Don’t Forget – Pet Service this Sunday in Stoke by Nayland

Seven and a Half Churches: The Legacy of St Thomas in South India

When 16th century European priests arrived in southern India to introduce Christianity, they were told that a more famed Christian missionary had been there many years beforehand.
As they travelled in and around the regions of Travancore and Cochin, the priests found that there were indeed a long-established community of Christians, and the man who first converted them was none other than St. Thomas the Apostle (the “Doubting Thomas”), who it was said, arrived in India aboard a Roman trading vessel in 52 AD.Now, whether St. Thomas himself actually preached under the palm trees of Travancore and Cochin more than 1900 years ago, in the end come down to an act of faith. One thing is certain though and that is that Indian Christian traditions predate any in Europe, and for the more than 2 million Christians in the region there is no doubt.
However, just like St. Thomas, sometimes it is easier to believe when you can see and touch things for yourself, and so to trace these historic roots and traditions for yourself I am inviting you to join me in discovering these in depth first-hand from the 17th September to 4th October 2018.
Together, we will explore these unusual stories, the “seven and a half” churches founded by Thomas, and the Christian traditions of south India. Our journey will take us along the south west Malabar coastline, through the backwaters of Kerala to the very southern tip of the subcontinent, before travelling on to the Coromandel coast in the east, where, tradition tells us that St. Thomas met his end at the hands of an angry king on a hilltop just outside modern-day Chennai (Madras).
Along the way we will visit a modern-day legacy of St Thomas’ Christian influence, as we visit the Donhavur Fellowship, a community founded by the late Anglican missionary and spiritual writer Amy Carmichael. As well as experiencing and participating in the Christian traditions; we will also take the opportunity to visit the magnificent Hindu temples in Madurai and the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mahabalipuram – all with plenty of time to relax, shop for gifts or handmade clothes, eat well and to enjoy all that India has to offer.

This tour really does offer something for all, whether you have travelled to South India before, or a new to the region or country, this tour will enable you to meet the real people and explore those places overlooked by tourists – allowing you to become a pilgrim instead and to follow in paths once trodden by saints.

I very much look forward to travelling with you.    All are welcome.

The Revd Mark Woodrow

More information can be found at 

Gospel Oak & Rural Mission Sunday 2017

The view from Polstead – but not the ‘Gospel Oak’ itself

The sun almost shone as we took our service outside and into the grounds of Polstead Hall which are adjacent to St Mary’s Church for our annual celebration of St Cedd coming to the parish in 653AD and preaching outside underneath the ‘Gospel Oak’.    Whilst the old tree finally died in 1953 (revealing it was almost 1,400 years old), the Gospel Message continues.

Age is no barrier – so all were involved in the retelling of the Parable of the Sower

No, domestic violence isn’t taking place but Bill Wigglesworth (our churchwarden) and wearing his yellow shirt as he takes on the role of “The Hot Sun”, withers the poor plants.

Other plants, growing in good soil are growing quite happily – ready to bear much fruit!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this a special occasion, from the musicians, to those who provided refreshments, as well as those who helped carry the chairs.

A Prayer for Rural Mission Sunday

Creator God,

through whose word all things came into being, and by whose
power all is sustained: your creation renews inspires awe and
worship, strengthens us with hope and calls to us to wonder
at your mystery.
We pray that, filled with the Spirit who leads us to Christ, you
would open our eyes to see your gifts and open our hearts
that we may share them with others.
May the churches across our countryside be centres of
community, places of welcome and human warmth, and
channels of the hospitable love offered us in Jesus.
We pray this prayer in His holy name.


Rt Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Potato Party ‘a Smash’ in Polstead

The Best Dressed Potato

Last Saturday (8th July) whilst the village was basking in a glorious sunny day what seemed like most of Polstead descended upon the gardens at the home of Juliet  &  David Allerton, with many wheeling wheelbarrows full of mud and potato plants.

It turns out that they had been given a couple of seed potatoes earlier in the year with a challenge to see who could grow the best crop, with prizes for the the winners – and let’s just say that the crop size varied considerably, from just a couple of potatoes to whole baskets full.

