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SUTTON COLDFIELD* Holy Trinity 8 23-1-18 in Eb

Grid Reference 139/110938 Sutton Coldfield Church - Source: David Kelly
Postcode B72 1TF
Affiliation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0930-1000 & 1700-1730
Practice Wednesday 2000-2100


The church , stands on a rise to the east of the junction of the High Street with the Erdington-Birmingham Road and consists of a chancel, north and south chapels, nave, two north aisles, south aisle, south porch, and west tower. There are modern vestries east and west of the outer north aisle.

The church is of early-13th-century origin, but the only identifiable detail in the masonry is in the lower part of the east wall of the chancel; this has an early plinth and remains of shallow clasping buttresses. The nave was probably shorter than the present nave. There is no material evidence of enlargements before the end of the 15th century, to which date the west tower may be allocated: probably the nave was then also lengthened. The north and south chapels and nave-aisles were added by Bishop Veysey. The date 1533 is recorded for the aisles; the chapels may have preceded them by a few years, showing some difference of detail. Whether the clearstory to the nave was raised at the same time or subsequently is not evident from the masonry. Part of the nave is said to have collapsed in 1759 and to have been rebuilt by the corporation in 1760. How much was involved in the fall is not certain, but apparently the two arcades were rebuilt with the old material. Perhaps the clearstory was then added, but packing or filling-in around the extradoses of the round arches suggests that the superincumbent walling had not given way and the arches were rebuilt below it. The roofs were probably reconstructed at the same time, but they were renewed in 1863.

The outer north aisle and vestries were added 1874–9 and much restoration has been carried out since then, especially in 1929, when the south wall was renovated, the Veysey chapel refurnished and redecorated, and other work done. Galleries of 1760 were built in the aisles and at the west end of the nave and later galleries were set in both chapels. That of the south aisle still remains, the others have been removed, but there are modern galleries at the west end of the inner north aisle and along the outer north aisle. The south porch was added probably in 1533 or soon afterwards.

The aisles and their chapels date from the sixteenth century, these later embellishments being made through the generosity of Bishop Veysey of Exeter (d.1554) who was born at Sutton. There is a monument to Veysey in the chapel on the north side of the chancel. The body of the church was extensively repaired in 1760 after part of the nave collapsed, and the building underwent substantial restoration in the Victorian period. The chancel was restored in 1863-4, the interior was reordered in a general restoration under Yeoville Thomason in 1875-9 and the outer north aisle was added in 1878-9. The western gallery of 1708 was removed and the tower arch opened up during the work of 1878-9

Prior to the last restoration here there was a ring of 6 cast by Thomas Mears in 1795, tenor 22cwt. These were the successors to the four bells and a saunce bell that was in the tower at the time of the 1552 inventory. These became 6 by 1778, at the latest. Rudhalls supplied a ring of 6 in 1786, Tilley and Walters note that the Corporation voted 100 guineas for a new ring in 1784 and that a certain William Hughes was killed by a piece of timber which fell while the workmen were preparing to put up the bells. They therefore speculate that this ring was short lived. This speculation is accurate, as Mears provided a new ring less than 10 years after the Rudhall ring was installed. Two of these bells remain in the present ring. 

In 1884 the bells, which the Erdington ringers found to be in a poor state of repair, were restored and augmented to eight by John Taylor & Co. They recast the back four, added two trebles, and rehung the bells in the old frame with a new top frame for the trebles. The wheels on 3 and 4 were replaced in 1927 and the frame strengthened two years later when Whitechapel rehung the bells on ball bearings. The remaining 1795 Mears bells were not taken out of the tower in the 1884 restoration and therefore the weights then are estimated.

A new frame and fittings were supplied by Taylors, 1972. Prior to this restoration 23-1-17 was the accepted weight. The back two bells were cast with flat heads and the canons have been removed from the remainder.

The ringing room walls are colourfully painted!

