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St Peter's and St Paul's

Shiplake ChurchOur church serves the worshipping needs of a thriving and friendly community, drawn from Shiplake and the surrounding areas. 

All newcomers and visitors are warmly welcome. 


All-Age Family Service
Choral Evensong
Sung Eucharist & Sunday School
Five o'Clock Slot
Family Eucharist
Lay-led Services

Shiplake Sunday Club
for Children

House groups
for small groups of about 8-10 people

Revd Robert S Thewsey
Shiplake and Dunsden with Harpsden cum Bolney
The Rectory, Church Lane, Shiplake, Oxfordshire – 0118 9403484

Times of services and other information are on the Church website

Shiplake Benefice Article Summer 2017


Dear friends

I write this article in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks around the world which have seem to be escalating, and which has also left me, as I am sure it has left many of you, wondering about this world that we live in.

We can in our lives think that the little things that get us down and upset are important, but… are they really? What would we feel if we had had a row over breakfast with our loved ones and then found that we could not say sorry to them as they had been killed? Why do we get so upset over the small difficulties in life when we can seem at times to totally ignore the bigger picture?

Jesus says ‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ‘(Mark 12:30-31. NRSV)

I have been struck that we often do not seem to take these words to heart, and struggle to even like our neighbour, let alone love them. However, the open letter from Antoine Leiris, (17th November 2015) which directly addressed the terror gang who gunned down his wife Hélène Muyal-Leiris in the Paris shooting really hit home for me, and so I would like to remind you about what he said - just in case you missed it, or have forgotten his words.

On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won't have my hatred.

I don't know who you are and I don't want to know - you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.

So no, I don't give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. 

You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have lost.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. 

Of course I'm devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you'll never have access.

We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world. 

I don't have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either. 

This open letter also then reminded me of another great act of forgiveness:

William Ury wrote in his 1999 book The Third Side about the peace campaigner Gordon Wilson (25 September 1927-27 June 1995)

In an interview with the BBC, Wilson described with anguish his last conversation with his daughter and his feelings toward her killers: "She held my hand tightly, and gripped me as hard as she could. She said, 'Daddy, I love you very much.' Those were her exact words to me, and those were the last words I ever heard her say." To the astonishment of listeners, Wilson went on to add, "But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life. She was a great wee lassie. She loved her profession. She was a pet. She's dead. She's in heaven and we shall meet again. I will pray for these men tonight and every night." As historian Jonathan Bardon recounts, "No words in more than twenty-five years of violence in Northern Ireland had such a powerful, emotional impact."

Let us all then remember that in this world that we live in we can all make a difference, and we can and should make this world a better place to live in.


Yours in Christ


Article created / last edited: 10 August 2017

Welcome from New Rector Rev, Robert Thewsey


Can I first of all say a huge thank you for the warmth of your welcome to myself and my family. It has been a real joy to meet you and we have certainly been made to feel extremely welcome. Thank you. I very much look forward to meeting villagers, when I wander around the area, but please do bear with me as I try to start putting names to faces - do remember that you have only four new names to learn whereas we have over a hundred!

May I take this opportunity to ask you all to think about next year – already….and you have only been here a few weeks- I hear you say. I am trying to put together a benefice diary so that everybody within the benefice and our wider communities will know exactly what we are doing, where we are doing it and when we are doing it.

So please let me know by the end of October if you are planning any event during 2017 so that we can include it in the diary. ie when is your fete?, Patronal festival? Harvest Sunday? Remembrance Day events? Any concerts that you are planning, fundraising events etc. etc. This does not mean that we cannot have extra events slotted into the year later on, but then at least you would know if your planned event clashed with something else in the benefice calendar.

If you don’t let me know, then I cannot include it in the diary. I cannot promise to include all the local events - but I will try.

I always seem to struggle with this time of year. The Summer is over, but yet Winter is still not with us. We alternate between lovely sunny days and dull, dank autumnal days. We still can’t put away the summer clothes and switch over to the winter ones, as some days are so warm. A time of change is upon the world and change is never an easy thing to deal with. This is why many of you, I know, are feeling insecure about me coming here among you. – what will I introduce, what might I change?

Change is never easy, but it does give us the opportunity to try something new, and sometimes we can be pleasantly surprised, and other times confirmed in our doubt. However, if you have any ideas about what you would like to see happen around the three churches, then please, please, please let me know. We can then have a discussion and see where your ideas might lead us.

I/we will never be able to please everybody – that is simply impossible, but I will listen and try and hear what you are concerned about, and then try and come to a balance that will enable us to go forward, as we strive to undertake God’s work here in the benefice.

Yours in Christ,


Revd Robert S Thewsey
Shiplake and Dunsden with Harpsden cum Bolney

The Rectory, Church Lane, Shiplake, Oxfordshire – 0118 9403484

Article created / last edited: 16 October 2016