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St. Nicholas, Asthall, Oxon
Chipping Norton branch of the ODG
St. Nicholas, Asthall
St. Nicholas, AsthallİBM 18 Oct 2004
Dedication: St. Nicholas, Asthall

Service Ringing: We now ring for the two services each month - on the first Sunday at Evensong - ringing from 5.15 pm to 6.00 and on the third Sunday at 0900 for the Holy Communion at 0930.

Practice night: practices are currently held in Burford, St John.

The Bells (6) 6-0-10 tuned to A. Restored and augmented from 3 in 2005.

Access to ringing chamber: Gallery accessed by a 13-step oak ladder from the vestry.

According to the church warden records the bells were restored in 1859 when three bells were installed in a new oak frame and a new treble was cast by Taylors of Loughborough using some of the metal from the old one. About 40 years ago, about 1965, the oak frame became unsafe and ringing was suspended.

In 2005 the bells were augmented to six with three new trebles and the cracked Sanctus was welded and rehung; all seven bells hang on one level in a new metal bellframe with entirely new fittings.

The old decayed oak frame was removed by local volunteers. The fifth was left with its original early C15th tuning. The old treble and tenor were retuned by the Whitechapel Foundry to become the new fourth and tenor; Whitechapel also cast the three new trebles, removed the canons from the fourth and drilled out the crown staples from the fifth and tenor which were then fitted with canon-retaining headstocks.

A new gallery was installed for the ringers with a 13-step oak ladder up from the vestry.

The new gear and rehanging was done by Nicholson Engineering who supplied the bell weights and sizes in the table below.

Other information was supplied by Jeremy Holland, tower Correspondent of Asthall in 2006.

Frame: Steel.
Gear: steel headstocks, traditional wheels and stays.

The Bells were rung for service for the first time after the restoration at 9am on Sunday 15 January 2006.
The dedication service was on 23 March 2006; the Bishop of Dorchester presided over a packed church which was fun and a great time was had by all.

A ring of 6, tenor 6-0-10, diameter 327/16”, tuned to A.
Bell Weight
Diameter Strike
Founder Foundry
treble 2-3-21 235/16 F# 2005 Whitechapel London O COME LET US SING UNTO THE LORD:
PSALM 95: 1 ad 2005
2 3-0-21 24¼ E 2005 Whitechapel London IN MEMORY OF Leonard Allan Darke 1914 - 2000
4 3-2-20 27¾ C# 1859 John Taylor & Co. Loughborough [cross J9] EDWARD TIMMS AND JOHN LOVETT CHURCHWARDENS 1859 [cross J9] JOHN TAYLOR AND CO. FOUNDERS LOUGHBOROUGH [J6]
5 4-1-0 30 B 15th cent.   Wokingham [cross F4] Ave Maria [Lion’s head, F2] [coin]
Tenor 6-0-10 327/16 A 15th cent.   Wokingham Sancti Johannis Ora Pro Nobis [Lion’s head, F2] [coin] [F4]
Sanctus 0-1-14#     1640 James Keene Wooodstock HARMAN FLECHER RICHARD GVRDIN CW 1640


  1. 20 [M] 05 is the Whitechapel Foundry mark. Sme of the 2005 bells also have a Vine Leaf Border.
  2. The inscriptions on the heavier 3 bells are in Gothic lettering. They are taken from from F. Sharpe The Church Bells of Oxfordshire. He last visited the tower in 1948.
  3. The former treble - now the fourth, was cast from the remains of a former bell probably destroyed in the same fire which caused the roof and tower to be rebuilt in the 1860's
  4. The fifth and tenor are 'Listed' bells; their inscriptions have crowns over the initial capitals of each word.
  5. The initials 'IK' on the Sanctus are those of the founder James Keene.

Asthall lies on the route of the old Roman road from Cirencester to Bicester Akeman Street at the point where it crosses the river Windrush. In the Domesday Book of 1086 'Esthale' was held for the King by Roger D'Ivery. The church dates from the early 1100s. There are some fine examples of Cotswold tombs like those below, which date from the heyday of the wool trade in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Table tomb
Table tomb İKMC 8 Oct 2005
bale tomb
Bale tombİKMC 19 Oct 2002

Eton College was the Patron of the living from 1443 until the end of the 19th century.

Manor house
Church with 15th century tower and Manor House.İKMC 8 Oct 2005

The church is adjacent to an Elizabethan Manor built in 1620 by Sir William Jones, altered and enlarged by C.Bateman in 1916. In King Charles' time, it was the home of William Lenthall, the speaker of the House of Commons in the Long Parliament. There is a memorial to his parents in North Leigh.

In 1919 David Freeman-Mitford, Lord Redesdale, moved into the Manor house with his son and 6 daughters, later famous as 'The Mitford Sisters', Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah. They lived there until 1926 when they moved to Swinbrook where some of them are buried. Deborah married the Duke of Devonshire and spent her married life at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. She gave one of the new bells of 2005 in memory of her siblings.

Inside the church:

he North chapel was a chantry chapel of Burford Priory. The walls are 12th century, the remainder 14th.

North chapel
North chapel with effigy. İKMC 8 Oct 2005
Thought to be Lady Joan Cornwall,
wife of the grandson of King John.

Fire destroyed the rood loft in the 1870s, and damaged the bell frame and the original treble. A Victorian restoration took place in the late 1890s including wall paintings and ceiling and a chancel arch with beakheads.

wall painting
Victorian wall painting İKMC 12 Oct 2005
painted ceiling
and painted ceiling İKMC 12 Oct 2005

chancel arch
Restored chancel arch İKMC 8 Oct 2005
This is a Norman Revival chancel arch dating from the Victorian restoration. The decoration is 'beak heads', normally found on the outside of a church decorating a porch doorway, as in Windrush.
beak heads
Victorian beak heads İKMC 12 Oct 2005

There are several mass dials on the southern wall of the nave but no sundial or modern clock in the tower in 2006.

mass dial
Mass dial western end S side İKMC 12 Oct 2005
2nd mass dial
Mass dial on buttress eastern end of S side İKMC 12 Oct 2005

old clock
The parish chest and old clock İKMC 8 Oct 2005

The old clock was probably made by a local blacksmith between 1665 and 1680. For about 250 years it was located in the tower and had to be wound daily. It was taken out after the coming of the railways which brought 'Railway Time' from London into the country. The earliest reference to the clock in the Churchwarden's account book is dated 25 March 1856, when Wm.Haggitt received £ 2-0-0 'for attendance on the clock'.

In 1985 it was re-sited in the N aisle and renovated by Mr K.L.Beak. The old parish chest is nearby.

These details are summarised from the pages of information displayed by the clock. It has features in common with the clocks at Church Hanborough and Hanwell in Oxfordshire and with those at Tingewick and Cuddington in Buckinghamshire.

The points of interest are..

  • It's 'Transitional' design half-way between Verge & Foliot and Anchor Escapement.
  • It has an early pendulum but retains a vertical verge or wand as used since c.1380 in Salisbury Cathedral's clock.
  • It struck the hours on a bell and had neither dial nor hands.
  • It was never modified to run for longer than a day nor to keep good time. In a week, it probably either lost or gained an hour.

Points of interest in church:
  • North chapel, a chantry chapel served from Burford Priory, with a stone altar which has a built-in Piscina
  • Effigy under a decorated canopy
  • Chancel arch with beakheads
  • Old turret clock
  • C12th font
Travel Details: OS Grid Ref: SP287114

Local points of interest for non ringers:

Elizabethan Manor House nearby, scratch mass dials and Cotswold bale and table tombs.

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