Lost Rings

Bristol Branch

Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association

St Peter-le-Port, Bristol - click for a larger versionSt Peter-le-Port, Bristol



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This Medieval church was built only a short time after Bristol Castle, although the only surviving Norman parts are the lower stages of the tower. It was almost destroyed during the Civil War when, on 17th July 1634, the Parliamentarian Governor of Bristol Castle ordered the demolition of both this church and that of Ss Philip & Jacob nearby to prevent besieging Royalists from using them as bases for attacking the castle, as cannon could be placed on the roof. However, before the order could be carried out, Prince Rupert arrived with 20,000 soldiers and overwhelmed the Parliamentarians. There are records of major repairs in 1657, so it seems likely the church was damaged during the Civil War. The upper stage of the tower and pinnacles were either added or rebuilt at this time.

In addition to the ring of eight, in 1881 Ellacombe records a blank but "ancient" Sanctus bell. As with so many Bristol towers, this one was gutted by fire in 1940. Its shell remains in Castle Park as a memorial to the war, and in October 2008 a list of Bristol citizens who lost their lives in World War II was mounted on the building. The tower still shows evidence of a diamond-shaped clock dial on its north wall which originally faced Peter Street.

The bells of St Peter-le-Port, Bristol
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
15½ cwt 30½ inEb Abraham Rudhall II 1729
25¾ cwt 30½ inD Abraham Rudhall II 1729
37 cwt 32¾ inC Abraham Rudhall II 1729
48 cwt 34½ inBb Abraham Rudhall II 1729
510 cwt 37½ inAb Abraham Rudhall II 1729
611½ cwt 39 inG Abraham Rudhall II 1729
715 cwt 42¾ inF Abraham Rudhall II 1729
819 cwt 48½ inEb Abraham Rudhall II 1729

Source: Bell data from "The Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (Revd Henry Thomas Ellacombe, 1881). Key note from "Bells & Bellfounding" (X-Y-Z, 1879). Weight of tenor from the Keltek Trust; other weights estimated personally. Further information from About Bristol and the website of Ss Philip & Jacob (known locally as "Pip'n'Jay").

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.