St Mary the Virgin is situated at the northern end of the village overlooking the Vale of the White Horse. Childrey is a quintessential English village, with its own school, shop, village green, duck pond and Methodist church.
The church is open during daylight hours, and visitors are most welcome at any time.
St Mary’s is listed in Simon Jenkins’ ‘Best One Thousand Churches’.
The present church is a Grade One listed building dating from the 12th Century. However, the site goes back over 1000 years to Saxon times and has been developed and added to over the centuries. Visitors may be especially interested to see the unique 12th century font, medieval glass, medieval and Victorian tiles, some of the best brasses in the area, the effigy of a 14th Century knight and the one-handed clock.
The lead font dates from the reign of Henry the Second and is thought to be the oldest of its kind. It has a frieze of 12 moulded abbots in chasubles each having a crozier turned inwards in one hand and a book in the other.
In the north transept, the window has glass dating back to the 14th century. It tells the life-story of St Mary and was restored in 1999. The north transept also houses the effigy of a knight dating from about 1320. It is believed to be Geoffrey Frethorne a member of the Frethorne family who had very strong links with the church at that time. A photograph of the effigy can be found at www.thmcs.org/freethorne (search in date order – 1320).
The brasses are floor and wall mounted and are found in the chancel and south transept. On the north wall of the chancel there is a 14th century Easter Sepulchre. Visitors may also take note of the 17th century graffiti on the choir stalls!
Also found in the south transept is an unusual memorial of a German cross that marked the grave of a British soldier, who died in battle in France in 1914 and was buried by his enemies. The soldier’s family lived locally and brought the cross back.
The one-handed clock can be found on the exterior of the bell tower. It dates from 1763 and was wound daily until 1986 when it was it was converted to run by electricity.
In 2005/6 a major fund raising appeal involving the whole community enabled restoration work to be carried out to the roofs and tower. The number of bells was increased from six to eight. The bells are rung regularly by a local team who can be heard practising most Wednesday evenings.
In 2015-16, a further appeal raised enough funding to install a kitchenette and WC at the south end of the transept. Vital drainage and guttering work was carried out at the same time. Regrettably, the lead from the transept was stolen in the summer of 2016. More fund-raising since then and a successful application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable repairs to be made in the autumn of 2018. As there are three species of bats living in the church building, the work has to be scheduled around their life-cycle.
REGULAR SERVICE PATTERN
8.30am Holy Communion Rite A (Said)
Currently no service
10.00am Family Communion with music
11.00am Worship Together – A Family Service alternating between St Mary’s and Childrey Methodist Church
10.00am Benefice Communion Service at St Andrews Church, Letcombe Regis
St Mary’s is one of the six churches that make up The Ridgeway Benefice.
Rector of the Ridgeway Benefice
Revd Leonora Hill
Ridgeway Rectory, Warborough Road, Letcombe Regis, WANTAGE, Oxon. OX12 9LD
Tel: 01235 760112
Tel: 01235 751297
Tel: 01235 751078
Tel: 01235 751377
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