ODG Guild Header
Established January 17 1881
St. Michael, Bray, Berks
East Berks & South Bucks branch of the ODG
St. Michael, Bray
St. Michael, Bray © PB 04 Apr 2004
Dedication: Sthttp://odg.org.uk/history/ebsb/index.php. Michael, Bray

Service Ringing: Sun 9.20, 6.00

Practice night: Thu 8.00pm

Availability and Restrictions

  1. Visiting ringers : written (or email) request is required. Permission is subject to there not being any weddings or other events on the date requested. No visitors in Lent.
  2. Quarter peals: our own quarter peals are normally rung before Evensong on Sunday evenings, but if visitors wish to ring a quarter some other time this is not usually a problem (subject to conditions in 1).
  3. Peals: we are allowed six peals per year, on Sunday afternoons. Applications to Tower Captain.
The Bells (8) 24-0-27

  • Audibility: 3-4 - (On a scale of 1 to 5, 1=faint 5=very loud)
Access to ringing chamber: Tower access is on the west (left) side of the tower; there are 28 steps to the ringing chamber.

The following information comes from Andrew Bull
The inscriptions are taken from F. Sharpe The Church Bells of Berkshire. He visited the tower in 1970.

Frame: Steel low type Whitechapel Bellfoundry, 1985.
Gear: Cast iron headstocks, Fixed steel gudgeons, Self-aligning ball-bearings, Traditional English type wheels, Traditional stays.
Headstocks by Whitechapel Bellfoundry, 1985, remainder Warner 1914, Gillett & Johnston 1948.
Retuned in 1985.

A ring of 8, tenor 24-0-27, tuned to D
Bell Weight
cwt-qr-lb
Strike
Note
Date
cast
Founder Foundry
location
Inscription
Treble 6-2-24 D 1948 Gillett & Johnston Croydon TO THE MEMORY OF
ANTHONY BARKER, R.A.F.
KILLED OVER FRANCE JULY 1944
PER ARDUA AD ASTRA
9593
1
19(J)48
GILLETT & JOHNSTON
CROYDON
2 7-0-21 C# 1948 Gillett & Johnston Croydon PRESENTED BY JOHN HARRISON
IN EVER GRATEFUL MEMORY OF
HIS BELOVED WIFE BEATRICE ETHYLL
WHO DIED AT BRAY
5 May 1946
6594
2
19(J)48
GILLETT & JOHNSTON
CROYDON
E. S. C. LOWMAN, VICAR
3 7-0-16 B 1678 Henry Knight III Reading FEAR GOD HONOVR THE KING 1678
4 8-2-4 A 1612 Henry Knight I Reading HENRX KNXGHT MADE THXS BELL ANO X6X2 [Cross] RG. HP. EL. TW.
5 9-1-24 G 1612 Henry Knight I Reading HENRX KNXGHT MADE THXS BELL ANO X6X3
6 12-0-10 F# 1914 John Warner & Sons London RECAST BY JOHN WARNER AND SONS LONDON 1914
PERPETUIS ANNIS MEMOR ESTO MARIAE
IOHANNIS CUJUS SUBCURA FUERAS MALA PELLE FUTURA
T. MEARS FECIT.
REVD. EDWARD TOWNSEND, VICAR.
GEO. SANDERS, WM. BAKER, CHURCHWARDENS—
7 16-1-20 E 1771 Thomas Swain Longford THOSS WARD WM LEE CHURCHWARDENS J77J [Trade mark of Thomas Swain, thrice]
Tenor 24-0-27 D 1656 Ellis II & Henry Knight II Reading 1656

Notes:

Incised on the sixth bell:-
THIS BELL WAS RECAST 1914.
REV. CHAS. ANDREWS RAYMOND, VICAR.
FREDERICK ISLAY PITMAN, FREDERICK THOS. FORD, CHURCHWARDENS.


Architecture:

Bray church was built at the end of the C 13th to replace a Saxon church on a different site. The early C 14th tower houses one of the finest heavy rings of 8 bells in the diocese.

