Ride n Stride Richmond 2014

Get on your bikes or put your best foot forward to raise much needed funds for London’s places of worship!

On Saturday 20 September 2014, Londoners are invited to walk, run or cycle to visit religious buildings. The less energetic can also take part as many of these buildings are on major public transport routes, so top up your Oyster cards now!

Local community groups, congregations, friends, school groups, family and individuals will all be getting out and about to see as many places of worship as possible in one day – by bike, on foot, or by public transport. This is a wonderful opportunity to dust off your hiking boots, bicycles, running shoes or Oyster cards and set out to discover some of London’s amazing faith buildings.

Participants are free to choose a route and distance to suit them – over 70 places of worship across 17 boroughs are taking part and will be open from 10 am to 5pm on Saturday.

This is a London-wide, multi-denominational, interfaith event. Places of worship of all faiths, from many historic periods will be open – from medieval churches in the heart of the City, to 20th century modern buildings in the suburbs. Many places of worship that are not normally open will be welcoming participants on the day.

All sponsorship money raised will be split equally between the participant’s nominated place of worship and the Heritage of London Trust. The Heritage of London Trust gives grants to repair London’s built religious heritage.

Ride+Stride started in Suffolk in 1981 as an annual sponsored bike ride and quickly became a national event, although it is still relatively new in London. In 30 years of Ride+Stride over £29 million has been raised, to help maintain and restore our built religious heritage.

Ride+Stride London is being organised by Heritage of London Trust, established in 1980, the only building preservation trust to cover all of Greater London. The charity is dedicated to protecting and restoring buildings of historic interest in London, so they can be used and enjoyed by local communities.

Places of worship are often not only architecturally interesting, but also reveal much about the history of the local community. Ride+Stride makes it possible for everyone to visit a variety of places of worship of many different faiths and at the same time raise money through sponsorship for their repair and restoration.

Thousands of people throughout the rest of the country took part in Ride+Stride last Saturday (13th September) but in London this year the event has been scheduled to take place in conjunction with and on the same day as London Open House, which will enable visitors to make the most of our built heritage and to visit a wide range of buildings.

Many places of worship will be putting on special events or activities to welcome visitors. From organ recitals to children’s quiz trails; from history tours to choir practice; from bell-ringing to coffee and cakes; from Messy Church to book sales. One choir will be walking through the City to see in how many churches they can sing in one day. There will be guided tours of churches with links and memorial to the First World War, with professional guides from the Blitzwalkers kindly donating their time. Professional organists are volunteering to play the organs in 16 churches in London, providing 32 hours of beautiful music for visitors to listen to. WestTrans will be providing bicycle maintenance and repairs at the Neasden Temple and St Nicholas Church in Chiswick for those who cycle to these two fabulous places of worship.

Ride+Stride offers Londoners the opportunity to see a huge range of buildings in age and style. This year the Church of Scientology will be opening for Ride+Stride for the first time; the Brentford Quaker meeting house is one of the oldest and smallest buildings that will be open. An international flavour will be provided by the Swedish Church, the Finnish Church and St George’s German Lutheran Church. From St Bride’s Fleet Street to the Hindu mandir at Neasden, built with traditional Indian techniques. Some are rarely open to visitors such as St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich, which was bombed in 1944 and never rebuilt. The fine VC memorial survived and is currently being restored by the Heritage of London Trust. Others, like St Paul’s Cathedral, are well known landmarks and are offering free entrance for those who are fundraising for Ride+Stride.

The adventurer, writer and television presenter Bear Grylls is a long-term supporter of the National Churches Trust and has become a supporter of Ride+Stride. In July 2009, he was appointed the youngest-ever Chief Scout at the age of 35, a position he still proudly holds. Bear Grylls says about Ride+Stride:

“Many historic churches are battling to survive. Roofs leak, ancient timbers rot and medieval stonework crumbles. Now you can help by joining the Ride+Stride adventure, a sponsored bike ride and walk discovering beautiful churches, which also raises money for their repair and preservation. With thousands to choose from, there is no shortage of fantastic churches, chapels and meeting houses to explore. Wherever you go, your Ride+Stride journey will help ensure that historic churches remain at the heart of our national heritage and the soul of local communities for generations to come.”

Dudley Fishburn, chairman of the Heritage of London Trust is a keen advocate of the event:

“This is a brilliant chance for people to see buildings of interest that are rarely open to members of the public. We also hope to raise thousands of pounds for the upkeep of these buildings which are used by all members of the community”.

London co-ordinator Fiona Morgan says that although the places of interest are religious buildings this isn’t an event that is aimed purely at churchgoers: “Everyone is invited to take part and every pound we can raise will make a huge difference. Ride+Stride is an excellent day out for body and soul and a chance to see gems of London architecture. It offers individuals, families and groups an unusual day out with plenty to see, do, hear, eat, drink and be involved in”.

Full details of the places of worship involved, routes, lists of top 10 buildings, a tallest tower quiz and general information are available at www.heritageoflondon.com.. The website also contains the sponsorship form for use by participants and guided tours which can be booked in advance.