Bletchingley, St Mary the Virgin (ringing centre)
Practice Night: Wednesday
Ringing Times: Sunday Service: 9.15 - 9.45am. Practice: 7.30 - 9.15pm
Entry: Entry through the main church via the south door, or into the tower directly through the west door
Contact: Tower Captain: firstname.lastname@example.org Ed Muller
Ringing Centre: http://www.bletchingleyparishchurch.org.uk/ringingcentre.htm
St Mary’s is an historic church dating back over 900 years. It has a number of interesting features including a ‘Hermit’s Window’, a very large memorial to an 18th century benefactor and several stained glass windows and brasses.
The village of Bletchingley, an old market town with historic houses and pubs, is also renowned for at one time returning two Members of Parliament.
It is possible that bells have hung in the tower since about 1160, when an upper storey was added. The church certainly had bells in 1519 when the churchwardens’ accounts for that year record payment for the casting of a bell. In 1521, when Henry VIII visited Bletchingley, the ringers were paid a gallon of ale, and they were paid 6d to ring when Elizabeth I came.
The present bells were re-hung in 1989 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry who also augmented the ring to 10 in 1991 with the addition of two trebles.
Three of the bells (including the Tenor) are from the original ring of eight cast in 1780 by Thomas Janaway. At one time Bletchingley had its own ‘society of ringers’ - the rules still displayed in the ringing chamber, but the band now belongs to the Surrey Association.