Shinfield – St Mary the Virgin


Ring of 6 bells (11-3-13 / 603kg) in the key of F#.


Church Ln, Shinfield, Reading RG2 9DD

OS map ref. SU 729682 (map 175)


Click to view map.



A few cars can be parked on the road opposite the church.
There is also a small rectangular area of parking spaces situated among the new houses opposite the church, which has been designated a diocesan parking area (good luck with that!)


Ground floor ring with short draught.  The ‘go’ of the bells is fair – slow turning with big wheels.  There is slight odd-struckness, but no nasty surprises.  Audibility in the ringing room is good.

Entrance to the spacious ringing room is either through the West door of the tower, or through the church (up two steep steps).  Sunlight through the West window can be distracting, but curtains are provided.

Service ringing

Sunday mornings – 10:00am to 10:30am.
Sunday evenings – by arrangement.

Practice ringing

7:30pm to 9pm on Tuesdays after the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month.
The tower is bookable by other ringers, and is readily available by arrangement for outings, quarter-peals and peals.  (We ring at Swallowfield on Tuesdays after the 2nd and 4th Sunday)


There are toilets with disabled facilities in the church hall.
There are wide doors and ramps for wheelchair access to the church and church hall.  There is a first aid box at the back of church.  Fire extinguishers are located in the choir vestry in church.

Belfry fittings

There are canons on all of the bells.

Bell details

No. Weight  cwt qr lb Note Date Cast Founder Inscription
1 4-2-0 D 1730 John Waylett, London DAVID HEADLAND C W 1730 I W F
2 5-1-0 C 1664 Henry Knight II, Reading HONOVR THE KINGE 1664
3 6-0-0 Bb 1664 Henry Knight II, Reading HOPE IN GOD 1664
4 8-1-0 A 1722 Henry Bagley III, Reading? DAINELL HEADLAND : THOMAS HOLLYER :
5 10-0-0 G 1664 Henry Knight II, Reading REJOICE IN GOD 1664
6 11-3-13 F 1803 Thomas Mears I, Whitechapel PETER BODY ESQR JOHN ALLAWAY CHURCH WARDENS :


The village of Shinfield was granted by William the Conqueror to William FitzOsbern of Breteuil in Normandy, who ordered a church to be built, probably between 1069 and 1074.  It is possible that it was rebuilt or improved by Sir Roger de St John in about 1170.  The North Door is believed to date from that time.  The church at this time would have covered the area now occupied by the Nave and part of the Chancel.  The original roof lasted less than 100 years and was replaced in 1256 by Sir John de St John with the magnificent King Post Roof, which can be seen in the Nave.

The next main building phase added the South Aisle, probably between 1476 and 1526.  A South Door, now filled in, was present.  The first certain date is that of the construction of the Martyn Chapel in 1596, possibly on the foundations of a previous sacristy.  The Chapel was built by Edward Martyn, Queen Elizabeth I’s Bailiff of the Royal Manor of Shinfield, and it retains both the original Waggon-head ceiling and round-headed arches leading to the Chancel and South Aisle.  There is a stone dated 1596 to Martyn and his wife, Mary.

The present tower was built in 1664 after the previous steeple had been destroyed by cannon in the Civil War.  Restoration was carried out on the plans of Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1856.

The Bells

In 1552 The Commissioners’ Inventories state: “Shenfilde iiij belles in the stepull with a little bell hanging on the chauncell”. When the bells were examined in 1945 they were silent and in poor repair.  They continued to be swing-chimed by the choir until their restoration in 1976 by Whites of Appleton.  The tenor was re-weighed at 11cwt 3 qrs 13 lbs.  In 1976 the bells were rehung, quarter-turned in a new timber frame, one level below the old frame (which remains in situ).

On the Treble, the letters “I W F” stand for “John Waylett fecit”.  He was an itinerant founder, and the treble was probably cast in the churchyard at Shinfield.

The 4th bell was cast by Henry Bagley III, who normally cast in Northamptonshire, but in 1722 he had a temporary foundry in Reading.

Monuments and Brasses

  • A recent brass plaque to George and Mary Mitford, parents of Mary Russell Mitford, author of Our Village who is buried in Swallowfield;
  • Henry Beke, 1580;
  • Huick Steward, 1575, the earliest existing monument in the church, made of plaudina limestone;
  • Royal Coat of Arms, 1660, over the tower door, painted on oak and placed to denote the supremacy of the Monarch over the Pope;
  • Martyn Monument, 1609;
  • Charity Boards, in the tower, denoting various bequests from 1611 to 1729;
  • the Body family, four tablets from 1748-1933.

There is a recently restored marble and alabaster Monument dating from 1627 to Henry Beke, his wife and daughter, shown as three kneeling figures, with angels to the left and right holding open the drapery above the figures.

Several stained glass windows include a Millennium window designed by Lyn Clayden, a some-time ringer of Henley.

There is a brass listing Vicars of Shinfield from 1280 to the present day.

The communion table dates from 1633 and there are several interesting hatchment boards from 1845.  The Revd. Matthew Fielde is recorded in the church; he was the last vicar to live in the Old Rectory, now L’Ortolan Restaurant.