Local Tower Information

Bristol Rural Branch

Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association

St Anne Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Siston - click for a larger versionSt Anne Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Siston



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Although this tower is known to date from the 13th Century, the church itself having been built around 1100 on the site of a 500-year-old Celtic Temple, there is no record of the original bells. A ring of five existed in 1759, comprising the present fourth, fifth and tenor, along with the previous second and third. Nothing is known of these previous bells, however the second is thought to have been cast considerably earlier than 1664 when Roger Purdue II cast the present fourth and fifth.

The ring was augmented to six in 1787 with the addition of a new 26¾-inch diameter treble by William Bilbie. It was hung in its own frame above the other five and immediately below the roof, and had a curious iron wheel. The frame was rebuilt using some of the old timbers in 1860, the second bell being recast. Little is known of this bell either, Ellacombe listing it in 1881 simply as "Blank. A recast about 1860", and with a diameter of 28 inches. In this frame the second, fifth and tenor each had one bearing set into large oak beams in the louvre sills.

The installation was declared unsafe in the late 1920s, but it was to be more than 60 years before the bells were rehung in 1991. Once work began, however, progress was swift. Within a week the bells had been removed from the tower and transported to John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd where the treble and second were recast and the others retuned with them, and the third and tenor had their canons removed (those on the fourth and fifth were retained). Meanwhile, the old frame and fittings were removed from the tower in anticipation of the bells' return, and the Ringing Room was moved from the ground floor up onto a new gallery. The new steel frame was installed and the bells rehung within a fortnight, the fourth being hung alone in the upper tier, then another new floor was built immediately below the frame. The entire project was completed in less than eight weeks.

It is believed that the very first Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus was installed in the ground floor of this tower, probably in around 1860. However, it was removed when the bells were rehung in 1991 and is now in storage in the chamber between the Ringing Room and the belfry.

The bells of St Anne Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Siston
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
14-1-04 26¾ inE John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd 1991
24-2-23 28¼ inD John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd 1991
34-3-12 30 inC John Rudhall 1828
45-3-10 32¼ inB Roger Purdue II 1664
56-3-14 34¾ inA Roger Purdue II 1664
69-2-12 38¾ inG William Evans 1759

Source: Bell data from Dove's Guide. Further information from "The Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (Revd Henry Thomas Ellacombe, 1881), John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd, DistrictWeb and Mervyn Gibbs.

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.