St Mary the Virgin, Longcot
St Mary's is a lovely parish church whose shape seems to reflect that of the village it serves. There are three Sunday services every month – Family Communion at 9:30am on the second and fourth Sundays and Evensong at 6pm on the third Sunday. We join the local Methodists in their chapel on the first Sunday of each month at 3pm. Evening prayer is said on Tuesday evenings at 5pm, apart from the first Tuesday of the month when we celebrate Holy Communion.
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!