A brief guide to the Parish Church of St Blaise, Milton

The Tower

The tower dates from the 14th century. In the north-west corner is a tombstone to William Heath, d. 17 April 1651. The Register of 1758 states the fee for burying in the tower was (4/6), so presumably it was customary to bury there.

The Clock

The original clock was made by a neighbouring blacksmith and had only one diamond-shaped face. It was bought by money paid in fines by pheasant poachers, and when the clock struck the hour villagers used to say, “Hark to the old pheasant crowing!” The present clock, an exceptionally good example of its kind, was made by Gillett & Johnston in 1923 and was a gift to the church from Sir Mortimer and Lady Singer of Milton Hill House (and of Singer sewing machine fame).

The Bells

The 1552 Inventory shows that there were four bells in the tower; Richard Keene of Woodstock recast these into five in 1682. One of these was either damaged or became cracked, as Robert Wells of Aldbourne recast the third of five in 1747. These five bells were hung in a wooden frame which dated from around 1640, predating the bells. Following a public subscription, a sixth bell was cast by Mears & Stainbank in 1906 and was hung in an upper frame, made of softwood designed and constructed by a local builder.

In the summer of 1999, there was concern about the go of the bells. A decision was made to replace the six bells with a new and lighter peal of eight bells hung in a new frame on one level in the tower. Of the previous bells, the old second has been retained on display in the church, the remaining five have been sold via the Keltek Trust to Hackthorn in Lincolnshire where they have become the back five of a new ring of six.

The eight new bells were cast by the Whitechapel Foundry in London and form the first complete ring cast to Gillett and Johnston profiles since the closure of the Croydon foundry in the 1950’s. The new tenor weighs 6 cwt, 3 qrts and 26 lbs (348kgs) and is in the note of B. The new bells were hung in the tower in 2002 and were first rung on 2 July 2002. Full details of the bells are given in the tower.