St. Mary's Church Groups

Friends of St. Mary's

The Friends of St Mary's Church, Charlton Kings, is an independent charity (Registered Charity Number 1072508).

"The Friends" is established to advance the Christian faith by

Projects which the Friends have supported include replacement of the chancel carpet, refurbishment of noticeboards, handrails into St David's chapel, a second board listing the names of vicars of the church, and seat cushions for all the pews.

Apart from fundraising through the sale of cards and other goods, the Association also organises a variety of popular social activities and outings throughout the year. There is also an annual Friends' Service in February.

The Friends' Prayer:
God of love and faithfulness, we thank you for the inspiration you gave to those who founded and built this Church. Give to us as Friends and to all your faithful people a real sense of your presence and blessing as we gather here, and help us reach out to others in loving service, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

New members are always welcome. To join the Friends, or for more information, email Click here to read the Friends' latest newsletter.

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The Choir

The choir at St. Mary's Church, Charlton Kings is a traditional 4-part robed choir affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM). The choir's repertoire encompasses music of many styles from plainsong through to contemporary. The choir sings at two services each Sunday; these are the Parish Communion at 10:00am and Choral Evensong at 6:30pm. Anthems are sung at all services and various settings of the evening canticles are in regular use at evensong.

In addition to their normal services at St. Mary's, choir members have the opportunity to take part in external courses and events, and the choir maintains a regular program of singing visits to local cathedrals, most recently to Gloucester Cathedral in March 2012. Click here to see a few pictures of their visit to Gloucester Cathedral in June 2011. In addition, there are various social events, including what has become an annual outing to Drayton Manor Park for the junior choristers.

Suitably experienced choristers have the opportunity to prepare for and enter the RSCM Dean's and Bishop's award schemes and may also audition to sing with the RSCM Cathedral Singers.

Membership is open to all from the age of 8 upwards, and new members are always welcome. Practices are on Friday evenings from 7:00 - 8:30pm for junior members, and from 7:30 - 9:00pm for adults.

For further information, contact the Director of Music by email or telephone 513475.

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We currently have servers of all ages, children and adults, most of whom serve once or twice a month at the Sunday Parish Communion whilst others do so at the Said Communion services on Sundays and weekdays. The normal complement for a Sung Eucharist is 2 Crucifers, 4 Servers and 2 Acolytes, but on Festivals when we use incense we also have a Thurifer and a Boat Boy and 9 Banner Bearers.

On ordinary Sundays we wear red or purple cassocks (depending on the season) and cottas, but on Major Festivals we wear albs, amices and apparels. All these, together with full training, are provided.

To serve at the altar during a Communion service is a very special experience and a very great privilege and is available to anyone. If you would like to join us or have any further details or information about serving then do please email the Head Server, Derrick Walker, who will be delighted to help you. Children are welcome, as well as adults.

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St Mary's has had a ring of 8 bells since 1893, when 2 trebles were added to the older ring of 6 bells. In 1958 substantial renovation took place when a cast iron frame replaced the old oak frame, and in 2003 a minor overhaul was carried out on the bearings, clappers, pulleys and rope guides. Click here to see interesting views of the bells while the work was in progress. The oldest bell dates from 1630, but thanks to modern tuning skills has ben made to fit in well with the latest additions which are a mere 111 years old!


In traditional English fashion, the bells are rung in full circle, which allows their speed to be more accurately controlled. This in turn enables the ringing of 'changes' rather than tunes, which over the past few centuries has become the hallmark of English bell ringing.


For as long as local records have been kept, St Mary's has been fortunate to have had an active band of ringers. Indeed, in recent years Charlton Kings has hosted arguably one of the better 8-bell bands in the Gloucester Diocese, both in terms of numbers and the variety of ringing 'methods' we are able to tackle. The band, representing Cheltenham branch, has won the Association-wide ringing competition three times in the last 6 years.


