Villagers near Banbury fundraise to restore historic church bell tower to its Victorian style

Residents of a village near Banbury have come together to help restore their church’s historic Victorian-style big bell tower.
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The blessing of the new tower will take place on Friday (September 22) at 6pm with the Bishop of Dorchester Rt Revd Gavin Collins, Revd Canon Sarah Fenby and former Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry in attendance.

The Friends of All Saints Church in Great Bourton decided to fundraise for the much-needed repair and conservation work on the unique bell tower back in 2019.

Initially, the group’s target was £50,000, but the impact of global events meant that the re-assessment and revised tender had a new target of £73,000.

The historic bell tower at All Saints Church before and after the restoration work.The historic bell tower at All Saints Church before and after the restoration work.
The historic bell tower at All Saints Church before and after the restoration work.

Worshippers at the church and village residents raised money through a number of initiatives, including treasure trails, coffee mornings, cake and plant sales, raffles, magic shows, and musical evenings.

The fundraisers also applied for grants to help raise the enormous fee. Some of the organisations that supplied grants were the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, along with local businesses.

First built in 1883 in memory of Mary Ann Cubitt, wife of British master builder Thomas Cubitt, the great, great, great grandparents of HM Queen Camilla

Leading architect William White created the unique tower, one of only three similar structures in the country, which was constructed in a gothic style with a stone gateway supporting an open-work timber belfry.

Since workers began restoring the tower in May 2023, the tower has now been returned to its original Victorian style with oak roof shingles, refurbished finials, a weathervane, and a clock face.