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AVON DASSETT St John the Baptist 5, 7cwt in B

Grid Reference 151/412502 Avon Dassett Church - Source M Chester
Postcode CV47 2AH
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals None
Sunday None
Practice None
Other information Church is redundant. There is no electricity in the tower 


The church stands on high ground on the east side of the steeply rising road leading from the village northwards to Fenny Compton. It consists of a chancel with a north organ-chamber and vestry, nave, north aisle, south porch, and west tower with a spire. The old church having become dilapidated was pulled down and rebuilt in 1868. Only a small portion of the ancient material was re-used. The discovery or survival of some small fragments of 12th-century stonework was evidently the reason for the new north arcade being designed in the 'Norman style'. The remainder of the fabric is of the early-14th-century style; to which period belong an archway, possibly the former chancel arch, reset at the east end of the north aisle, the east window of the chancel, reset in the west wall of the tower, and a recess replaced in the north wall of the chancel above a unique effigy of a 13th-century deacon. Otherwise the architecture is modern.

The old church at Avon Dassett had two bells in an enclosed weatherboarded turret over the west end of the nave. The turret had a pyramid roof and weathercock. 

This church was declared redundant in May 1983. It is set in beautiful rural South Warwickshire. Owing to problems with the tower, caused by the fact that the church tower was "allegedly moving slowly down the hill", the bells were not available for ringing for many years. They are a complete ring by Blews and were installed at a cost of £220. Those who have rang on the bells did comment that tower movement made them surprisingly difficult to ring at times. All retain their canons and none have been turned. The installation itself remained in a fairly good condition given the lack of attention that it has not had for a good number of years.

Surveys completed in January 2002 by a steeplejack and structural engineer recommended against the ringing of the bells unless the tower is repaired. This repair work was completed during 2008 and some of the bells were swing chimed shortly afterwards.

The bells have recently had some work done to improve their condition and they are now ringable on a restricted basis and no longer ground floor. However, they are not available for general ringing at the present time.

Details of the Bells

1 William Blews, Birmingham  1869  3½cwt  25.50"  1479.0Hz (F#-1c)
2 William Blews, Birmingham  1869  3¾cwt  26.75"  1310.5Hz (E-11c)
3 William Blews, Birmingham  1869  4½cwt  28.75"  1210.0Hz (D#-49c)
4 William Blews, Birmingham  1869  5¼cwt  30.50   1094.0Hz (C#-23c)
5 William Blews, Birmingham  1869  7cwt   33.50"   989.5Hz (B+3c)


Photo Gallery

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The bells - down The bells - up The tenor
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The previous 
ringing chamber
The church -
looking west
The church - 
looking east
The previous church    

AUSTREY St Nicholas 5, 13cwt in F (Anticlockwise)

Grid Reference 140/296023 Austrey Church - Source St Martin's G.
Postcode CV9 3EE 
Recording None Available
Affiliation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday By arrangement 
Practice Wednesday 1930-2100 (1st - check)


The church consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower with a spire. The tower dates from the 13th century. The remainder was rebuilt and enlarged c. 1330 and is a good example of the best architecture of this period, graceful and well proportioned and with typical mouldings but few carvings. In 1844 the chancel was refaced externally with new stonework and the windows restored. The south porch is of that date, but there was an earlier porch.

Originally these bells were a complete ring of five cast by Hugh Watts in 1632 and hung in a two-tier frame. They were rearranged anticlockwise on one level in the old frame when rehung by Barwell of Birmingham in 1911. The second was moved towards the end of its pit and the treble placed at the other end, the second and treble been placed in the pit formerly containing the second alone. The frame is "listed". The empty single bell frame at the base of the spire for the previous position of the treble is sit in situ. The present fittings are still those of Barwell and the bells are, perhaps, not the easiest to ring. The Old ringers' rules dated 1780 hang in the ringing room.

The church is in the middle of the village, next to the pub. Enter the church by the south door and get to the ringing room up a wooden ladder from the base of the tower. At around the time of the Millennium it was found that the stonework of the church was in need of extensive renovation work and the spire has been rebuilt and much stonework restored or replaced.

Details of the Bells

1 James Barwell & Co, Birmingham  1911   5cwt  30.875"  1065.5Hz (C+31c)
2 Hugh Watts II, Leicester        1632   6cwt  32.125"   931.0Hz (Bb-2c)
3 Thomas Rudhall, Gloucester      1770   8cwt  34.75"    898.5Hz (A+36c)
4 Hugh Watts II, Leicester        1632  10cwt  38.00"    784.5Hz (G+1c)
5 Hugh Watts II, Leicester        1632  13cwt  41.00"    698.0Hz (F-1)

 Photo Gallery

The  Church - Looking East.  Source: A MacRae-Thomson The  Church - Looking West.  Source: A MacRae-Thomson
The Church - Looking East The Church - Looking West 
Plan of the  Church.  Source: British History Online
Plan of the Church  

ASTON CANTLOW St John the Baptist 6, 14-0-14 in F

Grid Reference 151/138599 Aston Cantlow Church - Source Coventry DG
Postcode B95 6JB 
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 1045-1115 (1 & 3 +festivals)
Practice Wednesday 1930 - 2100  (Ex. 1st)


Famed as the church where Shakespeare's parents were married in 1557, this is a very pleasant village with a nice ring of bells.

