tapping of mallets and chisels, just as it must have done 850 years ago when the church was being built. Now we have a brand-new stone arch at St Mary’s! Nine new voussoirs have been crafted by a class of complete beginners under the eyes of our army of Romanesque beakheads and four professional stone-carvers. The finished arch will be exhibited for you to see on Sunday 16thFebruary. For more details see www.iffleychurch.org.uk/living-stones/events/ Don’t miss it!

Hundreds of people joined the 3-day celebration of THE STONES OF IFFLEY at the end of September. While the new beakheads were emerging, visitors learned about different aspects of the stones of our church and churchyard. Specialist guides revealed the geological secrets of the building, the working world of the 12thcentury craftsmen, the stories of the stone and its decorative features in some of Oxford’s historic buildings, the hazards and wonders of working in the conservation of historic stone, and Nicholas Mynheer, creator of Iffley’s aumbry, traced the inspiration behind his work. 

The weekend was quite a remarkable event. What a phenomenal resource of expertise at the highest level! And what a fascinating and well-organised mix of events.’ 

‘I did not think it would be this magical, amazing, thought-provoking, stimulating, informative, truly enjoyable, and so imaginatively organized. I mean, to start with the geology talk was just a stroke of genius.

‘Trying to carve this small stone bird in the sight of the church you do feel a contact with the craftsmen of 1160 which is an amazing privilege.’ 

‘I really hope I can take it [the newly-learned stone-carving skill] forward in some way. It really is interesting and it really does stimulate your creativity. It’s a lot different than I am used to. It’s really exciting. You meet new people, you work stone, it’s a really fun experience.’

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this thrilling enterprise: stone-carvers Alex Wenham, Richard Martin, Maya Martin and Royse Murphy, geologist Philip Powell, architectural historian Geoffrey Tyack, sculptor and artist Nicholas Mynheer, all the stone-carving students and enthusiastic visitors, and all the Living Stones volunteers. 

We are always looking for new volunteers! Would YOU like to join our team? Please talk to Penny 07813 692866 ptyack.livingstones@gmail.com 

Penny Tyack

Living Stones Activities Co-ordinator