Walton-on-Thames, St Mary
Practice Night: Friday
Ringing Times: Sunday Service: 9.30-10.00am , ; 6.00-6.30pm. Practice: 7.45-9.15 pm (door locked at 8pm)
Entry: The tower door will be open until 8.00 pm after which time there is a bell entry system.The porch door to the tower does not fit exactly to the top. Put your hand over the edge you will find a bell push. Push this and we will come down to let you in.
Contact: Tower Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org Hilary Brooks
Walton is fortunate in that its ancient parish church, albeit heavily restored in places, has survived to the present day without, like so many parish churches, having been knocked down and completely rebuilt in the 19th century.
The early history of the church is unknown, but scientific investigations suggest the earliest structure on the site could date from around 700AD. In 1086, according to the Domesday Book, there was a church at Walton on land which became part of the manor of Walton Leigh; this church was probably a small wooden structure because the earliest surviving parts, in the north aisle, of the existing stone church are Norman (c.1150). Following the Norman conquest, the present church was rebuilt about the middle of the 12 century. Most of the present building dates from the 14th and 15th Centuries. The chancel was rebuilt in the 14th century, and a south aisle was added at about the same time. The square tower at the west end was probably added in the 15th century, but was restored, particularly by the addition of brick buttresses in the early 19th century. Early in the 17th century the walls of the north aisle were raised by brickwork to accommodate an additional gallery inside the church; the join between the original stone wall and the additional brickwork can clearly be seen on the west wall of the church. In the Nave on the left are five pillars, which together with parts of the west wall, are part of the original Norman church.
On the left in the North Aisle is the Selwyn Brass, dated 1587. It commemorates John Selwyn, gamekeeper at Oatlands Palace for Queen Elizabeth I. Next stands the memorial to Field Marshall Viscount Shannon who lived in Ashley House and died in 1740. It was commissioned by his daughter, Lady Middlesex, from Louis Francois Roubilliac, the famous sculptor then active in England. There is a memorial to Dr. Matthew Kirby DD and his wife Elizabeth. His wife’s charities helped to found the Walton on Thames Charity which still administers local almshouses - now renamed as Sheltered Accommodation for the Elderly. William Lilly is commemorated here by a memorial slab on the chancel floor. A well known character and foremost astrologer in the 17th Century. He practised medicine under licence form the Archbishop of Canterbury and was a double agent in the Civil War. Accused of starting the Great Fire of London, having forecast the event 15 years earlier, he cleared his name before a Parliamentary Committee. He later became a Churchwarden and a benefactor to the church and needy of the area. The memorial over the south door, which now leads to the choir vestry, is to the family of Admiral Lord Rodney.
By the west door is the ANZAC Memorial, in memory of New Zealanders who died at their hospital at Mount Felix, in Walton. Their graves are in the cemetery adjacent to the church in Terrace Road. Bernard Smith built the first organ in 1673 for Charles II’s private chapel in Windsor Castle. It was then brought to Walton in 1711 and installed in the west gallery. A new electronic organ is now in use, although the original casing and some of Smith’s prospect pipes are retained for aesthetic purposes, and to satisfy English Heritage.
There are eight bells in the tower, three cast in the period 1606 - 1610, one in 1651, another in 1726 and the remaining three in 1883 by Warners who undertook a major rehanging and recasting of a 15th century bell by a London Founder inscribed “In multis Annis Resonet Campana Johanna”. The total weight of the existing bells is approximately 7 tons. The current bells are as follows:
Treble 2'6" 6.0.0 1883 By John Warner & Sons
2nd 2'8" 6.2.0 1883 By John Warner & Sons
3rd 2'9½" 7.1.0 1726 Inscribed “The gift of John Palmer, Esq., High Sheriff of the County”
4th 2'11" 8.0.0 1608 By Joseph Carter
5th 3'0" 9.0.0 1606 By Richard Eldridge inscribed “Our Hope is in the Lord”
6th 3'4" 11.0.0 1883 By John Warner & Sons - this was the old 15c. bell recast
7th 3'9" 15.0.0 1610 By William Carter
Tenor 4'1½" 21.2.0 1651 By Brian Eldridge - bears the names of two churchwardens, John Taylor and Thomas James