If you weren’t green fingered then there were still plenty of potato themed activities to join in with – including the “Best Dressed Potato” contest (see picture above) – or you could find a shady spot and simply sit back with a cup of tea and some home made cake.

A massive thank you to everyone who joined in, and a special thanks to Juliet & David and her family for all the hard work they put in.    The total profit for the day was an incredibly respectable £723.61 but even more rewarding was the enjoyment had by all.

An opportunity to travel to India or the Holy Land with Revd Mark

“The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page” (Attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo)

There is something very special about travelling with others, and especially when there is a spiritual or faith element to the journey.

For a number of years now The Revd Mark Woodrow has been leading groups to both the Holy Land and also all across India.   All tours are inclusive and open to all – all that he asks is that you come with an open mind and a willingness to challenge preconceived ideas.

This is now your opportunity to join with Revd Mark and with others from the Parish and the wider Diocese on one of the following tours.

Tour #1 – An Advent Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

A 10 day inclusive tour of the principal sites of Jesus’ ministry, including Bethlehem (a particularly special time as the preparations for Christmas will be well underway), Nazareth, Galilee, Jerusalem.  With time to also visit Jericho, Caesarea Maritima, Qumran, Masada and a float on the Dead Sea.

Tour departs on Tuesday 28th November 2017 and returns on Thursday 7th December 2017.

(More information on this tour can be found by clicking here )


Tour #2 – Tea, Tigers and Mother Teresa

A 15 day inclusive tour of North East India. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to take in the highlights of Calcutta, including a visit to the Missionaries of Charity (former home to Saint Mother Teresa), Darjeeling (including a trip on the world famous Heritage railway), Guwahati, and the stunningly beautiful Assam region.  It includes a spectacular 5-day river cruise down the Brahmaputra River, where we will, amongst other activities, endeavour to spot wild tigers whilst on an Elephant safari in the Kaziranga National Park.

Tour departs on Friday 6th April 2018 and returns on Friday 20th April 2018 – Space on this tour is strictly limited.

(More information on this tour can be found by clicking here )


For more information, prices and full itineraries, please contact:

The Revd Mark Woodrow – 01206 262150 –

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

(Sir Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky)

Record Breaking Fete!

Despite the Bank Holiday Monday weather not being the best, this years church fete in Nayland was the most successful ever!

After expenses it raised £13,893.66 with a further £199.00 being raised by “The Friends of St James’, Nayland”; and £850 by St Mary’s, Wiston.

With substantial restoration works currently underway at St James’ such a wonderful total will certainly go some way to helping with the significant costs involved in maintaining our church for future generations.

A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who came, donated or helped we really couldn’t have done it without you!


Rogation Day 2017

Yesterday (Sunday 21st May) the weather held fine and after a service of Holy Communion the benefice headed out in cars and shooting trailer to ‘Beat the Bounds’ of Wiston and Nayland and to bless the crops and our community as we went.

Finally we returned back to St Mary’s, Wiston, where the sun continued to shine as we shared a picnic lunch in the churchyard.

Thank you to everyone who made the day possible.  Thanks also to Jacqui Smith, and Antonia, Stephen and Joe Rowland for the photographs.

Nayland Church Fete – Mon. 29th May 2017


Our Traditional village fete will once again be held in the beautiful medieval village of Nayland on this upcoming Bank Holiday Monday:

Come along and:-

  • Admire the Great Classic Vehicle Display
  • Take part in adults and children’s novelty sports and Tug of War.
  • Shop for plants, books, vintage, gifts and more.
  • Enjoy sideshows for all ages including Splat the Rat, Bouncy Castle, Welly boot throw, China Smash and face painting.
  • Feast on hotdogs, homemade cakes, strawberries and cream and ices.
  • There will be a raffle with a £150 first prize Great fun for all

All proceeds to St James’ Church Fabric Fund.

Gates Open 1.30pm – Stalls Open 2pm

Adults £2
Concessions £1
Children 50p

Free Parking

For more information please contact:  Lorna Burgin (