YOU would think a pub and a church were worlds apart but according to a new book, wine isn’t the only thing they have in common.
Jolly Jaunts with the Parson & the Publican is a new book by two friends who have scoured the English countryside for refreshment for body and soul.
Their tales of pews and pints from around Worcestershire, Herefordshire and the Wye Valley are interspersed with idle thoughts and family recipes passed down from the parson’s grandmother.
Two decades ago, the Rev Ian Charlesworth met publican Richard Stockton in a village just outside Hay-on-Wye.
“He was running a very successful hostelry where I was made rector,” said Mr Charlesworth.
“I thought it my pastoral duty to cross the threshold and quickly we discovered a mutual interest and have been firm friends ever since.”
The chums started to document their adventures about five years ago and have written more than 50 articles, which have been published in county magazines every month for the last few years.
“We started writing when the publican retired and we had a few days out,” said Mr Charlesworth.
“I would show him around a church where we’d usually get cold and need to visit a local hostelry to warm up and mull over the day’s findings.
“Someone suggested that we write our anecdotes down and they seemed to like them.
Richard’s watercolours are a delightful addition to the writing.
“We have always enjoyed walking around churchyards and pointing out the ages of people who have died.”
The book includes tales from the Talbot, in Knightwick, Malvern Priory and the Nag’s Head and St Peter’s Church and the Old Bull, Inkberrow.
But it was the Crown and Trumpet, in Broadway, that the parson felt especially attached to.
“Broadway was a particular gem,” he said. “It was a proper pub where the locals from Broadway would all meet and have a drink.
“And the Fleece at Bretforton was wonderful. The range of extra potent ciders had the publican’s eyes on stalks.
“It’s tough times for pubs and it’s great to be able to celebrate the places where people are working hard. Worcestershire is just littered with these wonderful places.
“It’s such a joy to be able to travel around. In all of the churches that we visited so much of the story of the village is continued within its walls, both the very grand families and also the very ordinary people.
And a lot of churches have things dating back from the First World War.”
And when asked why do the pub and church marry so well together, the parson said: “The publican and I feel pubs and churches are similar in many ways.
“They are about bringing the community together. He would have heard many confessions over the bar as I would have over a cup of tea. We felt the job of a publican and parson are very similar.”
Jolly Jaunts with the Parson & the Publican costs £10 and is available from Waterstones, in Worcester, Ledbury Books and can be ordered from theparso nandthepublican.com