Penhill Benefice

The benefice covers a large part of picturesque Wensleydale,  and consists of  Aysgarth church (St Andrew’s), Castle Bolton church (St Oswald’s), Preston under Scar church (St Margaret’s), Redmire church (St Mary’s), Wensley church (Holy Trinity) and West Witton church (St Bartholomew’s) and  Thornton Rust Mission Room.

The churches are open again. For full details see

Face coverings must be worn in church, along with social distancing and the use of sanitiser. Sanitiser is available immediately inside the churches as well as the means to provide details confidentially for test and trace.

For details of how to join telephone and Zoom services go to the Service page  of the Penhill Benefice website.

Our church buildings are presently open on the following days*-

Preston under Scar and Wensley –  Daily
Aysgarth – Daily
Castle Bolton – closed until December 7 as filming taking place in the village
Redmire – Daily
West Witton – Sunday and Thursday

* the buildings will close for the three days before a service to allow time for virus degradation.

The responsibility for keeping buildings clean and the public safe  rests with the members of each church council along with myself as Vicar. We show our care for the community by only opening after we have studied the guidance and made a careful risk assessment.


All the names of the men of Aysgarth parish who were killed during two World Wars and the 1st Iraq War are at the beginning of the post: War Memorials and Graves at Aysgarth church

The Rev Penny Yeadon’s sermon on Remembrance Sunday 2020 –

This morning across the nation and across the world we pause to reflect and remember those who have lost their lives in the service of this country and others in the first & second world wars and the many conflicts that followed.
Last Sunday we paused and reflected on those loved ones that we have lost over more recent years but in particular during the past year which has been one of extraordinary circumstances and as a consequence for the first time since this service of remembrance was introduced we have not been able to meet face to face physically in church.
These are deeply challenging and difficult times for us all. When we are surrounded by fear and suffering, it can be hard to feel hopeful and this coming winter feels like it will be longer and darker than usual. Even so there are also many points of light in the coming weeks ahead. This morning we remember the courage and sacrifice of those who gave everything for this nation in the war, we are also reminded of the possibility of hope after destruction, of new life after suffering of reconciliation after fighting.
One story that struck me this week was by Church Times columnist; Mark Oakley. Remembrance for Mark makes him think of his Grandfather.
One year, Mark wrote to his local newspaper to recount the story of his visit to Dresden, where in a taxi, he discovered that the driver’s mother had died in the bombing on the same night that Marks’ Grandfather had navigated a Lancaster over the city.
The driver stopped the car and turned round to Mark with his outstretched arm and said “and now we shake hands”.
A few days after Mark’s article was published, he was contacted by an elderly man who had been on a ship struck by a German U-boat off the coast of Cornwall. Fifty years later, having told a local newspaper about how he survived by being rescued by fisherman, he received a case of wine from the Mosel – from the U-boat’s commandant. They eventually met up, and their families even went on holiday together. Not so much spears into ploughshares as submarines into bottles. The man, in tears, said to Mark “it put both our lives in tune again before we go”.
Perhaps that is what Jesus is trying to tell the disciples in our Gospel reading this morning in the story of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. Interestingly Jesus’ teaching is addressed to his group of committed disciples. Unlike our previous parables that we have looked at in recent weeks: he is not teaching in the presence of opponents: he is instructing disciples who have come to him ‘privately’ at the Mount of Olives to ask “what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?’.
In response, Jesus tells his disciples that ‘about that day and hour, no one knows neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son’. He gives the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids to encourage them to live expectantly within the present age; perhaps to put their lives in tune again before they go.
It is suggested that the difference between the wise and foolish bridesmaids is that the foolish have focused on worldly things, and have allowed their love for God to grow cold. Whereas the wise bridesmaids, by contrast, ‘love preserves its glow even to the very end.
In telling us that the wise bridesmaids could not give their oil to the foolish, Jesus is warning that this mutual care does not remove the need for vigilance of each & every heart. Our indifference or ‘lukewarm’ receptivity to God’s call and in return our lack of love for him can run up against a genuine ‘too late’. The call is to put our lives in tune before we go.
Augustine writes ‘we can put the oil into our lamps, but we did not create the olive. It is the gift of God.
But Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians wants us hang on to the hope of that eternal life. He acknowledges that the separation from those whom we have loved and see no more, is genuinely, painful yet he wants to set our grief within the framework of hope. There is no need for anxiety about the fate of their brothers and sisters in Christ, whilst death has taken them from the earth, it cannot take them from the Lord. In him, living and departed remain knit together as members of one body.
So let us remember that our vigilance is not a matter of anxious moralism but of joyful receptivity and expectancy. The wise bridesmaids can rest in sleep – and the Thessalonians can face death without fear – because they are held in a far greater love.
So we too are called to live expectantly within the present age, as were those who lived and died in the service of this country and others in the first & second world wars and the many conflicts that followed.

Further reading

The new vicar, the Rev Tom Ringland, was licensed in November 2019.

For more about Aysgarth church see: Aysgarth Church – a Guide, Pentecost at Aysgarth church; a personal view;  the Heroine of Cawnpore;  Aysgarth church and a Gurkha officer; 2014 Flower Festival ; and In Appreciation of Easter.  See also Wensley Church

About other places of worship in Wensleydale: St Simon and St Judes, Ulshaw Bridge;   and the introduction to The Quaker Inheritance – which is part of my series on Pioneering Girls’ Education.

FLOWER FESTIVAL at Aysgarth Church

Photographs of the flower festival during the Festival of Remembrance November 9-12 2018 can be seen by going to Aysgarth Festival of Remembrance.

And click here to see photographs of the flower festival during the Harvest Festival at St Andrew’s in September 2019.