The chancel, nave, and tower date from late in the 13th century. The nave had a narrow north aisle with the existing arcade of four bays. About the end of the 14th century the north chapel was added, with the arcade of two bays, and the nave aisle was widened to the same span, and probably the arcade rebuilt with much of the original material.  The bell-chamber was added late in the 14th century, and the diagonal buttresses to the lower story then or later. The south walls, probably because of the pressure of the roofs, have been forced out of the perpendicular. In the restoration of 1850 the south wall of the nave had to be entirely rebuilt, with the chancel arch. That of the chancel is still standing; it leans out as much as 1½ ft. at the west end, but has been reinforced outside by additional masonry. 

The seventeenth century, c.1625. oak frame was extended in 1924 using a cast iron frame section when Charles Carr of Smethwick added a treble to make six. Carr had a country cottage in the village.

Further restoration was undertaken by Taylors in 1957 when the treble was recast. This is the only bell that does not have canons. The four tenors were eighth turned and the second quarter turned. Apart from the bearings, the Carr fittings were reused.

The entrance is from inside the church. The old, rather scary, wooden ladder has recently been replaced by a spiral staircase. Parking is reasonably easy nearby. Visiting bands may wish to enquire about using the Village Hall car park on the opposite side of the road to the church.

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1957   5-2-17  29.625"  1161.0Hz (D-20c)
2 Thomas Hancox, Walsall          1629   7-0-24  33.25"   1034.0Hz (C-21c)
3 Thomas Hancox, Walsall          1626   7-3-10  33.75"    921.0Hz (Bb-21c)
4 Thomas Hancox, Walsall          1626   9-1-27  35.50"    873.0Hz (A-14c)
5 Worcester Foundry              c1410  12-1-07  40.75"    774.0Hz (G-22c)
6 Richard Keene, Woodstock        1681  14-0-14  43.75"    690.0Hz (F-21c)

Photo Gallery

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The church - looking west The church - looking east
The new spiral staircase   

ATHERSTONE St Mary 8, 8-1-6 in A

Grid Reference 140/309980 Atherstone Church - Source M Chester
Postcode CV9 1EY 
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 1030-1100 (Check) 
Practice Wednesday 1930-2045 (Irregular - check)
Other Information Church Website


The church is set in the Market Place and is therefore fairly easy to find.  There is some parking in Market Place and there is a large free car park to the south of the church - the church photograph being taken from its entrance.

It is a pleasant church worth a short look before ringing.  It is early 12th century in foundation. The chancel of the church was completed in 1385 as the church of an Augustinian Friary. At the Dissolution of the Monastries in 1538 this chancel ceased to be used for worship although the old nave was kept as a church. Following the granting of a school charter in 1573 the disused chancel became the home of the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and continued in this use until 1864. The distinctive octagonal tower was built in 1782 to replace the more conventional square section one. The building of the present nave commenced in 1848 and it was dedicated on 14th March, 1850; it cost £3,000 and seated 1400 people. In 1884 the chancel was restored, joined to the nave and dedicated in 1888.

These bells replaced a single bell in 1960 at a cost of £2,500, and are very nice indeed.  The metal frame is of mainly lowside construction, with the outside bearings of the 3rd and 4th mounted on cast iron pedestals due to the size and shape of the tower.

The listed old bell - by John de Stafford c.1360, diamater of 45.75" and weighing about 16cwt in E (648.0Hz)- is preserved in the church. Its canons were removed and it was drilled through the crown in 1901 when Taylors provided new ringing fittings.

The way up to the bells is quite well hidden.  It is half way down the church through an archway on the far left level with the chancel, sort of round the corner - see photograph below. Be careful to remove The clock hammer. The pull off is at the bottom of the blue clock casing in the window with only a small painted notice telling you to to pull it off to show where it is.

Unfortunately, due to the proximity of houses, etc. the bells are unavailable for peals. Requests for visits should be made allowing for some flexibility in timing.

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  2-3-15  22.50"   1766.0Hz (A+6c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  3-1-00  23.50"   1677.0Hz (G#-16c)
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  3-1-13  24.50"   1479.0Hz (F#-1c)
4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  3-1-26  25.50"   1315.5Hz (E-4c)
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  4-1-00  27.625"  1169.0Hz (D-8c)
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  4-3-25  29.125"  1102.0Hz (C#-11c)
7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  6-0-10  31.625"   978.5Hz (B-16c)
8 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  8-1-06  35.50"    871.0Hz (A-18c) 

Photo Gallery

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The Church, looking west The Chancel
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The church, looking east The old bell.
Lowering the bells at the end of at District Practice

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

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


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

(Most of the above 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

aston_east_small aston_cantlow_east_small
 The Church - Looking East The Reredos

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