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St. Mary, Childrey, Oxon
Old North Berks branch of the ODG
St. Mary, Childrey
St. Mary, Childrey ęKMC 30 Mar 2002
On a clear day standing just outside the West door you can see as far as the Cotswolds to the North. In Spring there are lambs gambolling in the field to the west.
Dedication: St. Mary, Childrey

Service Ringing: Sun by arrangement

Practice night: Wed 7.30pm

Availability and Restrictions:

  • Visiting ringers: Yes
  • Quarter Peals: Yes
  • Peals: Yes
The Bells (8) 12-0-4, One clock hammer to pull off. Restored and augmented to 8 in 2005.

Access to ringing chamber: Ground floor. Enter through West Door.

The bell details in the table below are taken from a certificate, which hangs in the ringing chamber, of the restoration and augmentation of the ring to 8 in 2005.

The Bishop of Reading conducted a' Dedication of the Bells' service on Monday, 27th February 2006.

Two new trebles were cast, the old treble recast and the ring tuned by The Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Whites of Appleton rehung the bells with new fittings in the existing strengthened wrought iron frame (F. Webb 1907).

The inscriptions on the old six come from F. Sharpe The Church Bells of Berkshire. He visited the tower in 1939. The inscriptions on the 3 new bells cast in 2005 were transcribed by Kate and David Crennell on a visit to the belfry in March 2006.

We are grateful to Brian Winsley for the information about the clock and for showing us the tower.

A ring of 8, tenor 12-0-4, tuned to Ab
Bell Weight
Diameter Strike
Founder Foundry
treble 3-0-17 23½ Ab 2005 Whitechapel London DONATED BY
(see below)
2 3-1-14 24 G 2005 Whitechapel London (blank - anonymous donor)
3 3-3-25 26 F 2005 Whitechapel London IN MEMORY OF
1904 - 1997
20 [M] 05
(and on the opposite side in the inscription band)
(and on the waist)
4 3-2-26 27¼ Eb 1770 Pack & Chapman Whitechapel [E11] PACK & CHAPMAN OF LONDON FECIT 1770 JOHN LAWRENCE & JOHN BUSH CH. WARDENS
5 4-3-4 30¼ Db 1907 Mears & Stainbank Whitechapel MEARS & STAINBANK, FOUNDERS, LONDON.
RECAST A.D. 1907.
6 7-0-10 327/8 C 1639 Ellis Knight I Reading R • A • I • H • CHVRCHWARDENS X639
7 8-3-7 365/8 Bb 1639 Ellis Knight I Reading SANCTA ANNA ORA PRONOBIS
Tenor 12-0-4 40 Ab 1632 Ellis Knight I Reading W • B   X • V CHVRCHWARDENS X632
Sanctus 1-0-0#     1806 James Wells Aldbourne JAMES WELLS ALDBOURN WILTS FECIT 1806 .·. .·. .·. .·.

  1. The two new bells have on the waists of their reverse sides:
    20 [Founders mark] 05

    An example is shown below.
  2. Each “N” on the seventh is reversed.
Founders mark
ęKMC 17 Mar 2006
Reverse of new bell showing the bellhangers and founders marks.
Treble Inscription
ęKMC 17 Mar 2006
Inscription on the waist and an example of a Whitechapel border in the inscription band of the treble.

The parish of Childrey has a long history going back to Anglo-Saxon times. It was carved out of the adjoining parish of Sparsholt, which belonged to the Abbey of Abingdon. The name Childrey means Cillarithe or Cilla’s Brook. Childrey was created for Cilla, the sister of the first Abbot of Abingdon in 632.

Duck pondęKMC 31 Mar 2002The duck pond.
Manor HouseęKMC 31 Mar 2002
The Manor House which was the home of the Fettiplace family.
Church Architecture

Childrey has an important cruciform church on the northern edge of this attractive downland village with wide views from the churchyard. Like many Anglo-Saxon churches the first one at Childrey must have been wooden and no trace of it survives. The first record of a church in Childrey is 995 AD. Although originally Norman, much of the appearance of the present church is now 14th and 15th century.

St Mary's Childrey is a Grade One mediæval church and it is not possible to list and describe all its delights in this small space. It needs to be visited!

The lower part of the Nave is late 12th century, the rest being rebuilt in the 15th century. The present wooden ceiling is 19th century except for a panelled bay at the east end. The nave has blocked north and south doors, a Royal Coat of arms of George III and a 12th century font (shown below, left).

The Chancel is 13th century. Its stalls contain some mediæval wood. There are brasses in the chancel and near the altar. A rather touching memorial to members of the Old Berkshire Hunt killed in the First World War is by the door in the nave; the East Window was given in their memory.

