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The tower was built in the mid fifteenth century, when the church that had stood on the site since Norman times was rebuilt. It is nearly 80 feet high. The tower is a prominent landmark as you enter or leave Wokingham by the London Road, and thousands of people pass it every day. Perhaps its most spectacular public appearance was over the period of Christmas 1999 and New Year 2000, when the flag pole on the tower roof was transformed into a 'Millennium star', and floodlit for the entire period.
There are four levels inside, plus the roof. All levels are accessed by a spiral staircase. Ours is interesting in this it winds 'the wrong way' – it turns clockwise as you go down, whereas most turn anti-clockwise. The stonemasons who built spiral stairs in mediaeval churches made them the same as in castles, where they were designed to give an advantage to the defender (assuming he was right handed) by making it easier to wield a sword when facing downwards rather ending sn facing upwards.
Click the picture below for a description and pictures of each level, or for pictures of the outside of the tower. You can move between levels using the links at the bottom of the page for each level.
Did you know? : The site of Wokingham Bell foundry was unknown until an archeological excavation discovered foundry slag in a site behind Broad Street.
|15th Century||Tower built|
|1553||The tower contained four bells (as recorded in the Edwardian inventory) – quite likely from the Wokingham Bell Foundry|
|1704||Ring of six bells by Samuel Knight of Reading, hung in timber frame|
|1767||Bells rehung by Robert Turner, Bell Hanger to Messrs. Lester and Pack|
|1814||Two bells replaced by Thomas Mears of Whitechapel|
|1817||Turret clock by Thwaites & Reed of London|
|1863/4||Gallery opened into the nave|
|1873||Bells rehung by Warners of London|
|1878||Repair to the tower stonework|
|1885||Stained glass west window in memory of Com. Elliott Mores|
|1903||Two bells replaced and two bells added (all cast by Mears). Hung in new 8-bell iron frame by Webb & Bennett of Kidlington|
|1955||Plain bearings replaced with ball bearings by Whitechapel Bellfoundry|
|1980||Tower rewired and lighting provided to upper levels by the ringers|
|1981||Safety rail fitted to low wooden rail overlooking the nave|
|1981||New carpet laid in the ringing room|
|1981||Ropes progressively replaced by the ringers with pre-stretched polyester top ends to prevent stretching|
|1982||Sound control shutters installed by the ringers (closed to reduce the sound for the neighbours while practising, and opened while ringing for services and public occasions)|
|1982||Rope spider provided (to permit ropes to be drawn up to the ceiling, out of the way when not in use)|
|1985||Modern locks provided for most levels by the ringers|
|1988||Bell frame – rust removed and repainted by the ringers|
|1993||Peal board installed by the ringers to commemorate the 800th anniversary Wokingham peal|
|1994||Clock weight shaft extended to ground by the ringers (to restore 8 day working to the clock, after nearly a century of 5-day working)|
|2004||Four bells replaced and all tuned by Whitechapel. Bells rehung on modern fittings by Whites of Appleton|
|2005||External tower surface rendered, tower roof covering renewed, and top of the stair turret repaired, by contractors|
|2005||Internal acoustics improved by hanging carpets on the clock room walls|
|2009||Peal board installed by the ringers to commemorate the first peal on the restored bells.|
|2010||Peal board commissioned to record four performances commemorating Rev FE Robinson, including two for the centenary of his death|
|2016||Glass screen installed between ringing gallery and nave by Alder Glass|
Several artefacts from the tower still exist.
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