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ASTON* SS Peter & Paul 12, 24-2-18 in D

Grid Reference 139/082899 Aston. Source: Mike Chester 
Postcode B6 6QA 
Recording
Affilitation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 1015-1045 
Practice Thursday  1945-2100 

History

This church is historically in Warwickshire, but was finally "absorbed" into Birmingham in 1911. It became part of the West Midlands in 1974, as did many other towers in Warwickshire. It is a noticeable landmark at the point where the Aston Expressway leaves the M6 motorway, close to Villa Park, where Aston Villa play their home games.

First mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 as "Estone" this area has ancient roots. There would have been a church at this time, but the building which we see today is much different. The body of the church was rebuilt by J. A. Chatwin during the period 1879 to 1890; the fifteenth century tower and spire, which was partly rebuilt in 1776/7, is the only surving part of the medieval building.

The current bells are also much different to what was there before. They are a very good ring, hung in the typical fashion of the foundry's work at this time. Previously, there were 5 bells in 1552, with a tenor of perhaps 18cwt. These were recast in 1776 by Pack & Chapman and augmented to an octave, tenor 20-3-3. The first peal on the bells was rung on 15th July 1776, Grandsire Tripeles. The bells were well used, many noteable performances being rung on them, including a peal of 15360 of Plain Bob Major in 9 hours and 29 minutes on 1st October 1793. According to The Leicester and Nottingham Journal writing at the time, "This is considered to be the greatest performance that ever was done by one set of men".

By 1814 two bells were cracked. Two bells trebles were added by Thomas Mears and the old fourth and tenor recast, it weighing 22-0-18. Rehanging work was further carried out in 1868-9 by E Cressor. During the restoration of the tower, mentioned earlier, the ringing room was raised by some 20 feet and in 1886 the bells were rehung by Barwells. Estimates for work on the bells were obtained in the 1920s, but nothing was actually done until the complete replacement of the ring in 1935.

The Ringing World of June 2nd 1922 reports, "The bells are a peal of ten and somehow seem to have lost the charm they once possessed. Indeed two of them are cracked, and when this was pointed out to Mr. Phillips, one of the churchwardens, together with the fact that there was room for a really good peal of twelve. he became quite interested, and it is not altogether impossible that, in the not too distant future Aston may be the proud possessor of a ring of twelve. Funds are already being collected for repairing the tower and spire, and if the additional money can be raised for the bells, the job might be done at the same time. Who knows?"

Tilley and Walters give the incriptions of the 10 in their "The Church Bells of Warwickshire Book" of 1910:

 

As early as 1930 the bells were said to be about to be restored - this is from The Ringing World of October 17th 1930:

ST. MARTIN’S GUILD, BIRMINGHAM.
ASTON BELLS TO BE RESTORED.
...........Mr. W. Davies reported that the Parochial Church Council of Aston Parish Church at their last meeting had definitely decided to proceed with the restoration of the bells. The Chairman remarked that he was sure not only the Guild but members of the Exercise generally would be pleased to hear that this ancient peal was to be restored. In the years past the bells had always been available for peal ringing, and niany notable peals had been rung on them. As the parish was a very poor one, he suggested that many ringers throughout the country would be happy to have the opportunity of subscribing towards their restoration. He therefore proposed: ‘ That a subscription list be opened in aid of the restoration fund, and that subscriptions be invited from members of the Exercise in general.—This was seconded by Mr. Paddon Smith and carried unanimously. Local representatives were requested to collect subscriptions from their members and forward to the hon. secretary......"

The contract to recast the bells was reported to be signed in The Ringing World of February 15th 1935:

ASTON BELLS TO BE RECAST.
WILL THERE BE ANOTHER TAYLOR TWELVE?
The Loughborough Foundry have been favoured with the order to recast the ring of ten of Aston Parish Church, Birmingham, and rehang in a new framework. The present bells are a poor lot, tenor about 20 cwt., and the peal is to be increased in weight with a tenor of 25 cwt.
Tentative arrangements have been made for the dedication to take place on the patronal festival of the church, St. Peter’s Day, June 29th, 1935, and it is hoped that before that time two trebles will be ordered to complete the peal of twelve.
Aston Parish Church has historic associations with change ringing. For instance, in 1789 a peal of 14,224 Bob Major was rung there, followed by a peal of 15,360 in 1793, and, until 1933, this remained the longest peal of Bob Major on record, rung by eight men only. Henry Johnson was associated with this tower and many good stories are told of the days when he used to ring there. He is buried in the churchyard.

