The sounds of St. Mary’s bells ringing out over the Downs have been heard for a very long time as in 1552, it is recorded that there were three bells in the tower. During the 17th century, three of our present bells were cast in local foundries. Two more were cast in the next two centuries and yet another was recast from an older bell by Mears & Stainbank in London in 1907. The whole belfry had a major refit that year as a new steel supporting frame for the six bells was fitted by a Kidlington firm. Over the next 100 years, these six bells must have marked thousands of local and national events, the most recent being welcoming the new millennium in 2000 when on New Year’s Day all the ringable church bells in the UK were rung.
The new millennium brought a new era for Childrey bell ringing. In April 2005, after much planning and fund-raising and with the huge generosity of many well-wishers, all our old bells were taken away by Whites of Appleton, assisted by a willing band of local bell ringers and helpers. Then started a total overhaul of the bells and “augmentation” (increasing the number in the ring from SIX to EIGHT). Two brand new bells were cast and one old bell was recast by the Whitechapel Bell foundry, the whole process watched by a team of Childrey bell ringers. In Sept. 2005, the bells, all eight of them, were welcomed home to Childrey by many villagers, young and old. A few days of dedicated work by the same band of helpers and the experts from Whites of Appleton re-installed the bells and set them ringing out again over the village.
In February 2006, our bells were rededicated at a church service by the Bishop of Reading and also that month, a team of guest ringers rang the first peal (a complex, 3 hour long method ) on the renewed bells.
Why not come along to see how we ring them and perhaps join us? Tens of thousands of people do it worldwide, men and women, girls and boys, from teenagers to 90 yr olds. It doesn’t require great strength, just training in the correct technique. You ring as a team and it is good exercise for mind and body.
Just come along to the church when we practice on Wednesdays from 7.30 – 9.00pm. However, visitors to our Church should just check with Bryan or Zoe first, in case of unexpected cancellation of practice.
Visiting ringers are not uncommon and these can be arranged via the Tower Captain Zoe Bowden 01235 751374 or Bryan Winsley 01235 751280.