Lost Rings

Bristol Branch

Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association

St Mary Magdalene, Stoke Bishop



This church was built between 1858 and 1871 to serve the local landed gentry. Its tower was furnished with a clock and a ring of six bells, upon which the hours and quarter hours were sounded, and an Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus was also provided in the first floor Ringing Room. Hung in a wooden frame, the bells were first rung on Sunday, 6th September 1874. Their wheels were somewhat on the small side, to the extent that the tail ends of the three smallest bells' ropes didn't even reach the Ringing Room floor - something not normally expected with bells weighing more than about 3 cwt - and as a result they were quite difficult to ring.

In 1978 it became apparent that there was excessive movement in the joints of the bellframe. Rehanging the bells in a new frame would be necessary, but instead the unusual decision was made to recast them into the present, lighter ring of six, which was then hung higher in the tower to make their sound carry further. The Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus was also removed at this time, and the clock chimes were not reinstated on the new bells. Unlike in many cases of lighter rings replacing heavier ones, there was no concern about the structure of the tower as it is relatively modern and well-built.

The bells of St Mary Magdalene, Stoke Bishop
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
16-0-14 29½ inE John Taylor & Co. 1874
26-1-17 31½ inD John Taylor & Co. 1874
37-2-09 33¼ inC John Taylor & Co. 1874
47-3-03 34½ inB John Taylor & Co. 1874
59-1-18 37¼ inA John Taylor & Co. 1874
613-0-16 41½ inG John Taylor & Co. 1874

Source: Bell details from a document in Stoke Bishop Ringing Room, with additional information from ChurchCrawler (Phil M. Draper), the website of St Mary Magdalene Church, Stoke Bishop, and Will Willans.

Where a bell's exact weight is known, it is given in the traditional way using the British imperial units of Hundredweight, Quarters and Pounds (cwt-qtr-lb) in which there are 28 pounds in a quarter, four quarters in a hundredweight, and 20 hundredweight in a ton (one hundredweight is equal to approximately 50.8 kilograms). However, if only an approximate or calculated weight is known, it is given to the nearest quarter of a hundredweight.

A bell's diameter is measured across its mouth (open end) at the widest point and is given in inches (to the nearest quarter of an inch), one inch being equal to approximately 2.54 centimetres.