Ringers do not need to be strong or athletic; having a reasonably good sense of rhythm, and the ability to listen critically, tend to be more important in developing a good ringing style. Good hand-eye coordination is needed to control the swing and speed of a bell, and the ability to learn the various ringing 'methods' is also useful. The band is keen to recruit new members, particularly younger people. However, age is not an issue - the age range of our band spans teenage years up to retired people. Whilst in general the younger learners tend to acquire certain skills more quickly, there is no reason why, with practice, anybody could not reach a reasonable standard of proficiency. And, of course, individuals can also make a useful contribution in supporting activities, such as organising tours or occasional social events.


We practise on Tuesday evenings between 7.30 and 9.00. Why not arrange to come along and see for yourself what goes on? We can show you the bells and demonstrate how they work, and you can meet the ringers and see how they perform their mysterious art! If still interested, you could also have a first lesson. Better still, bring a friend with you! For more information, contact the tower captain.

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Junior Church

Children between the ages of 4 and 10 are invited to join the Junior Church group which meets in the church vestry during the 10am Parish Communion on Sundays, during school term-time. The children enjoy a variety of physical, creative and educational activities allowing them to explore the current weekís spiritual themes in a fun and memorable way.

For more information email

There are quite a few services specially designed for children to take part with their families. These include special services such as Christingle and the Crib Service, which are exceptionally well attended. On the first Sunday of each month there is OpenHouse@StMarys at 4pm (each based on a bible story), followed by traditional tea. And in months where there are 5 Sundays, the Parish Communion service at 10am on the last Sunday of the month is aimed at all ages (and therefore there is no Junior Church).

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Little Fishes

Little Fishes is a group for all pre-school children and their parents or carers. We meet every Thursday in St Mary's Church at 1015 for a short service. We then go to the Parish Centre for refreshments, art and free play. We end with a singing session in time to pick up other children from playgroup or nursery. Any children are welcome to come along - we continue to meet in the school holidays and older siblings are welcome.

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Guides and Brownies

St Mary's Rainbows, Brownies and Guides are well-supported and have a busy programme of activities. Meetings usually take place in the Parish Centre, but various other events are held throughout the year as well. Brownies were awarded a wide variety of badges during last year, after preparation during Brownie evenings, while the Guides focused on some traditional skills such as map reading, constellation recognition and shelter building.

For further information, go to the girl guides website.

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Bible Study Group

This group meets at 2.30pm on the third Monday of every month except August and December, and weekly during Lent. They have studied St Mark's Gospel, a selection of psalms, and two epistles. The group is led by Don Sherwell amd meets in a member's house. New members would be very welcome - please email Don.

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There is a team of ladies under the leadership of Margaret Walker who arrange flowers in the church each week.

They meet on a Friday morning and arrange flowers from money donated by the parishioners. They also arrange flowers for weddings, funerals or any event for which flowers are required.

There are four Church Festivals in the year when the whole church is decorated, Easter, Patronal, Harvest and Dedication. On these occasions we have to increase our number of arrangers and this is when the members of the Charlton Kings Flower Club come along to help. In 2012, the whole flower arranging team will be involved in a Carpet of Flowers in church to mark the Jubilee weekend.

If you would like to join in, or for more information, email

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Mothers' Union

Meetings of the Mothers' Union Afternoon Group are held once a month, usually on the first Monday at 2.30pm in the Parish Centre. The MU House Group meets on the second Monday of each month at 8pm for discussion and/or Bible study. Corporate Communion takes place each month, usually on the Tuesday following the Afternoon Group meeting, at 9.15am.

We should be delighted to welcome anyone who would like to join us. For more information, go to the MU page or email

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Open Group

This is a very friendly group, open to anyone who would like to come to any of the meetings. We meet on the fourth Friday of each month at 7.30 pm in the Parish Centre.

We have a varied programme through the year. It includes a Christmas dinner, and an outing in the summer. We have a guest speaker each month, covering a wide range of topics. We are also keen to support local charities, and at present are raising funds for a hearing Dog for the Deaf.

New members are always welcome. For more information, email

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