Tilehurst – St Michael

Bells

Ring of 8 bells (17-1-15 / 883kg) in the key of E.

Location

New Lane Hill, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks RG30 4JX
OS map ref. SU 673729 (map 175)
Click to view map.
Click for church website.

Parking

A few dozen parking spaces around the church, some in New Lane Hill (lay-by) and some in Routh Lane (hard-standing).

Access/Height

Access into church via the New Extension door to the north of the Tower.  The ringing chamber is reached by an internal, spiral, iron staircase of 18 steps, with a handrail.  The staircase is surrounded by a steel grill and secured with locked doors at top and bottom.  The draught is average and audibility is good-to-loud.  Access to the belfry is by a long, fixed, wooden ladder.

Service ringing

Sunday mornings – 9:00am to 9:25am
Sunday evenings – usually 5:30pm to 6:30pm*
* Occasionally Quarter Peals are rung in the evening so please check if there is normal service ringing. Refer to Church Web site for Service times –
St Michael’s Service times.

Practice ringing

Wednesday evenings – 7:30pm to 9pm.  When the New Extension door is locked, use the doorbell on the West door at the base of the tower.

Facilities

Emergency back-up lighting, first aid box and fire extinguisher.
Also equipped with a Ringing Simulator and a clock.  A kitchen and toilets are available in the church extension.

Belfry fittings

One clock hammer on the tenor bell.  Roller bearings.
Ash wood stays.  Oak wood frame.

Ringers

About 12-16 regular ringers.  Training provided for beginners and intermediate ringers.  Quarter peals approximately every month.  Annual outing.  Annual ringers’ dinner and other social events.

Bell details

No. Weight  cwt qr lb Note Date Cast Founder Inscription
1 5-0-2 E 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd MEARS & STAINBANK FOUNDERS LONDON :
IN CALEDONIS AFEXANONI MEMORIAM CONNUBIALIS QUE PEA XL ANNOS
FELICITATIS ME ET SOROREM MEAM DD VIDUA EJUS CAROLINA
2 5-3-13 D# 1885 Mears & Stainbank MEARS & STAINBANK FOUNDERS LONDON :
CALEDON DU PRE ALEXANDER OBIIT XVIIImo DIE QUINT AD1884 AETAT LXVI
3 7-0-10 C# 1723 Henry Bagley III HENRY BAGLEY MADE MEE ANNO DOMINI 1723 :
CANTATE DOMINO CANTICUM NOVVM
4 8-0-23 B 1723 Henry Bagley III THOMAS STEVENS : WILLIAM BOULT : CHURCH WARDENS :
HENREY BAGLEY MADE MEE 1723
5 8-0-12 A 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd HENREY BAGLEY MADE MEE IN YER OF OUR LORD 1723 :
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD
6 10-2-1 G# 1723 Henry Bagley III THOMAS STEVENS : WILLIAM BOULT :
CHURCH WARDENS : H B
7 12-0-13 F# 1978 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd WILLIAM COWDEROY : WILLIAM KNIGHT :
BE IT KNOWN TO ALL THAT DO ME SEE THAT H B OF READING
MADE ME IN YE YER OF OUR LORD 1723
8 17-1-15 E 1723 Henry Bagley III THOMAS WALKER RECTOR :
WILLIAM BOULT : THOMAS STEVENS : CHURCH WARDENS :
BE IT KNOWN TO ALL THAT HEARE MEE SINGE
THAT H BAGLEY OF READING MADE THIS RING 1723 :
WHEN I RING OR TOLL, MY VOICE IS SPENT
THAT MEN MAY COME AND HEARE GOD’S WORD, AND SO REPENT

History

There has been a Christian church dedicated to St Michael on this site in Tilehurst since 1189, about 70 years after Reading Abbey was founded.  The church was served by the monks of Reading Abbey until the Dissolution.  In 1542 the parish was transferred from the Diocese of Salisbury to the Diocese of Oxford.  The first church building here was probably made of wood and no trace remains of it.  Several other buildings may have followed.
The oldest part of the present church is the south aisle, now called the Lady Chapel, which was built round about 1300.
The tower was built in the 1730s.  The spire was added at the time of re-building in 1855 to G.E.Street’s design.

The Bells

Originally there were six bells in the tower, tung from the ground floor.  These were cast at Reading in the year 1723 by Henry Bagley III, believed to be on the site of a mediaeval foundry now extinct but previously owned by Joseph Carter, the last of the famous Wokingham founders dating from the 14th century.

In 1885 the bells were rehung in a new oak frame, two trebles by Mears & Stainbank of London were added to complete the octave, being dedicated to the memory of Du Pre Alexandra.
Ringing continued from the ground floor until 1906 when the present floor and screen were erected.

In 1937 the eight bells were fitted with ball bearings, rehung in the existing frame which was quarter turned and reassembled on girders replacing decayed timbers.

In 1970, the treble and 5th were recast, and the other bells were tuned, by Whitechapel.  The bells were rehung in the oak frame of 1885 with mainly new fittings (cast iron headstocks, fixed steel gudgeons, self-aligning ball bearings, and traditional English wheels, stays and sliders).
In 1978, the 7th was found to be unsafe and was recast by Whitechapel.  The inscriptions given above for the treble, 5th and 7th are to be confirmed.

Contact

tilehurst@reading.odg.org.uk