Shiplake Ringing Centre

In Memoriam to a Shiplake Ringer
The Plowden Arms as it is today.
The Plowden Arms as it is today

Owen William Porter (1870-1955) lived in the Plowden Arms, Shiplake, then called the Plough Hotel, for all his long life: taking over as landlord after the death of his mother, who ran the hotel before him.

A man of many interests, one of them being a writer of poetry, his main hobby was Church Bell Ringing. He was a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths and Captain of the Shiplake Tower for many years.

In his early days of ringing the only entrance to the tower was through the church. Now several of the ringers worked on the land and being obliged to do some work on Sunday with cattle, etc., they made time to go ringing, but left church before morning service started in order to return to work.

The Tower Door as made by Owen Porter

The Vicar disapproved of this action although they stayed for the evening service. Confrontation broke out between Vicar and ringers with the ringers going on strike.

O. W. P., as he was affectionately known, wrote to the Bishop of Oxford. The Church Wardens must have held a meeting, as an architect was engaged to design a doorway into the tower from the churchyard with an oak door. A mason was employed to make the opening and carry out the stone and flint work. Mr. Porter, being a skilled carpenter, made the door, which is still in use.

Peace returned to the tower and ringing has taken place since then except for a short period during the Second World War. This door could be his fitting memorial.

(Written in 1987 by another member of the College Youths who became his son-in-law) - August 1987

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