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MOSELEY* St Mary 10, 18-0-9 in F

Grid Reference 139/077832 Moseley St Mary Church - Source: CCCBR
Postcode B13 8JG
Steel 8                      New 10
Affiliation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0915-1000
Practice Monday 1930-2100
Other Information St Mary's Bells Website
Parish Website


Until 1853 Moseley was a chapelry, first of Bromsgrove and then of Kings Norton (which only became a parish in 1846). It was from Kings Norton that the parish of Moseley was eventually created in 1853. St.Mary’s was first built as a chapelry in the fifteenth century, and the present tower, said to have been begun in 1496, was added early in the following century. The building has been enlarged and rebuilt several times – notably in 1783, 1823-4, 1886 and 1910 – and the tower is all that now remains of the old chapel. The tower was restored in 1913.

At the time of the 1552 inventory there were three bells here. The number stayed the same until they were replaced by a steel ring of 8 bells, though each had been recast. These bells were sold to the neighbouring parish of St Annes on their removal and they form part of what is now a ring of 6 (q.v.).

The "new" bells were originally hung at St. Marie’s, Sheffield, (now Hallam R.C. Cathedral) in July 1861. They became surplus to requirements when a new ring of eight bell-metal bells was installed there in 1873-4. They were hung by Vickers in Moseley in 1874. The original treble was replaced when the bells were transferred to Moseley, and the second (dated 1858) may be a substitute for one of the original Sheffield bells. This firm tended to cast a number of bells at various times and take rings from them as required, not always casting "to order". All the bells have "button tops".

Though the vicar did write a glowing testimonial about the bells and their hangings, they are not in a very substantial frame. As early as 1887 Taylors commented on the weakness of the frame. This frame is on two levels, with 1, 3, 4 & 7 above the others. Carrs of Smethwick replaced some of the fittings in 1903, but they remained a difficult ring.

As part of a long series of notes about bells in Bell News, it is reported in the edition of December 19th 1903:

"Moseley (Worcestershire). St. Mary. Eight bells. All by Vickers, 1874. Tenor 19 cw t., diameter 4 ft. 6 in. Timber frame. Bells do not go well. Clocking permitted. The ring are second-hand, and of steel. Ropes new 1896, good. No half-pull ringing. Sunday ringing 1st in month, 5.45 to 6.45. Practice : Wednesday, 8."

The first peal on the bells was rung in 1904

"The Peal at Moseley .— This is the first peal rung on the bells in this tower. The bells, which are of cast steel, were cast in 1860, the inscription on the tenor being as follows: “ Reipy's Patent. Cast Steel. Naylor, Vickers and Co., Sheffield.” They hung in St. Marie’s Tower, Norfolk Road, Sheffield, for about fourteen years, where one peal of Grandsire Triples was rang on them. They were then bought and presented to Moseley by Mr. Lyndon in 18 74 , since when they have defied all attempts to obtain a peal on them, owing to their bad " go." The peal was listened to by the local ringers, also by Messrs. H. F. Street and W . S. Pritchett, who, at the conclusion, heartily congratulated the band on their performance."

The ringing room floor was removed during the rebuilding of the church in 1909 and ringing was stopped and an Ellacombe apparatus installed.

The following is reported from a speech  given by Mr A Padden Smith at a dinner in Sheffield in 1938
".. There had in the past been many interchanges of visits between Birmingham and Sheffield ringers, and he recalled that Mr. Harry Hattersley had said that at St. Marie’ s, Sheffield, they had the finest peal of eight bells in the world. He was not going to dispute that, but he could tell them where there was the rottenest peal of bells in the world, and they came from St. Marie’s. The Roman Catholics did not like them very much, but they did not like to give them away, so they advertised them for sale. "At that time a church in Mosley, Birmingham, was thinking of filling its tower with a peal of bells. The churchwardens happened to notice the advertisement, and came, with others, to hear the bells at St. Marie’s. It was long before his day, but he understood the churchwardens and clergyman were taken round, about a mile and a half from the church, while the bells were rung, and they were treated to liberal quantities of what was known as ‘ Tenants’ ’ (laughter), with the result that they struck a bargain and these absolutely putrid bells, cast from steel, were bought by one of the wealthiest churches in Birmingham, where they hung at this moment. Peals had been rung on them, "but they were now hung dead  (sic). As a business man he wondered if he could do a deal and send the old bells back in exchange for the ones St. Marie’s now had (laughter)."