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

Details of the Bells

                                         1884     1972
                                        Weight   Weight
1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884   5-2-18   5-1-09  29.75"   1224.0Hz (Eb-29c) 
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884   6-0-14   5-3-05  30.00"   1159.0Hz (D-23c) 
3 Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795   7¾cwt    7-0-22  33.875"  1033.0Hz (C-22c) 
4 Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795   9cwt     8-1-07  36.50"    921.0Hz (Bb-21c) 
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884  10-3-12  10-1-10  38.50"    821.0Hz (Ab-20c) 
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884  13-1-25  12-3-10  41.75"    775.0Hz (G-20c) 
7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884  16-2-17  16-1-19  44.625"   690.0Hz (F-21c) 
8 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884  23-1-17  23-1-18  50.50"    619.0Hz (Eb-9c)

Details of the Mears Bells

1 Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795   8cwt    34.00"
2 Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795   9½cwt   36.375"
3 Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795  11-0-11  39.75"
4 Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795  11-0-14  41.00"
5 Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795  15-1-21  45.25"
6 Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795  21-3-21  50.50"
(Back four bells' weights are scrapping values)

Details of the Bells in 1884

1. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884   5-2-18  29.50"
2. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884   6-0-14  30.00"
3. Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795   7-2-00* 34.125"
4. Thomas Mears, Whitechapel       1795   9-0-00* 36.25" 
5. John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough   1884  10-3-12  38.875"
6. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884  13-1-25  41.75" 
7. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884  16-2-17  45.00" 
8. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1884  23-1-17  51.00"

Photo Gallery

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

SUTTON UNDER BRAILES St Thomas a Becket 5, 8-3-22 in A (GF)

Grid Reference 151/299374 Sutton under Brailes Church - Source: M Chester
Postcode OX15 5BH
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday By Arrangement
Practice 1930-2100 (3rd only)


A very pretty South Warwickshire Village. The nave dates from the 12th century, but the only remaining architectural feature is the north doorway, which was re-discovered and opened out in the 19th century. The east halves of the side walls are probably original: on the north side this half leans outwards, but the west half has been rebuilt plumb vertical, probably when the clearstory was added in the 15th century, the 12th-century doorway being reset, so that although the eaves line is flush throughout there is a difference of 10 in. inside (at floor-level) and outside at the base. The chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century and seems to have been lengthened eastwards at the end of the same century and larger windows than the original lancets provided. The south tower was an addition of c. 1340 but it was probably later in the century that the top was completed. There was a large restoration of the building in 1879 at a cost of £2,000, when the walls were stripped of plaster and external cement, the west and the southwest walls of the nave rebuilt and new roofs provided.

The highly decorated bells, a "listed" complete ring by William and Robert Cor of Aldourne, were retuned at Whitechapel and rehung by Whites of Appleton in the existing frame in 1983. They are strange bells, decorated with curious ornaments. The oak frame is dated 1846 and was made by John Davis, a local carpenter. He was paid £55/8/6 for "New roofing the tower and new frames for the bells". The bells are very long waisted in shape, having high crowns and curious bulging lips. They retain their canons and are listed bells. They had been chip tuned prior to the 1983 rehang.

There is a late C18th bell of 13" diameter on display in the church.  It is the former sanctus bell.

The tower is on the side, rather than the end of the nave, i.e. on the South-East side, and the bells are rung from the porch - leaving the doors open on a nice sunny day is ideal.

There is limited parking on the grass verge just past the church. The village was transferred to Warwickshire from Gloucestershire in 1844.

The nominals of the bells have recently become available and the ring is just nearer to A than the previously quoted Ab.

Details of the Bells

1 William & Robert Cor, Aldbourne  1701 5-0-04  27.75"  1296.0Hz (E-30c)
2 William & Robert Cor, Aldbourne  1701 5-0-12  26.25"  1145.5Hz (D-44c)
3 William & Robert Cor, Aldbourne  1701 5-3-12  31.00"  1082.5Hz (C#-41c)
4 William & Robert Cor, Aldbourne  1701 6-1-12  32.75"   962.5Hz (B-45c)
5 William & Robert Cor, Aldbourne  1701 8-3-22  36.75"   856.0Hz (A-48c)

Photo Gallery

The Church - Looking East - Source: Mike Chester The Ringing Chamber - Source: Mike Chester
The Church - Looking East The Ringing Chamber
The Font - Source: Mike Chester The Sanctus Bell - Source: Mike Chester
The Fine Font The Sanctus Bell

STRETTON-ON-DUNSMORE All Saints 6, 7-0-14 in B

Grid Reference 140/407725 Stretton on Dunsmore Church - Source: David Kelly
Postcode CV23 9NA
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday None
Practice None


Set just off the Coventry to Southam road, this is a very pretty village with a nicely kept church, near to a good pub!

The church is situated to the west of the village on the summit of a hill and stands in a large churchyard. It was completed in 1837 from designs by Rickman, and except for the addition of a choir vestry and a new east window inserted in 1936 as a memorial, it is unaltered. It is built of brick faced with stone ashlar and consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, west tower, vestry and choir vestry.

