A Short History of the Bells at All Hallows, Whitchurch.

Page 1



1st Edition Š D. A. Holmes 1989

By the same author: Church Bells of the Basingstoke District A History of Bells and Bellringing at St Mary’s Church Overton

Acknowledgements My thanks are due to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd for their help in providing information and to the Rev David Warner, the Whitchurch ringers and Nicholas Hussey for their help and co-operation.

Front cover: All Hallows Church, Whitchurch

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE BELLS AT ALL HALLOWS CHURCH, WHITCHURCH Pre-Reformation Historically, All Hallows Church is fortunate indeed in the fact that the two oldest bells in the present ring of 8 date from before the Reformation. The 6th was cast by the Wokingham Medieval Foundry and can almost certainly be regarded as the work of John Mitchell who cast bells there between circa 1487 and 1495. Although bells cast by this line of founders are fairly numerous, those actually attributed to John Mitchell are few and far between, one other example being the 3rd at Stanford Dingley in Berkshire.1 The inscription is of a type frequently used on bells from this foundry, the English translation being - SAINT MARGARET PRAY FOR US. The 4th was also cast by the Wokingham Medieval Foundry but unfortunately it cannot be traced to an individual founder. Although the crowned capitals used are similar to those on the 6th, the lower case lettering is completely different (see Plates I and II) and the pattern of moulding wires differs slightly. The inscription on the 4th is generally rather untidy compared to that on the 6th and there is a lack of the usual Wokingham stamps. Unfortunately both bells have had their canons removed so these cannot be compared. The Latin inscription on the 4th is not of a type usually associated with bells from the Wokingham Medieval Foundry. The English translation is VIRGIN MOTHER MAKE YOUR SON BE MERCIFUL TO US. Post-Reformation The 7th & 5th are by the Reading founder Henry Knight I and were cast in 1611 & 1612 respectively. The incised crosses on the crown of the 4th, 6th and 7th may date from 1611. From the inscription on the 3rd we know that it was recast by Robert Catlin of London in 1748 but the original founder in 1700 is unknown. Between them the Knight family cast bells at Reading between circa 1518 and 1739, the foundry moving from Reading to London in 1709 under Samuel Knight and being taken over by Robert Catlin in 1739. The Tenor was cast by William Tosier of Salisbury in 1724.2

1 2

Ref. The Church Bells of Berkshire, F Sharpe, p203, p251 & Plate XXXIII Ref. Church Bells of Wiltshire, H B Walters, p303




Scale of inches

Plate I. Whitchurch 4th spaces not to scale




Scale of inches

Plate II. Whitchurch 6th spaces not to scale

The 20th Century Almost 200 years elapsed before the Treble and 2nd were added to complete the present octave. These two bells were cast in 1919 by Mears & Stainbank of London, now The Whitechapel Bell Foundry. A Technical Description The 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & Tenor bells have all been scratch tuned and none of them retain their canons. The Treble & 2nd have ‘Doncaster’ heads and both are maiden castings. The back 6 bells are hung in a cast iron H frame installed by John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough in about 1885 with the Treble and 2nd in an adjoining cast iron braced (lowside) frame dating from 1919. All the bells swing east - west, with the 3rd & 4th, 5th & 6th and 7th & Tenor roped opposed and the Treble & 2nd roped unopposed. The bells are all fitted with timber headstocks, ball bearings and ‘Hastings’ type stays except the Treble and 2nd which have cast iron headstocks, ball bearings and traditional pattern stays and sliders. The wheels and pulleys are all of traditional pattern and the clappers are all hung from centre bolts. The bells are rung from the ground floor. The Details of the Bells Bell Diameter Weight Note Tenor 3’ 6” 14 - 0 - 0 approx. F sharp around inscription band : top line ; WILLIAM TOSIER CAST ME (fig. 1) RALPHE ETWALL IOHN BENHAM CVRCH WARDENS (fig. 1) bottom line ; WHEN I DOO TOLL E LORD RES E SOVL (fig. 1) IN THE YEAR OF OVR LORD Y Y J724 (fig. 1) 7th crown :

3’ 2”

9 - 2 - 0 approx.

G sharp

(incised) around inscription band : (fig. 2) HENRX KNXGHT MADE THXS BELL ANO X611 6th crown :

3’ 1 ”

9 - 0 - 0 approx.

A sharp

(incised) around inscription band: SANCTA MARGARETA ORA PRO NOBIS (fig. 4) ( fig. 5) (fig. 6) (fig. 7)

5th 2’ 11 ” 7 - 3 - 0 approx. B around inscription band : (fig. 3) ELXZABETH WARREN GAVE THXS BELL ANO X6X2 HK 4th crown :

2’ 10”

7 - 0 - 0 approx.

C sharp


around inscription band : VIRGO PARENS NATUM FAC NOBIS PROPICIATUM 3rd 2’ 5” 5 - 1 - 0 approx. D sharp around inscription band, all on one line : THE GIFT OF COLONEL SHRIMPTON J700 NEW CAST J748 R (fig. 8) CATLIN FECIT (fig. 9) 2nd 2’ 4” 4 - 2 - 17 around inscription band : MEARS & STAINBANK, FOUNDERS, LONDON. (M) waist: IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF J. C. BRAY, A. H. GATES AND A. PARE, RINGERS, AND OTHER MEN OF WHITCHURCH, WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR, 1914 - 1919.

E sharp


Abbreviations (M) : Mears foundry mark Weights are given in cwts - qtrs - lbs

Marks, Stamps and Ornaments

fig. 1

fig. 3

fig. 2

fig. 4

fig. 5

fig. 6

fig. 7

fig. 8



fig. 9


Scale of inches Figs. (1) Ornament used by William Tosier. (2 & 3) Cross used by Henry Knight I. (4, 5, 6 & 7) Wokingham Medieval Foundry stamps: (4) ‘New’ lion’s head; (5) Roger Landen’s shield (worn version); (6) Groat; (7) Crowned cross (upright version). (8 & 9) Ornaments used by Robert Catlin. Parts of a Bell Argent Canons

Crown Shoulder

Moulding wires

Inscription Band Waist



Bell Hung for Ringing with Traditional Fittings

Stay Headstock


Gudgeon Frame




Pulley Slider pivot

Notes on the Text A Doncaster Head is a ‘modern’ type of canon designed for a ring of 8 at Doncaster in 1858 and maiden casting is a term used to describe a bell which has not been tuned in any way. Tuning is achieved by removing small amounts of metal from the inside of the bell. This used to be done using a hammer and chisel or a chipping hammer and is now done on a vertical lathe. Hastings stays are fitted with a moving toggle and have fixed stops in place of a moving slider. Bells are generally hung roped opposed so that the forces exerted are approximately equal when the bells are rung.

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