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Our Lady of Bloxham, Bloxham , Oxon
Banbury branch of the ODG
Our Lady of Bloxham, Bloxham
Our Lady of Bloxham, Bloxham
©Alan Griffin 16 Feb 2002
Dedication: Our Lady of Bloxham, Bloxham

Service Ringing: Sun 9.00, 5.30pm

Practice night: Fri 7.30pm

Availability and Restrictions on request


The earliest building was in 12th century, with additions in most centuries since. In 15th century Master Mason Richard Winchcombe built the Milcombe chapel. Take your binoculars to appreciate the gargoyles and other carvings on the tower.

  • Simon Jenkins 1000 Best English Parish Churches
  • Fine carved animals decorate the tower (198' high steeple) and some of the pillars of the interior.
  • Thorneycroft memorial in Milcombe chapel with clear window walls dating from the 15th century.
  • Fragments of wall paintings above the chancel arch and over the north door.
  • 1869 Morris, Burne Jones and Webb designed stained glass windows in the chancel.
  • Giant redwood trees in the graveyard.
  • Betjeman plaque awarded.
  • The screen between aisle and ringing chamber has millennium embroideries depicting Bloxham life in the year 2000.
Exterior of Church
carving on spire
upper part of Bloxham spire
©KMC 8 Jun 2002
redwoods in graveyard
Redwoods in the graveyard behind St. Mary's church
©KMC 8 Jun 2002
The carvings make life difficult for the steeple keeper, who spends hours trying to keep off the pigeons and to stop the jackdaws building nests in the belfry.

Milcombe Chapel left, millennium embroideries right
Milcombe chapel
Thorneycroft memorial Betjeman award on right
©KMC 8 Jun 2002
millennium embroidery
Ringing chamber with millennium embroideries
Rope guides can be seen above the screen
©KMC 8 Jun 2002
The Milcombe chapel has glass 'Window walls' dating from the 15th century. The Thorneycroft memorial dates from the early 1700s; when Sir John wanted to mount the monument to his wife against the windows the parishioners objected strongly, accusing him of desecrating one of the finest churches in England. He had his own way but at the restoration of the 1860s, G.E.Street moved the memorials to their present position. There is still a ledge along the wall dating from the earliest time when churches had no seats. Only the aged were allowed to rest on the ledges, hence the saying "the weakest to the wall".

The small frame to the right of the memorial holds 'The John Betjeman Award'. The text is:


Presented in memory of Sir John Betjeman
by The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
for exemplary repairs to churches and
chapels in England and Wales remaining in use.

For repairs to St Mary's Church,
Bloxham, Oxon

It is illustrated by a John Piper painting. The artist, John Piper, who lived near Henley, was a friend of John Betjeman. They collaborated on a series of books, Murray's Architectural Guides and on others such as 'Church Poems' and 'Guide to English Parish Churches'. The Clock

The sundial was mounted on the south side of the tower in 1802.

In 1821 a clock face was installed.

In 1880 a new clock was installed on the north side of the tower.

In 1926 a new clock face was added on the west side of the tower.

Information from the booklet obtainable in the church, 'A Guide and History of the Church' by Yvonne Huntriss
©KMC 10 Jun 2001
The Bells (8) 26-3-7 -- (2nd heaviest tenor in the ODG)

Access to ringing chamber: Ground floor at western end of the aisle, one step up from the aisle. Access also via the Western door but not always open. In 1956 the bells were retuned at the Whitechapel Bell foundry in London. They were rehung at a lower level in a new frame. No bells now have canons.

The weights and inscriptions
The weights were copied from the church booklet listed in References below. The inscriptions are copied from F.Sharpe, Bells of Oxon. by permission of the trustees. The gear details and diameters are from Andrew Bull.

Frame: Metal low type (2-tier).
Gear: Cast-iron headstocks, Fixed steel gudgeons, Self-aligning ball-bearings, Traditional English-type wheels, Traditional stays, M & S 1956.