For many year the bells here were an unringable three. They were hung in an oak frame, with all bells swinging north-south, that predated the rebuilding of the tower in 1835-7. The fittings probably dated from this time. This remained the situation here until the early 1990s when the ring was augmented in stages to the highly satisfactory ring of 6 in an 8 bell frame, made locally to designs by Whitechapel, that they are today. The previous second of three was cast at the same time and by the same founder as the treble. This was the same year as when Smith cast a ring of 5 for nearby Brinklow. The fourth has had its canons removed and both old bells have been turned.

The weights of the bells as received at Whitechapel were:- 3-3-15, 4-0-16 and 7-0-23.

The bells are ringing again after recent tower problems caused by rusting metal clamps that hold the stone facing onto the brick tower.

Park by the church wall and entry is via the west door of the tower.

Details of the Bells

1 Whitechapel, London       1993  2-2-19  22.50"  1658.5Hz (G#-3c)
2 Whitechapel, London       1993  2-2-25  23.50"  1480.5Hz (F#+1c)
3 Whitechapel, London       1992  3-1-14  25.25"  1321.0Hz (E+3c)
4 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston   1705  3-2-23  26.50"  1243.0Hz (D#-2c)
5 Whitechapel, London       1993  5-0-17  29.50"  1112.0Hz (C#+5c)
6 Hugh Watts II, Leicester  1620  7-0-14  33.25"   991.5Hz (B+7c)

Photo Gallery

stretton_east_small stretton_sanctuary_small stretton_west_small
The Church - Looking East The Church - Looking West The Sanctuary
stretton_tower_small stretton_memorial_small  
The Tower The War Memorial on the
North wall of the nave.
stretton_ringing_room_small stretton_wheel_small  
The Ringing Room  A wheel from the
former ring of three 

Studley Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 8, 11-1-9 in G

Grid Reference 150/081637 Studley Church - Source: David Kelly
Postcode B80 7AB
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0915-1000
Practice Thursday 1930-2100


This church is right on the western edge of the Diocese. It is set just outside the main part of the town and can be missed by the unwary traveller. Look for the signpost (the bottom one of 3) pointing east near the north of the village.

The church consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle, and west tower. The church dates from the early 12th century and the nave preserves the original north wall, with herringbone masonry, a doorway, and a window of the period. Early in the 14th century the south aisle was added with the arcade of three bays. The chancel is probably part of the same work but seems to have been rebuilt, or remodelled, in the 15th century. The west tower was added in the 15th century, but the top part of it is later work of the same century. It seems to have had no doorway before one was inserted in the west in the 16th or early 17th century. The roofs are hidden by modern ceilings but there is a record on a tablet that the body of the church was ceiled in 1723. The church was restored in 1888, and again in 1935, when the 12th-century window in the north nave wall was discovered.

A complete ring of 5 by Matthew Bagley, the bells were rehung in a new cast iron lowside frame and fittings for six by Taylors in 1957. The listed back 5 bells retain their canons and have been quarter turned, while the others were cast with flat tops. The previous frame - most unusually - had five parallel pits (treble to tenor in a row from south to north) which explains the ropes hanging in a straight line. The narrow gallery behind the organ from which the bells were rung, lower down the tower than the present ringing room only dates from 1888, having been put up when the old west gallery was removed.

The bells here were augmented to 8 in 1999 and first rung as an octave for the new Millennium. This required a rearrangement of the existing frame, only bells 4 and 5 (now 6 and 7) staying in the same pits, and an extension to it.  The work was carried out by Arthur "Bill" Berry using Taylors castings.

Ask to see where the bells used to be rung from - you will easily spot that the original five used to hang in a straight line!

Being on the edge of the Coventry Guild and the Worcester & Districts Association this tower has links with both. Here is a link to the W & D entry for Studley

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor, Bellfounders Ltd, Loughborough  1998   4-0-07  25.00"   1570.0Hz (G+2c)
2 John Taylor, Bellfounders Ltd, Loughborough  1998   4-1-11  26.00"   1481.0Hz (F#+1c)
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough               1957   4-0-20  26.875"  1323.0Hz (E+6c)
4 Matthew Bagley I, Evesham                    1688   5-1-22  30.25"   1178.0Hz (D+5c)
5 Matthew Bagley I, Evesham                    1688   5-3-11  31.625"  1050.0Hz (C+6c)
6 Matthew Bagley I, Evesham                    1688   6-2-10  33.00"    991.0Hz (B+6c)
7 Matthew Bagley I, Evesham                    1688   8-0-02  35.75"    883.0Hz (A+6c)
8 Matthew Bagley I, Evesham                    1688  11-1-09  39.75"    786.0Hz (G+4c)

