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Historic Church Trail for Olympic Visitors

by Michael Ford last modified 11 Jun, 2012 09:08 AM

The Bishop of Sherborne, Dr Graham Kings, will lead a two-part service at Whitchurch Canonicorum and the nearby Healing Well on Sunday 1 July (beginning 10am) and travel the route of ‘Seeking Gold’, a new Pilgrimage trail in Dorset celebrating the 2012 Olympic Games.

Historic Church Trail for Olympic Visitors

Lavender Buckland, who devised the Pilgrimage

Bishop Kings will travel by car before walking the 'Priests' Way' between Swanage and St Aldhelm’s Chapel. The public are welcome to join in for the walking stage.

The Revd James Stephenson, a world champion triathlete, will swim, cycle and run the entire 92-mile route during the course of the day, and will visit each of the ten churches featured on the way.

Attractions en route include Saxon wall paintings, a pulpit with bullet holes, Lawrence of Arabia’s grave and twelve life-size apostles.

Dr Kings said, “The world is coming to Dorset in July, and this is a chance for our Dorset parishes to shine and provide a welcome to casual visitors, travellers in need of a break and spiritual pilgrims. The free brochure connects all ten historic churches on the trail.”

Mr Stephenson said, "It will be great to combine two major aspects of my life at the moment; sport and church. It's nice to combine a challenge and the pilgrimage and I'm looking forward to visiting the churches and taking in the beautiful scenery of the Diocese."

The Pilgrimage has been devised by Lavender Buckland, a parishioner from Chalke Valley. She said, “It’s a wonderful way to discover Dorset during the Games. Visitors can take time out to go off the beaten track and discover hidden gems in our local churches. Everyone involved is delighted to be ‘Seeking Gold’ on the Pilgrimage Trail!"

There will be Twitter coverage throughout the day using the hashtag ‘#seekinggold’.

The pilgrimage route will continue after the Games.


The ‘Priests' Way’ is an ancient walk from Swanage to Worth Matravers.

Main timings for the day:
9.30am: Photos and interviews at Whitchurch Canonicorum, DT6 6RQ
              James Stephenson arrives after swim
10.00am: Service part one at Whitchurch Canonicorum
10.30am: Service part two at the nearby Healing Well. James Stephenson departs
11:45am: Prayers at Tolpuddle, DT2 7EW
12:30pm: Picnic on Old Bowling Green, Wareham, BH20
2pm: The start of the Priests’ Way from Swanage Bay View Caravan Park, BH19 2QS
5pm: Concluding Service at St Aldhelm Chapel, St Aldhelm’s Head, BH19 3LN

Timings for James Stephenson: spending 7 minutes in each church
9.30-10.00am: arrives after swim to Whitchurch Canonicorum, DT6 6RQ
10.30am: leaves Whitchurch Canonicorum
10.39-10.46am at North Chideok, DT9 6LF
11.25-1132am at Abbotsbury, DT3 4HB
12.26-12.33pm at Tolpuddle, DT2 7EW
12.54-1.01pm at Moreton, DT2 8RH
1.25-1.32pm at Bere Regis, BH20 7HQ
2.08-2.15pm at Wimborne, BH21 1EB
2.57-3.04pm at Wareham, BH20 4HE
3.31-3.38pm at Studland, BH19 3AT
3.48pm arrives in Swanage Bay View Caravan Park, BH19 2QS: changes into running kit
3.58pm: leaves Swanage
4.40pm: arrives at St Aldhelm's Head, BH19 3LN, for the concluding Service 

The official ‘Seeking Gold’ page
Bishop of Sherborne’s page
Twitter feed (Sunday 1 July only)

Further information contact
Michael Ford, Communications Co-ordinator
01722 438651, 07500 836989, 

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