‘Sconeathon’ set to tempt the taste buds at Churches Festival

One of the largest festivals of its kind in Europe, and now in its 23rd year, the West Lindsey Churches Festival will see 95 churches and chapels across this Lincolnshire district opening their doors on the weekends of 11th–12th and 18th–19th May, welcoming over 9,000 visitors, with the offer of scones of all shapes and tastes in what’s believed to be Lincolnshire’s first ‘Sconeathon’!
With free entry to all, over half of the participating churches are gearing up for the ‘Sconeathon Challenge’, creating wonderful and intriguing flavoured scones for visitors to sample as they travel from church to church. The challenge for the festival visitor is to taste as many types of scones as they can over the four days, sharing photos on social media using the hashtag #LincsSconeathon.

“Ancient recipe books are being dusted down as our members hunt for the more traditional flavours,” states festival chairman, Paul Howitt-Cowan. “We are in for a tremendous treat. Many people are also creating new unique scones, especially for the weekend. It is going to be taste bud heaven!”

Riby’s St Edmund’s is hosting a ‘Scone Off’ on 18th May, inviting visitors to try their hand at baking four scones in one of several categories for a panel of judges (including Lincolnshire celebrity chef Rachel Green) to select the winners! At St Helen’s in Willingham by Stow, there is even an exhibition on the local production of all the ingredients used in making this tasty teatime treat.

The churches festival is also a joyful way to encourage families to enter a church, perhaps for the first time, and discover these ‘mini-museums’ that are literally on the doorstep of people’s homes, but often forgotten and sometimes sadly neglected. Other attractions include delicious lunches being served in around 25 churches, homeade cakes served in many more and a host of free music, including 15 organ recitals and medieval, renaissance and baroque music performed by Sixteen Eighty Five.

“We want people to open the doors and look inside these stone buildings and learn about their past, in a fun and enjoyable way,” explains Paul. “One group of churches right in the south of the area has certainly grasped this opportunity. The ‘Abbots Treasure Hunt’ (taking place around six churches in Bardney, Southrey, Stainfield, Apley, Minting and Gautby) entices the visitor to follow the clues between the churches to discover where the Abbot of Bardney has hidden his treasure. And a reward is offered to the person who finds it!”

Many other intriguing stories can be discovered at the festival churches, including:
• Gautby and the murder of a young man on his ‘Grand Tour’ of Greece
• Langton by Wragby and its famous son, Stephen Langton, key architect of the writing of Magna Carta
• Kettlethorpe’s association with Katherine Swynford, the third wife of John of Gaunt, well known from Anya Seton’s famous novel Katherine
• Thoresway and the mystery of the Pagan drowning pool

The invitation is offered to everybody to come and celebrate the area’s rich church heritage.

“Whatever the weather, make sure that during two weekends in May, you take to the outdoors, with an appetite to learn about our communities’ heritage, view magnificent carvings, memorials and stained glass, chat with local historians, listen to the sounds of organ music and, of course, taste those wonderful scones! You will not be disappointed,” added Paul. “Every church really does have a story to tell.”

Full details of what each church is doing and an interactive map can be found on the festival website at www.churchesfestival.info. Brochures will also be placed in libraries, Tourist Information Centres and participating churches, and can be requested by emailing churchesfestival.info@gmail.com.

The festival is sponsored by West Lindsey District Council and Systematic Print.

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