‘A Little More for Littlemore’
The Blairs’ walk for Littlemore: From Winchester to Canterbury, August 2019
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We are hoping that you will consider supporting us in a project about which we feel passionately. We are walking along the old Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury during 13 days this summer to raise money to bring new community facilities to Littlemore. Where?
Littlemore is a neglected suburb, three miles south of central Oxford, across the ring road, on the other side of the tracks, as it were, in their modern guise.
It is one of the least well-off areas of Oxford, as indicated on many of the most recent results for indices of deprivation. 30% of its children are living in poverty; 36% of households with children are headed by lone parents; 40% of over 60’s are considered to be income-deprived; one of the four local wards in Littlemore is recorded as having the highest national indicator for loneliness among over-65 year olds. 26% of working adults in Littlemore have no educational or other qualification.
Apart from two pubs, there are no communal drop-in facilities, not even a café. By contrast, there are four cafés and five restaurants in or next to our short high street in North Oxford, five miles away from Littlemore.
In the middle of Littlemore is the Anglican church of St Mary and St Nicholas. The congregation have a plan to transform the church into being exactly the communal meeting place that Littlemore needs (including a café!), while remaining a church. And that is what this appeal is about.
Littlemore has history, like most of Oxford. This is no ordinary run of the mill church: this is the church that John Henry Newman built in the 1830’s as part of his mission to the poor of Oxford, to be run alongside his main parish church, grandest of the grand, St Mary the Virgin – the University Church - on Oxford High, where Littlemore’s poor would certainly have felt uncomfortable (now, St Mary the Virgin is vigorously supporting the general building appeal).
What makes Littlemore church so significant is that what John Henry Newman decided to build was the first Gothic style church in England since the Reformation. It was deliberately and immensely controversial at the time, but it became the archetype for the way churches were to be built thereafter throughout Britain and the Anglican-influenced world.
It was at this church that Newman gave his last sermon, entitled ‘The Parting of Friends’, before leaving Anglicanism to join the Catholic Church, the seismic moment of the Oxford Movement. It has poignancy, it is listed, it has history.
This autumn, Cardinal Newman will become the first English person to be canonised as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church since Tudor times.
While that is happening, his church in Littlemore, although architecturally and historically so important, is really in a very sorry state. Its walls are stained and damaged: it has no in-built heating and it has no running water or toilet. Yet it still gives daily breakfasts or lunches to its community.
Nevertheless, the church congregation is now full of hope. It has set itself the task of raising £622,000 to transform itself. Astonishingly, it is already more than halfway to that target.
As one part of the plan, stabilising the plasterwork and repainting the church interior alone will cost approximately £40,000. We have pledged to try to raise at least £13,000 towards this particular part of the restoration by walking every day for 13 days from July 31st along the Pilgrims Way. It is 135 miles. We seek to raise about £1000 per day or £100 per mile or £50 per half mile. We arrive in Canterbury on 11th August, the anniversary of John Henry Newman’s death.
Littlemore was poor when Newman founded his church and it is still poor, even though it is part of a world heritage city. It is where the Victorians built their asylum. It is that kind of place but it is full of determination, energy and hope.
Can you help us – in which case our sincere thanks!
It is very easy to do. Just press the donate link at the top of this message. Please do not forget to add Gift Aid if that is appropriate. The Littlemore PCC is a registered charity.
If you wish to find out more about what is happening to the main project, the site is Newman Meeting Place
If you would prefer just to make a BACS transfer, then that should be to the Littlemore PCC Appeal Account, sort code 20-65-18, account number 80559261 or by cheque made payable to 'Littlemore PCC Appeal Account' and sent to c/o Rev Margreet Armitstead, The Vicarage, St Nicholas Road, Littlemore, Oxford, OX44PP. In either case, please identify the donation as being to the Newman Walk appeal.
A little more for Littlemore would make such a difference.
Ian and Felicity Blair