Following a suggestion from the Town Clerk that the local historical society should take over responsibility for the Church Tower, it is proposed that a Ewell Tower Preservation Trust shall be formed for the purpose of raising funds for the restoration and subsequent maintenance of the 15th century tower. This is all that remains of the structure of the earlier Church of St. Mary the Virgin, demolished when the present church was built in 1848.
The Tower was built c.1420 onto the then existing church which contained 11/13th century work, and a report quoted in the Parish Magazine for June 1925 from Mr. F.G. Eeles, Hon. Secretary of the Central Committee for the Protection of Churches at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated that:
‘It is one of the best of the 15th-century towers in the County and because of the position of the stair turret in one corner of the tower, it is unique in Surrey and rarely met with south of the Thames, thus increasing its value as a piece of English Medieval Architecture’.
A similar turret/tower c.1450 is incorporated into the Church of Saint Martin of Tours in Epsom, but this tower has been re-cased and all traces of external medieval work has vanished. The Church of Saint Mary in Lambeth, mentioned above, also has a turret tower but it under threat of demolition.
The Tower in Ewell has stood at the centre of life in the village for over 500 years, and its bells (now recast and re-hung in the present church) have summoned villagers to worship for most of that period, firstly as a Roman Catholic church until the Reformation, and subsequently as Church of England. The earliest reference to the bells of St. Mary’s was in 1548, when there were four bells and a sanctus bell. The old Catholic custom of Sunday and Christmas Day ringing survived in Ewell until quite late. The bells were rung at 7 am until 1869; the 8 o’clock Matins bell was discontinued in 1877 (see NAS Occasional Paper No. 6, Bells of St. Mary’s, Ewell).