The order for the two trebles was reported in The Ringing World of May 24th 1935:

ASTON TO HAVE TWELVE BELLS.
TREBLES AS JUBILEE THANK-OFFERING.
It has now been definitely decided to increase the bells at Aston Parish Church to a ring of twelve.
The work of recasting and rehanging the peal of ten has been in tho hands of Messrs. J. Taylor and Co., and the addition of the two extra bells will complete a great restoration scheme. The new trebles are being hung as a thanksgiving for King George’s Silver Jubilee, and the dedication will take place on St. Peter’s Day, Saturday, June 29th.
Aston has many interesting associations for ringers and particularly for Birmingham ringers. It was here that Henry Johnson learned to ring and in the churchyard he lies buried. The stone which marks the grave was erected by the ringers of England in grateful memory of a man to whose ability and perseverance the art of change ringing is widely indebted.
Among famous peals which have been rung at Aston have been 15,360 Bob Major in 1793 and 10,047 Stedman Caters in 1859, while in addition there have been such performances as peals of Treble Bob Caters and Grandsire and Stedman Royal rung there.
Aston will make the 53rd ring of twrelve bells in England, and in addition there are twelve at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne.

The bells have not been turned and hang in a single level cast iron frame installed by Taylors when they recast and augmented the ring.

By June 14th the dedication had been arranged:

"The new peal of twelve at Aston Parish Church, Birmingham, will bo dedicated on Saturday, June 29th, at 3 p.m. The service will be followed by a garden party at the Vicarage, tickets 1s. each, which includes tea. The bells will be available for touches from 5 p.m. onwards: all ringing friends welcome.
This will be a great ovent in the annals of Aston, where so many famous peals have been rung in the past."

The dedication was reported in the edition of July 5th 1935

 

(Click to enlarge)

The first peal on the new 12 was rung in January 1936, in memory of King George V

An historical article, written by Edgard Shephered, was published in The Ringing World during 1962:

(Click to enlarge)

(Most of the above bell information is quoted directly (with permission) from the research notes of Chris Pickford)

Details of the Current Bells

 1  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935   5-0-02  26.00"  1746.0Hz (A-14c)
 2  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935   4-3-20  26.50"  1552.0Hz (G-18c)
 3  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935   5-1-11  27.625  1468.0Hz (F#-14c)
 4  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935   5-1-19  28.50"  1305.5Hz (E-17c)
 5  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935   5-3-10  30.00"  1164.0Hz (D-16c)
 6  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935   6-2-04  31.25"  1096.0Hz (C#-20c)
 7  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935   7-0-25  33.125"  978.0Hz (B-17c)
 8  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935   8-1-11  35.50"   871.0Hz (A-18c)
 9  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935  10-1-14  38.50"   776.0Hz (G-18c)
10  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935  12-2-21  41.00"   732.0Hz (F#-19c)
11  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935  17-1-22  46.00"   653.0Hz (E-17c)
12  John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1935  24-2-18  51.50"   581.0Hz (D-19c)

Details of the 1776 Ring of Bells Bells as Supplied

 1  Pack & Chapman, London         1775   5-3-20  30.25"
 2  Pack & Chapman, London         1776   6-2-11  31.50"
 3  Pack & Chapman, London         1776   7-2-21  33.50"
 4  Pack & Chapman, London         1776   8-1-16  36.00"
 5  Pack & Chapman, London         1776  10-1-09  39.50"
 6  Pack & Chapman, London         1776  11-0-24  41.00"
 7  Pack & Chapman, London         1776  14-3-14  44.50"
 8  Pack & Chapman, London         1776  20-3-03  50.25" in D (Modern Pitch - Eb Old Pitch)

Details of the Bells As Replaced in 1935

 1  Thomas Mears, London           1814   5-2-27  28.25"
 2  Thomas Mears, London           1814   6-1-05  30.00"
 3  Pack & Chapman, London         1775   5-2-16  30.00"
 4  Pack & Chapman, London         1776   6-1-27  31.25"
 5  Pack & Chapman, London         1776   7-2-07  33.50"
 6  Thomas Mears, London           1814   8-1-08  36.00"
 7  Pack & Chapman, London         1776  10-0-20  39.50"
 8  Pack & Chapman, London         1776  11-0-00  41.25"
 9  Pack & Chapman, London         1776  14-2-20  44.50"
10  Thomas Mears, London           1814  22-0-18  50.50"   591Hz (in D)

 Photo Gallery

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 The Church - Looking East The Reredos

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