The massive, embattled tower was built in four stages, the ground stage being the porch and main entrance to the church. The worn stone benches in the porch suggest that it used to be a meeting place for the village. It was built of hard chalk, known as clunch, contrasting with the Bath stone used in the C 19th alterations. The second stage is the ringing chamber; the third contains the clock and bells (which have a total weight of nearly five tons) and the fourth (where the bells used to be) now has a viewing gallery over the bells, put in as part of the restoration in 1985. The viewing gallery may be visited provided a Bray ringer is present and willing to escort visitors.

The Font is in the south west corner of the church. An entry in the churchwardens’ accounts of the time shows that the ‘new phaunt cost £3 15s 9d, including carving, painting, gyldeing the lid and setting up’. The font was described in J W. Walker’s History of Maidenhead (quoted anonymously) as the ‘the latest bit of pure Gothic in England before the Victorian revival’.

The ‘Judge’ Brass. The brass known as The Judge, Sir William Laken 1475, Justice of the King’s Bench is to the left of the west door.

Ancient Coffin lids. Ancient stone coffin lids with inscriptions round the edge are on either side of the west door.

The Brasses of St. Michael’s Church. For the convenience of would-be brass rubbers, a set of the main examples in the church is placed at a convenient height along the side of the choir vestry at the west end of the north aisle.

The Benefactions Board fixed against the east side of the choir vestry, provides a list of benefactors to the parish and an account of their good deeds, including Archbishop Laud, who was beheaded in January 1645.

Other Brasses and Memorials in the church include; The Foxley Brass (1378), The Hanger Memorial, The William Paule Monument (1685), the Page Brass (1610), William Norris Memorial (1591), The Goddard Monument (early C 17th).The Rixman Brass, William Smythe Brass, Brasses to William Dyer and Thomas atte Lude. (Dyer was vicar in 1296).

The East Window above the altar was designed by G. E. Street, executed by Wailes and erected by John Hibbert of Braywick Lodge in memory of his father. The window was used in 1972 as a design for Easter stamps of Anguilla and again in 1991 for stamps of Montserrat.

The St. Michael Window is the work of W. G. Taylor, who joined the firm of O’Connor in 1873 and ultimately took over the firm in 1877. The window shows St. Michael and Jacob’s dream. It was presented by friends in memory of the vicar, William Brassey Hole, who died in 1887. All the stained glass in St. Michael’s was set in place within roughly thirty years in the latter half of the C 19th.

The Plumbers’ Mark of 1738 is on the south wall beside the entrance door to the church. A note about its discovery is attached below the mark.

For a more detailed account of St. Michael’s church and the surrounding village of Bray, see the book “Bray Today and Yesterday - The History of a Thames-side Village” by Nan Birney, in the 1998 version edited by Richard Russell. (ISBN 0 9533106 0 4, £17.99 - copies still available).

The Clock:

Installed in 1840 by J. Whitehurst of Derby, a forerunner of the present company, Smiths of Derby, believed to be one of a small number of its type. There is one clock hammer to pull off before ringing.

Points of interest in church:

The church itself is not normally open except for set hours in summer when there are ‘church watchers’ on duty. However, there is a glass inner porch so visitors can actually see into the church without going in.

For safety reasons visitors are not normally permitted to visit the roof of the tower.

Church facilities: Toilet behind the church. Ringers have the keys. Two steps down to ladies

Travel Details: OS Grid Ref: SU902797 - Cars should not be parked in the churchyard. There may be space in the church driveway, otherwise parking is by the village green or in the village car park; both a short walk from the hurch.

Eating Places: There are now only two pubs in the village – both old and interesting buildings:
  • The Hind’s Head Hotel (through the Lych Gate). Now owned by Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck. Nice pub but food is expensive.
  • The Crown (other end of the High Street). Also nice pub, food not quite so expensive but remember this IS Bray!
If you want ‘ordinary pub grub’ it’s probably better to go elsewhere – there are several suitable establishments in the next village – Holyport, which is in the Parish of Bray (about a mile south of Bray).

Local points of interest for non ringers: Bray High Street contains a number of old houses, plus Jesus Hospital, the almshouses run by the Fishmongers' Company and founded by William Goddard in the 17th century and whose memorial is in church.

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