Photo Gallery

studley_bells_small The Church - Looking East. Source: Aidan MacRae Thomson The Church - Looking West. Source: Aidan MacRae Thomson
The Bells The Church - Looking East  The Church - Looking West 

STRATFORD UPON AVON Holy Trinity 10, 19-0-2 in E

Grid Reference 151/210543 Stratford Church - Source: M Chester
Postcode CV37 6BQ
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0945-1025
Practice Tuesday 1930-2100
Other Information Bells Website


A magnificent church with a central tower and spire near the river. Easy to see from a distance, but difficult to park near as the town gets busy with tourists. The most obvious connection is with William Shakespeare, whose remarkably simple gravestone is near to the high altar. During the day you enter through the main church door, after closing in the side of the transept to the left of it, and the way up to the bells is in the centre of the church. The tower door is in the North-West pier.

The church has no definite evidence of the 12th century, unless the roundheaded windows in the tower be accepted as such, but the influence of the earliest structure may explain why the nave is deflected considerably to the north of the axial line of the other parts of the church. The earliest features are the early-13th-century transepts and the upper part of the tower. In the east and west walls of the north transept are remains of narrow arches which apparently opened into 12th- or 13th-century aisles north of the nave and former chancel. Presumably the pre-existing nave had narrow aisles, and the transepts and tower and a chancel with aisles were the first important enlargements of the plan.

The second great work of enlargement was in the early years of the 14th century. It is recorded that John de Stratford, then Bishop of Winchester, founded a chantry on 8 Oct. 1331 in the chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr in the south aisle of the parish church, which he had recently rebuilt.  The sequence was, therefore, as follows:

  1. the reconstruction of the tower, at least in the lower part, c. 1310;
  2. the widening of the nave, with new arcades, and the rebuilding and widening of the north aisle, c. 1320; and finally
  3. the south aisle.

The tower arches cannot be earlier than the 14th century and were probably widenings of the original archways. The upper stages of the tower have some early-13th-century details. The circular windows are of the 14th century, but above them are traces of earlier windows.

The two nave-arcades are of one date and detail, except that the southern was spaced with regard to the projecting stair-turret of the tower, which was probably built at the same time; The three eastern windows in the north aisle are probably contemporary and are certainly earlier than those in the south aisle. The fourth window in the north wall was evidently re-used from one of the earlier walls and this, combined with the later style of the windows west of it, suggests that the widening of the aisle extended over a period, up to near the middle of the century at the west end. 

The next period of extensive alteration was late in the 15th century. The chancel was entirely rebuilt by Dean Thomas Balshall, who died in 1491 and was buried in a tomb made in his lifetime. The clearstory of the nave was rebuilt and heightened, probably by Ralph Collingwood, the successor of Thomas Balshall. The whole of the walling above the actual arches was replaced with panelled ashlar below the windows. The west end of the nave was provided with a wider doorway, and the wall above it entirely rebuilt with the fine great window. The north doorway had perhaps been replaced by a wider one earlier in the century, but the north porch was added probably by Collingwood, as it impinges on the fifth window of the aisle owing to the pre-existence of the doorway. There seems to have been some intention to rebuild the transepts, as Hugh Clopton (1496) and Thomas Handys (1502) bequeathed money for the rebuilding of the 'cross aisle'. If so the work was obviously never proceeded with.

There was a building, removed in 1799, north of the chancel resembling somewhat the chapels still existing at Solihull Church. It was of two or three stories (descriptions vary), the lowest being vaulted and half below ground, and it became known as the Charnel house or bone-hole from the subsequent usage of the crypt. The chamber above may well have been a vestry or sacristy (there is no proper vestry attached to the church), although it is now described as having been a 'study' for the clergy. Its age is conjectural, but the doorway into it—now blocked—is of Collingwood's time, though it seems likely that the building was only remodelled by Collingwood when he apportioned a part of it as a dormitory for four boy choristers who were to be 'daily assistants in the celebration of divine Service'.

