Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Church clock chimes for first time in two decades

Church clock chimes for first time in two decades

THE clock of St Mary’s Church in Whitchurch has chimed again after almost two decades.

The 112-year-old clock was deliberately stopped in 2000 because its electrical winder was broken so the two faces would show different times and there were complaints about it chiming at night.

Now the church’s friends group has paid more than £10,000 for the device to be repaired.

It will only sound on the hour between 7am and 10pm and this could be adjusted if necessary.

Clockmaker Peter Meecham, of Milton-under-Wychwood, also installed a new minute hand on the clock face overlooking the river as this was either removed or fell off more than a decade ago without anybody noticing.

The completion of the work was celebrated with a concert at the church by the Thames Vale Singers and pianist Tim Valentine.

The choir, whose members include churchwarden Kenneth Baker, sang popular tunes before the church fell silent to hear the clock strike 4pm.

This was followed by refreshments, a bell-ringing demonstration and tours of the clock tower.

Sally Woolhouse, secretary of the friends group, said: “It was a very sociable occasion and a lot of villagers who aren’t members of the group attended.

“We spent a significant amount of money on this and felt it was worth celebrating rather than just saying ‘right, that’s done’. It was interesting to hear the clock strike again because it hasn’t for almost 20 years.

“I noticed the chimes again during a Sunday service and it took me back to when they rang all the time.

“It’s lovely because you can hear their nice, mellow sound across the village.

“A lot of people remember them and it’s great to be able to see the correct time again as a stopped clock looks a bit depressing.

“This was a very worthwhile project which was supported by the wider village and not only the church community.”

The friends group, which also supports St John’s Church in Whitchurch Hill, was formed in 2016 to fund projects that the parochial church council cannot afford.

The original clock was made by Smith & Sons, of Clerkenwell, while five of the six church bells date back to the 1600s.

The clock was wound by hand until the electrical winder was installed about 30 years ago.

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