A western tower, 198 feet high, containing a ring of 8 bells tenor 26-3-7 diameter 54" tuned in Db,
Bell Weight
Founder Foundry
treble 6-1-4 31¾ Db 1903 James Barwell Birmingham IN MEMORIAM CONSTANTIAE
2 7-0-8 33 C 1903 James Barwell Birmingham IN MEMORIAM CONSTANTIAE
3 8-2-8 36 Bb 1903 James Barwell Birmingham GLORY BE TO GOD ON HIGH 1880 - RECAST 1903
4 10-0-4 38 Ab 1830 John Rudhall Gloucester RICHD. POTTER & WILLM. WILLITTS TOWNSMEN J830 [Border D2] I.RUDHALL FECT. [Border D2]
5 12-2-13 41½ Gb 1570 Appowell Buckingham [Cross Q4] GOTHIC LETTERS SOME REVERSED
6 13-2-4 43¼ F 1750 Abel Rudhall Gloucester EDWARD LAMLEY JOHN WELLS CHURCH WARDENS A[Bell]R 1750 [Border C5]
[Border C5 all round the bell]
7 19-0-7 48½ Eb 1903 James Barwell Birmingham SANCTA MARIA ORA PRO NOBIS - REFICTA A.S.MCMIII
Tenor 26-3-7 54½ Db 1648 James Keene Woodstock [*] WILLIAM [*] LOVELL [G1] GEORGE [*] FRENCH [G1] CHURCH WARDENS 1648 [*] WH [*] TH [*] SG [*] IP [A1] IK [A1] [Border B2] [Cross Q6]

inscription on tenor
Tenor cast 1648 in Woodstock. ©KMC 8 Jun 2002

  1. [*] is a fleur-de-lys
  2. a sanctus bell, 22½" diameter, is hung for chiming in N window of the belfry. It is a long waisted bell of 16th century shape without an inscription.
  3. A service bell, 16"diameter is in a cote on W gable of Milcombe chapel.
  4. Founders
    • James Barwell of Birmingham
      1. Cast the treble in 1903
      2. Cast the 2nd in 1903
      3. cast the 3rd in 1880 and recast it in 1903
      4. recast the 7th in 1903
    • The Rudhalls of Gloucester
      1. Abel Rudhall cast the 6th in 1750
      2. John Rudhall cast the 4th in 1830
    • James Keene of Woodstock
      1. cast the tenor in 1648. It is the 2nd largest in the county. Only the tenor at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford is heavier at 31 cwt.
    • probably Appowell of Buckingham
      1. cast the 5th circa 1570
        some of the letters in the inscription are reversed; they are similar to those on the 4th at Padworth, Berks, where the letters have crowns above them.
  5. In 1903 the former ring of 6 was augmented to 8 by the addition of a treble and a second. At the same time, the 3rd and 7th were recast, a rolled steel joist frame and new gear were installed by Barwell. Details of the former ring of 6 are in F.Sharpe, Bells of Oxon. Unfortunately, soon after the installation of the new bells, ringing was prohibited by the Church Architect due to oscillation of the tower and spire.

    A plaque on the north wall of the ringing chamber commemorates the restoration of 1903, it reads:

    A.S. MCMII.
  6. There were 6 bells prior to 1903; we know that there were 5 in 1666 when Warden Woodward appreciated their sound.


Details from the booklet obtainable from the church, "St. Mary's Church,Bloxham, Oxfordshire. A Guide and History of the Church" by Yvonne Huntriss published by Cherwell District Council 1997.

Points of interest in church:
 (SJ****C)Simon Jenkins Window carvings, Milcombe chapel, Burne Jones glass

Travel Details: OS Grid Ref: SP430356 Park nearby adjacent to Parish rooms, accessed from the lay-by. Limited street parking.

Public Transport: on main bus route to Banbury

Eating Places: 3 nearby, ringers use the Elephant and Castle, 01295 720383

Local points of interest for non ringers: Bloxham museum (open only at weekends)

Return to the Banbury Branch listings page

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