The North Transept was built c. 1325 and was founded as a chantry in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Edmund de Cheirey in 1368. The north window has glass from the 14th century which has been restored at various times in its history. There is also a recently conserved effigy on the north wall.

The South Transept was built around 1325. It was made into a chantry in 1526, only a few years before the chantries were abolished at the Reformation, by William Fettiplace in honour of the Holy Trinity. He lived in the manor house (above right) and his memorial brasses for himself (d. 1525) and his wife, Elizabeth (d. 1516) are shown below right. Other memorials to members of the Fettiplace family can be found at Appleton and Swinbrook.

Lead fontęKMC 16 Apr 2001The rare lead font is probably 12th century and thought to be the oldest of its type. The design is a frieze of 12 moulded abbots in chasubles, each abbot has a crozier turned inwards in one hand and a book in the other. BrassesęKMC 1 Jan 2005 Brass memorials at the edge of the south transept with the old squint on the right.

The organ at the west end of the nave is by Martin & Coate, Oxford c. 1900.

Porch and South Doorway. The doorway is late 12th century and has an arch with Norman decoration. The present porch roof was built in 1710.

The Tower dates from c.1450 and is of three stages. It was restored in 1741.

Information taken from: A History & Guide to the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Childrey by the Revd. Alan Wadge M.A. dated March 2000.

The Clocks

The tower clock
There is one clock hammer to pull off before ringing.

The wooden dial 'is on the diamond' and has Roman numerals.(see photo on left below)
The clock is unusual in having only one hand. The clock mechanism was made by George Nethercott of Wantage in 1763 although it incorporates older parts. He used a chain link to hang the pendulum to one side to avoid getting in the way of either the winding mechanism or the leading-off rod. This rod goes through a small window in the tower wall to drive the gilded hand outside.

His name is engraved on the setting dial along with those of the Churchwardens J.Lawrence and R.Hatten. This dial also has four ornamental tooth-like projections; each tooth carries one figure of the date - 1763. (See photo below on right)
The drive rod for the single hand can be seen projecting from the centre of the cogwheel.

The bars of the four-poster frame bear the mark of the Swedish firm 'Forge Ferna'. (see central photo below)

The clock was wound daily by hand by Mr Bert Rowland for many years, until the generosity of Mr Tom Maples and Mr John Putt enabled it to be mechanised in 1986 when it was refurbished and electrified. It then struck the hours and halves on the treble bell until July 2005 when the bells were taken out for restoration.

Clock face
ęKMC 17 Mar 2006
Clock face on the south of the tower; note the single hand, and small bell in the alcove above the window mould.
Clock mechanism
ęKMC 17 Mar 2006
Clock mechanism. the two drive drums at the bottom are no longer used; instead the two chain drives above run to new electric drives.
Strike Cam
ęKMC 17 Mar 2006
Brass cam for activating the strike; it turns once every two hours. Minute markings and the maker’s name are inscribed on it.

The Sun dials

There are two sun dials on the south-east corner of the south transept and several mass (or scratch) dials, two on the transept and one to the right of the South chancel door, and several more on the adjacent buttress.
ęKMC 17 Mar 2006
The pair of sun dials high on the south-east corner of the south transept, just below the electricity wires.
The one on the left has Roman numerals and scratches on an arc. That on the left is just a series of parallel lines with arabic numerals. The sundials were used to set the time of the clock before the coming of the railways.
Mass Dial
ęKMC 17 Mar 2006
The best preserved mass dial faces south on the south-west buttress of the south transept.
Two other dials can be seen just below it!

Points of interest in church
  • Tombs, carvings, memorial brasses, 16th century stained glass in north transept.
  • Late 12th century lead font
  • 18th century clock, several mass dials near small door in chancel and on buttress at SW corner of transept. 2 sundials, one facing South, the other East, on SE corner of S transept almost at the top of the wall, just beneath the electricity cable.
Church facilities: Sockets in church and tower to boil a kettle. Would need to provide own kettle, cutlery, crockery, etc.

Travel Details: OS Grid Ref: SU360878. In lane outside church.

Eating Places: Pub The Hatchet public House, High Street, Childrey

Local points of interest for non ringers:

  • Fine views to the Cotswolds over the Vale of the White Horse N of church
  • Pleasant village duck pond
  • The home of the Fettiplace family who lived in the nearby Manor House and endowed a south transept as a chantry chapel in 1526 where some of their tombs can be found. Later they endowed a school and alms houses here before they moved to Swinbrook. There is a Monument erected in 1593 to a John Fettiplace in Appleton St. Laurence.
  • The oldest Cedar of Lebanon in England is in the garden of the nearby Old Rectory.

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