St Mary’s Church

Upcoming Events

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The foundation date of the earliest church at Collingbourne Kingston is unknown. The flint, rubble and stone building we see today dates mostly from the late 11th century when the nave, arcades and aisles were built. The chancel arch dates from the 13th century when the chancel was reconstructed. In the 15th century the tower and porch were erected and most of the aisle windows renewed. In the early 18th century the clerestory windows were replaced and the nave roof redesigned and a west gallery installed. This was in turn removed in the restoration of the nave under the direction of John Colson in 1861-2. The original dedication of the church was to John the Baptist. At a time and for reasons unknown, this was changed to the present St Mary. Among the memorials, that of the Pile family dominates the south side of the chancel, being a large canopied renaissance structure with fine carved figures of Sir Thomas, his son Gabriel, their wives and children.

The story of the St Mary’s Church in the recent past has been one of amalgamation beginning in 1963 when our vicarage was combined with the Rectory of Collingbourne Ducis, the latter becoming the place of residence for the priest of both parishes. In 1975 Everleigh Rectory was further included in the Benefice, which in turn became part of the wider Wexcombe Benefice in 1979. Then in 2002 we became part of the Savernake Team Ministry, which covers an area from the Chutes to Great Bedwyn to Burbage. Our Parish lies within the Diocese of Salisbury. Because of its large size, covering as it does an area all the way from Swindon to Lyme Regis, Episcopal oversight within the Diocese is divided between two suffragan bishops, who are under the ultimate authority of the Bishop of Salisbury. These have their seats at Sherbourne and Ramsbury and it is to the later that our vicar is responsible.

The Church Today

Today, the Church remains at the centre of the village community with a service every Sunday, and the regular celebration of baptisms, weddings and funerals. The Church is also a venue for the occasional music concert, Christmas Tree Festival and other events. It also maintains a traditional Harvest Supper with an auction of produce collected at the Harvest Festival.

The regular worshipping community is small, but special occasions such as Christmas, Mothering Sunday, Easter, Harvest Festival and Remembrance Day are well supported and show that the wider village community has a deep commitment to their Church. Family services arranged in conjunction with the local school are also well attended.

The Church is managed by two churchwardens and the Parochial Church Council, elected each year from local people. St Mary’s is well supported financially by the village as well as the regular congregation and is presently able to meet all its obligations, although some fund raising is necessary when major repairs and improvements are planned and the challenges facing the wider church will mean greater commitment in the years ahead.

Recent projects have included floodlighting, new altar cloths, repairs and maintenance to the church bells, and improved facilities enabling the church building to be used for community events.

Whilst the Church interior may seem almost timeless, there have been some changes of note in recent years. Most obvious is the magnificent two manual, 1210 pipe organ which now stands at the west end. With the effectual demise of the modest instrument that had served for many years, and stood at the east end of the south aisle, the Church was fortunate to find and subsequently purchase the present grand affair from the Parish Church of Lavenham, Suffolk. It gave its first recital in its new home in 1997. Also of note are the two recent memorial windows, being fine contemporary examples of the stainer’s craft. Firstly there is the Wilson memorial window in the north side of the chancel, and then the Ruth Fisher window in the vestry area in the north west corner

Bell Ringing

In 1994, after decades of comparative slience for lack of ringers. the Church’s fine ring of six bells rang out across the village once again, to inform, remind and celebrate. The Church is recognised as having one of the finest historic six bell rings in the county, if not the country, and it was deemed an unworthy omission to allow them to remain unused, or at least only heard when enthusiastic outside ringers visited.

Accordingly, approaches were made to the Marlborough brach of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers, who agreed to train a newly recruited band of potential ringers from scratch. Rather hesitant and diffident clangs ensued for a period but within a short time far more melodious noises emerged from the louvres and the now very keen and competent band of ringers add solemnity, grandeur and sheer joyousness, as appropriate to occasion.

That said, there will always be a welcome extended to newcomers who might like to learn the craft or just find out more about the bells and how it all works.

As can be well envisaged, keeping many tons of swinging metal in good order inside a centuries old structure requires constant inspection, maintenance and expenditure. Following an inspection in 2004, the number 2 bell was found to be cracked and deemed unringable. By great good luck a suitable replacement was found through the Keltek Trust and it was installed in the summer of 2005. This replacement bell was originally the 7th in a peal of 12 bells from St Peter and St Paul’s Kettering, Northamptonshire. The opportunity was also taken to renovate the entire ring. The old bell can now be seen in its new home in the south aisle of the Church.

If you would like to try your hand at ringing, please contact Mike Holt, the Tower Captain (Tel: 01264 850621)

The Bells of St Mary’s

An inventory of 1553 shows that the Church tower had four bells at that time. In 1614 these original bells, with the addition of new metals were recast in the churchyard to form a ring of five bells by John Wallis of Sarum. The tenor bell was recast in 1695 by Samuel Knight of Reading. This bell was recast again in 1896 by Taylor’s of Loughborough. They also produced a new treble to augment the bells to a ring of six and hung the bells in a new cast iron frame supporting on steel foundation joist. In 1952 Taylor’s returned to re-hang the bells on ball bearings.

Treble32ins 7cwt 0qtr 4lbs John Taylor of Loughborough 1836C#
Second34ins6cwt 2qtr 20lbs Ditto1890D
Third 35ins7cwt 0qtr 16lbs John Wallis Sarum 1614A
Fourth38 3/4ins 9cwt 2qtr 14lbs Ditto1614G#
Fifth42 ins 12cwt 1qtr 14lbs Ditto1614F#
Tenor48 3/4ins 19cwt 0qtr 11lbs Ditto1614E

The Bell Inscriptions

Treble“pray always”
Below a band of vine patterns
H.F. HENSON G.C. 1890
ThirdFEARE GOD I W 1614 N/A
FourthFEARE GOD I W 1614 N/A
Tenor SAMUEL+KNIGHT+MEADE+row of ornaments
ANDREWS+C ornament W 1695
church wardens
Old Second GIVE ALMES I W 1614 N/A