Shiplake – St Peter & St Paul


Ring of 8 bells (9-0-15) in the key of G.


OS map ref. SU 767783 (map 175)
Click to view map.


In adjacent cul-de-sac lane or, for larger numbers, in the church hall car park at the entrance to Church Lane.


Ground floor ring, accessed via a door on the North side of the tower.  The door is not very wide, and there are three steps down into the ringing chamber.  Alternatively, at the back of the nave there is a door with one step up into the ringing chamber.

Service ringing

Sunday mornings –  these are the normal times, but please check
9.30 am to 10.00 am on the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Sunday

Practice ringing

Tuesday evenings – normally 7.30pm to 9.00pm.
Monthly Advanced Practice for the Reading Branch – on 3rd Thursday
from 8.00pm to 9.30pm (most months).


This tower is recognized by the CCCBR as a Ringing Centre.
In 2021 a new computer simulator was installed (replacing the 1999 original) with sensors on all eight bells. This  is an infra-red system. There is normally one practice evening per week with open clappers, with practices at other times using the simulator. In August 2010 after the restoration new video cameras were fitted above the bells and linked to a TV in the ringing room and shows the relationship between the ringer’s actions and the remote bells.

For further details, see the website :

The church and tower are heated daily in winter.  Toilets are available in ‘The Ark’ to the North of the church.

Belfry fittings

Access to the bells is via a fixed ladder from within the ringing chamber. The bells were completely re-cast in 2009 using Whitechapel Mk3 type bells.  They were fitted in a new steel and cast iron frame in 2010.


There are a dozen ringers in the band.

Bell details

Bell Name Inscription Date Cast Founder Weight  cwt qr lb
Treble Simon Peter The gift of Mavis and Cyril Crouch
“Although I am both light and small,
I will be heard above you all”
Laus Deo
2009 Whitechapel 3-0-3
2 Hilda The gift of Joyce and Keith Vernon
In memory of loved ones
2009 Whitechapel 3-0-19
3 Ignatius In loving memory of May and Col Dunesky 2009 Whitechapel 3-1-11
4 Paul In memory of Simon Grant Gallyer
1954 – 2007
“Of love I tell”
2009 Whitechapel 4-0-16
5 Luke The gift of the Pugsley family 2009 Whitechapel 4-3-7
6 Agatha In memory of Lilian Elizabeth Gallyer
1921 – 1984
“Of love I tell”
2009 Whitechapel 5-1-4
7 Katherine The gift of the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust 2009 Whitechapel 6-3-19
Tenor Edmund In loving memory of Kathleen Partridge 1917 – 1999
Joan Dove 1919 – 2002
2009 Whitechapel 9-0-15 in G#

The Old Bell details were as follows:

No. Weight  cwt qr lb Note Date Cast Founder Inscription
1 3-2-14 F# 1902 John Warner & Sons, Cripplegate CAST BY JOHN WARNER & SONS LTD IN 1902
2 4-0-9 E# 1902 John Warner & Sons, Cripplegate CAST BY JOHN WARNER & SONS LTD IN 1902
3 4-0-26 D# 1868 John Warner & Sons, Cripplegate CAST BY JOHN WARNER & SONS LTD LONDON 1902 :
4 4-2-5 C# 1902 John Warner & Sons, Cripplegate RECAST BY JOHN WARNER & SONS LTD LONDON 1902 :
5 5-0-17 B 1902 John Warner & Sons, Cripplegate RECAST BY JOHN WARNER & SONS LTD LONDON 1902 :
6 6-1-2 A# 1868 John Warner & Sons, Cripplegate RECAST BY JOHN WARNER & SONS LTD LONDON 1868 :
(Royal Arms) PATENT
7 7-3-5 G# 1925 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel T.MEARS 1790 :
8 9-2-15 F# 1925 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel ROBERT PATRICK, FOUNDER 1784 :



The South aisle and the tower were built separately and date from c.1140.  Written records dated 1163 show Shiplake church was “appropriated” with its tithes by Missenden Abbey in Bucks.  Thus, the abbey became rector of Shiplake and in return, it provided a priest to minister there on the rector’s behalf.  From this practice of a priest being present on someone else’s behalf, the word ‘vicar’ originated.

About 100 years later, the lord of the manor, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, a brother of Henry III, built the nave to join the parts together.  The original church became the Lady Chapel through which we enter the church today.

The altar in the lady Chapel is a memorial to the men of Shiplake who died in World War I.  On the south wall of the Lady Chapel there is a C12th piscina and, near the door, a small monumental brass dated 1540.  The C19th font is a copy of a Norman font at Iffley, Oxford.

The one stone pillar (the others being of chalk) supports carving from the C13th, thought to be the heads of the Abbott of Missenden, Henry III and his brother Richard of Cornwall.  The pulpit, of Jacobean origin, came from All Saints Dorchester, Dorset; it was given in memory of the second Baron Phillimore and dedicated by the Bishop of Dorchester, Oxon, in 1980.  An alabaster reredos dates from the 1869-70 restoration of the church; the canopied chair, used by the Bishop, is thought to be of C15th belonging to an abbess in Northern France.  The medieval glass at various points of the church is French and came from the ruined Abbey of St Bertin, in St Omer, where Thomas à Becket took refuge from Henry II.  The chalice is Elizabethan; the other Communion plate dates from the late C17th.

The tower has a doorway opening on the eastern side at the level of the clock room, just below the belfry, which leads outside with no visible signs of a staircase.  This may date from the time when the priest was supplied by Missenden Abbey and used to lodge in the tower.

The poet, Alfred Tennyson, married Emily Selwood, cousin of the incumbent’s wife, here on 13 June 1850.

This information is taken from a guide to the church, written by the vicar, Norman Print, in 1987.

The North door of the tower was made in Victorian times.

More renovation took place between 2002 and 2003. A memorial wall clock now hangs in the Shiplake College Great Hall; it was relocated to permit the installation of loudspeakers for the new digital organ, the console for which is on the northern side of the chancel.  A new choir vestry / kitchen was created in the north corner when the pipe organ was removed, with glass panels closing it off from the main aisle.

The Bells

The earliest reference to Shiplake’s bells is in an inventory dating from the reign of Edward VI (1547 -53) “Item: Three belles in ye steeple”.

The churchwarden’s accounts for 1699 state that nine guineas were paid to the bellfounder for casting a bell.

Rope guides were added comparatively recently, making this notoriously flighty eight much more enjoyable to ring!  There are some interesting small bells, mounted and with a striking hammer inside the tower.  High above the ladder inside the tower is a monk’s head carved in the stone wall.

By 1850 when Tennyson was married in this church there were five bells, augmented by adding a treble in 1868 and two more trebles in 1902 to commemorate the long reign of Queen Victoria.

In 1925 the 7th and tenor bells were recast, the peal retuned, the bell frame strengthened and the bells rehung in new bearings.

In 2003 a computer simulator was installed with sensors on all eight bells.  This is an infra-red system.  There is normally one practice evening per week with open clappers, with practices at other times using the simulator.  In 2004 the clappers were fitted with a type of ‘double muffle’ made from sections of a rubber vehicle tyre, the tyre walls being on each side of the clapper.  These are easily twisted round so that the clapper strikes the bell when the bells are rung unmuffled.

In August 2003 a video camera were fitted above and below a demonstration bell and linked to a TV in the ringing room; it automatically switches between cameras about every 12 seconds, and show the relationship between the ringer’s action and the remote bell.