They were overhauled, using parts supplied by Eayre and Smith, mainly using local labour in 1991/2 and ringing restarted. It was reported in The Ringing World of April 19th 1991:

"Moseley bells ringing again
Richard Cann has sent us an extract from the Daily News which describes the D-I-Y work carried out by Ralf Vines, Jeoffrey Webb and Simon Adams, which has got the steel bells of Moseley, Birmingham, ringing again. After more than 80 years’ silence the bells rang out for the Easter Service this year. The ring dates from 1858 and originally hung in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Sheffield."

Details of the first quarter peal are given in the edition of September 20th 1991: "Moseley, Birmingham (St Mary). 9 June, 1260 Grandsire Triples: A Muriel Reay 1, M Ann Bailey 2, J B Webb 3, A S Burbidge (C) 4, A C Berry 5, S E Adams 6, D R Ingram 7, D M Webb 8. For Evensong. First Q on the restored eight steel bells."

The back 5 were reasonably in tune, but the third was very flat and the second and treble sharp and flat enough respectively to be almost the same note. The tenor was weighed at the 1991 restoration and all other weights are approximate. The first peal after the restoration was rung in 1993, exactly 89 years to the day since the previous peal:

On 17th May 2008 the tenor departed from its bearings and landed safely in the pit. The wheel, gudgeons and bearings were all wrecked, but the bell itself has not been damaged.

The ring was replaced in 2012 with bells based on the back three bells of a church in Greenock, Scotland that had been made redundant; with seven new trebles cast by Taylors to G & J Profiles. (At one point it was possible that the back 4 bells from the lighter chime ex-Cradley Heath might have formed the basis for the ring RW 16/2/07). They were test rung on 18th October 2012 - the difference is remarkable! They are a fine ring of 10. The steel bells have gone to Knapps Farm, Doulton Beacon, Somerset and are currently totally unhung and at ground level. 

The new bells project was featured in The Ringing World of February 15th 2013:

(Click images to enlarge)

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

Details of the Bells

 1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough    2012   4-1-11  25.50"   1733.0Hz (A-27c)
 2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough    2012   4-2-19  26.50"   1543.0Hz (G-28c)
 3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough    2012   4-2-17  27.375"  1367.0Hz (F-37c)
 4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough    2012   5-0-05  28.50"   1293.0Hz (E-34c)
 5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough    2012   5-2-11  30.00"   1153.0Hz (D-32c)
 6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough    2012   6-0-12  31.50"   1027.0Hz (C-33)
 7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough    2012   7-1-15  34.00"    916.0Hz (Bb-31c)
 8 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon       1950   9-1-05  36.60"    864.0Hz (A-32c)
 9 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon       1950  12-3-26  41.00"    770.0Hz (G-31c)
10 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon       1950  18-0-09  45.50"    686.0Hz (F-31c)

Details of the Steel Bells

 1 Vickers Sons & Co Ltd, Sheffield  1874   4¼cwt   30.75"   1136.0Hz (Db+42.06)
 2 Naylor Vickers & Co, Sheffield    1858   5cwt    31.75"   1120.0Hz (Db-17.51)
 3 Naylor Vickers & Co, Sheffield    1861   6½cwt   35.50"    919.5Hz (Bb-23.98)
 4 Naylor Vickers & Co, Sheffield    1861   7cwt    38.50"    854.5Hz (Ab+49.09)  
 5 Naylor Vickers & Co, Sheffield    1860   8cwt    41.75"    776.0Hz (G-17.74)  
 6 Naylor Vickers & Co, Sheffield    1861   8½cwt   44.75"    732.0Hz (F#-18.79)
 7 Naylor Vickers & Co, Sheffield    1861  12½cwt   49.50"    648.0Hz (E-29.81)
 8 Naylor Vickers & Co, Sheffield    1860  16-3-03  53.50"    590.5Hz (D+9.32)

Details of the Previous Bells

 1 Hugh Watts II, Leicester          1638   2-0-24  22.50"
 2 John Martin, Worcester            1650   2-3-06  24.75"
 3 William Brooke, Bromsgrove        1740   3-1-16  27.125"

Photo Gallery

The old tenor in its pit,
having jumped the
bearings on 17/5/08
The Interior. Source: Birmingham and Dudley Historic Churches The Interior. Source Margaret Jones 
The Interior Over Time  

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