St Mary’s has a fine ring of 10 bells (tenor 18 cwt). If enough people are present, we can ring all 10; the back 8 or the front 6 make for good alternative combinations.
There is a weekly practice every Thursday from 7.45-9.30pm. Sunday ringing is from 9.30-10am, and from 6-6.30pm. (For a very few Sundays in the year, these times are changed when the times of services change.)
We try to ring a quarter peal monthly (usually at 5pm on a Sunday). We are also allowed a maximum of 4 attempts each year on the bells for a full peal. The most recent full peal was on Boxing Day 2018, which took 3 hours 5 minutes with over 5000 changes, and was to mark the 200th anniversary of the first peal on the bells on Boxing Day 1818. Here is a recording of part of the peal:
The present band comprises a very wide range of both age and ability and we ring variously from rounds & call changes to surprise depending on who is present. We welcome all ringers to join us at our practices or for Sunday ringing. We are delighted to see any visitors who are passing through or nearby Wallingford. We are particularly interested to hear of anyone wishing to learn to ring, or to take up ringing again after some time away. Please contact the tower captain or the tower secretary (contact details below) or just turn up on a practice night.
The original tower was destroyed by lightning on Ascension Day 1638. It was rebuilt by Will Loader, a former mayor and builder, in 1653, with materials from the recently demolished Wallingford Castle
Church manuscripts record that in 1552 St. Mary’s had three bells and one Sanctus bell.
When the tower was rebuilt in 1653, our unique bell frame was constructed of Spanish chestnut, from timbers reputed to be taken from the castle, to house a ring of six bells.
In 1738 the frame was increased in size and the bells were replaced by a ring of 8 from the Whitechapel Foundry. No. 2 bell was recast in 1887.
In 1999 the 8 bells and the frame were refurbished and the bells retuned in readiness to ring in the new millennium.
In 2003, two new bells and an upper two-bell frame to augment the ring to 10 were cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and given to St. Mary’s by Lord Bill Bradshaw in memory of his wife, Lady Jill Bradshaw who was one of the ringers.
|Treble||2003||Whitechapel Bell Foundry||G||5-0-20|
|No. 2||2003||Whitechapel Bell Foundry||F||5-1-10|
|No. 3||1738||Phelps & Lester||E flat||5-1-15|
|No. 4||1887||Mears & Stainbank||D||5-1-24|
|No. 5||1738||Phelps & Lester||C||6–0–9|
|No. 6||1738||Phelps & Lester||B||6-2-14|
|No. 7||1738||Phelps & Lester||A flat||8–2–26|
|No. 8||1738||Phelps & Lester||G||10–1–06|
|No. 9||1738||Phelps & Lester||F||13–2–07|
|Tenor||1738||Phelps & Lester||E flat||18–3–26|
Access to the tower is via a small door on the west side of the church just behind the tower.