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St Mary’s Church, Twyford

Twyford’s first Saxon church is mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. A Norman church replaced it in the 12th century which was later extensively rebuilt in 1402. Population expansion then led to the construction of a replacement church to designs by Alfred Waterhouse which was completed in 1878 using the Norman building's columns and various early windows. We don’t know whether, at any stage in the buildings long life, Swifts have ever nested here but it seems likely, though sadly they don’t anymore. Certainly they still do in at least one of the old buildings nearby.

Discussions about installing internal Swift boxes within the belltower started several years ago and dimensions were taken and drawings made - but then Covid started which caused a delay to the removal and refurbishment of the bells – and thus the start of the project. The space inside the tower is restricted to say the least with the huge bells in place, so it was agreed that it would be best to wait until the bells has been removed.

Belltower louvres
Belltower louvres

But some of the rotten oak louvres have now been replaced, the large Jackdaw nest on the outside has been removed and the steel mesh on the inside has been replaced with ply and air vents. This has enabled us to go in and install 26 new Swift boxes with a call player.

Jackdaw nests on the bell tower
Jackdaw nests on the belltower

View from inside in August 2020
View from inside in August 2020

Some of the new Swift boxes
Some of the new Swift boxes

Grateful thanks are due to Juliet Hawkes and the Church wardens involved, and of course to Roger. And last but not least to the Belgae Trust who have provided the funding for the project. Thank you. We now await the Swifts to return next summer.


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