The church suffered many vicissitudes after the Reformation, when the rood, the chantry-chapels, &c., were abolished and many of the carvings were mutilated and glass destroyed. The chancel was boarded off from the rest of the church and it was in a bad condition at the end of the 16th century. The corporation in 1593 petitioned Lord Burleigh to use his influence for its repair, but apparently without success as it was pronounced 'ruinous' in 1618 (two years after Shakespeare's burial in the chancel). Some repairs were executed in 1621–2, the walls 'mended' and painted and the windows glazed.

The stone spire was built by William Hiorn of Warwick in 1763; it is said to have replaced a wooden spire that had caused much trouble.

According to "Church Bells of Warwickshire by Tilley and Walters", in 1683 a new ring of 6, tenor c.14cwt, was cast by Matthew Bagley out of the pre-existing five bells. The tenor was recast by Richard Sanders in 1717 and the third by him in 1733. The treble was recast by Henry Bagley in 1742. There have eight here since 1887, the tenor weighing in at c.18cwt. Taylors recast the third and fourth bells and added two more to make the octave and provided a new frame and fittings. The inscriptions on these bells were all incised. 

Taylors recast and augmented the ring in 1948, producing, effectively, a brand new installation. They hang in a in a single level cast iron lowside frame. They go well and sound glorious: a classic Taylor ring of that period. Tenor frequency equates to E-18c. All bells were cast with flat tops.

The local bells website states:-
"The first record of bells in the tower is from 1502 when a legacy of 6/8d (?0.33) was left towards their restoration. We have no record of their number or weights. In October 1617 the churchwardens reported: "we were cited Worcester because the bells were oute of order (Stratford was then in the Worcester Diocese). In December of the same year £4 12d. [£4.05] was paid for re-casting. The next bell-related memorandum in the Vestry minute book is from 1650: It was agreed upon yt there shalbe a leavy made for the gathering of [£10] vizt. [£5] for the Towne, and [£5] for the parish to cast three new belles......"

The local ringers removed the Warner bell of 1881, (4-2-12 with a diameter of 28.125"), from the old cemetery chapel and hung it for electric chiming as a service/sacring bell in 1994. The canons have been removed from this bell.

Details of the Bells

 1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948   5-1-02  26.75"  1649.0Hz (G#-13c)
 2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948   5-1-10  27.50"  1468.0Hz (F#-14c)
 3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948   5-1-06  28.50"  1309.0Hz (E-13c)
 4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948   5-3-14  29.75"  1231.0Hz (D#-19c)
 5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948   6-3-08  31.50"  1099.0Hz (C#-15c)
 6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948   8-0-16  34.00"   979.0Hz (B-15c)
 7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948  10-0-23  37.00"   869.0Hz (A-22c)
 8 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948  11-3-01  39.00"   820.0Hz (G#-22c)
 9 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948  14-2-02  42.50"   733.0Hz (F#-16c)
10 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1948  19-0-02  47.00"   652.5Hz (E-18c)

Details of the Pre-1947 Bells

 1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1887   5-0-08
 2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1887   5-0-27
 3 Henry Bagley I, Chacombe        1742   6-0-07
 4 Matthew Bagley I, Chacombe      1683   6-0-26
 5 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough   1887   6-3-22
 6 John Taylor & Co, Lougborough   1887   8-2-06
 7 Matthew Bagley I, Chcombe       1683  12cwt
 8 Richard Sanders, Bomsgrove      1733  18cwt

Photo Gallery

stratford_old_bells_small stratford_new_bells_small The Old Sixth. Source: Stratford Tower 
The Old Bells, Removed
From the Tower in 1948 
The New Bells Arrive at
the Church, October 1948 
 A picture of the 6th of the
previous ring of 8.
stratford_bells_down_small stratford1_bells1_small  
Looking Down 
on the bells
A Close-Up of
Bells, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 10
stratford_spire_small stratford_table_small stratford_ringing_room_small
Looking up the Spire The Table - Made From the Wheel
of the Cemetery Chapel Bell
The Ringing Room
The Chancel. Source: Mike Chester The Church - Looking West. Source: Mike Chester The Centre of the Church. Source: Mike Chester
The Chancel The Church - Looking West  Underneath the central tower,
showing the bell hatch 
William Shakespeare's Grave. Source: Mike Chester The Church - Looking East. Source: Mike Chester  The Tower Door. Source: Mike Chester
William Shakespeare's Grave  Looking from the centre of the
church towards the east end.
The Tower Door
in the North-West pier. 
Plan of the Church. Source: British History Online
Plan of the Church

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