St Mary the Virgin, Longcot
St Mary's is a lovely parish church whose shape seems to reflect that of the village it serves. Holy Communion is celebrated on Sundays at 9:30am apart from the third Sunday when Morning Prayer is said.
The congregation and the Longcot Village Trust have worked incredibly hard over the past few years to raise sufficient money to build a community hub at the west end of the nave. This £200 K project was completed in October 2021 and was formally opened by the Lord -Lieutenant in May 2022. The new facilities include a kitchen, disabled toilet, and a mezzanine which is an ideal space for meetings, and offers visitors an interesting view of the bell ringers in action. The community hub is already becoming a focus of life in the village, hosting children’s parties, concerts, bell ringing training courses and parish meetings.
St Mary’s church dates back to the 13th century, with a large barn-like nave, small chancel and an 18th century tower. The nave was repaired in 1606 and again in 1701; other parts of the building reflect later repairs and additions, and we look forward to being able to add a toilet and kitchenette as the 21st century’s contribution to maintaining the life of the church and its place at the centre of the village.
Within the building there is a font which probably dates from the 13th century; a hexagonal pulpit of fine Jacobean oak work and a wonderful 1733 painting of the arms of George III.
In addition, there is a plaque in memory of Lillian Carter who, with her husband, lost her life on the Titanic in 1912. Lillian’s uncle, John Hughes, was vicar of Longcot from 1853-1895 and the chancel was refurbished in his memory. The churchyard is managed by a team of volunteers and includes a wild-life garden which has won a number of environmental awards.
The original tower collapsed in the early 18th century, taking the bells with it. It was rebuilt and a new ring of five was installed by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester in 1722. Seven years later, Rudhall added a sixth bell. This installation remained in use until the early 1960s when the bells became too difficult and dangerous to ring and fell into disuse. Ringers from Shrivenham progressed a “Millennium” scheme to make the bells ring again, and in 1998 they rang out as a ring of eight. The two extra treble bells were cast at the Loughborough foundry. There is also a 1909 Sanctus bell (½ cwt) by Warner’s of London replacing its predecessor of 1845 by W Taylor of Oxford.
We have an active bell ringing team and the tower is a flourishing teaching centre for the Benefice, the Deanery and the surrounding area. New ringers are always welcome - come along to the Friday evening practice at 7:30pm and see how it's done!