The History of Ringmer Church

The history of St Mary the Virgin, Ringmer, is mainly a history of the building. There is not a lot of documentary evidence about what went on within it, but doubtless it was very similar to what went on in other rural churches throughout the country.

There has probably been a church in Ringmer on the present site for at least 1000 years. The earliest part of the fabric to which an estimated date can be given is the nave arcade. The arches are Early English in style and are therefore probably 13th century; the first name on the incomplete list of Vicars is Richard with a date of 1233.

The two chapels (the Lady Chapel to the N of the Sanctuary and the Springett Chapel to the S) were built to be chantry chapels shortly before the reformation at the start of the 16th century.

Tower pictureThe tower, or towers, have the most varied history. There must have been a tower in the 16th century, for there is a record of a bequest to the bell ringers from about 1550. However this tower had disappeared - collapsed or burned down - by 1682 when there is a reference to "the want of a steeple" and a new tower was built about this time. That in turn burned down around 1800 and was replaced by a simple bell turret. The present tower, a gift from Mr William Langham Christie of Glyndebourne, was built in 1884 complete with a ring of 8 bells - of these the second was a "people's bell" and the original list of donations towards its cost hangs in the ringing room. There were about 200 donors (at this time the population of the parish was about 2000) who gave anything from 3d (children) to 2 guineas.

In the early 19th century in Ringmer, as in most rural churches, music was provided by a church band, and, again in the usual way, it was replaced by an organ - in Ringmer's case in 1856. A larger organ, the gift of Mr John  Christie of Glyndebourne, replaced the original one in 1922. It is still in use after a major refurbishment in 1988.

The first, and latest, major addition to the church since the building of the tower was the addition of a Church Room on the north side of the nave in 2000. This also provides a kitchen and toilets - the last a long requested facility!