Lost Rings

Bristol Rural Branch

Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association

St Barnabas, Warmley - click for a larger versionSt Barnabas, Warmley



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Following their installation in 1856, these bells weren't touched for a hundred years until they were rehung by John Taylor & Co. in 1956. Ten years later on Monday, 11th April 1966 they were used in the ringing of a landmark peal of 5040 changes of Mixed Doubles, comprising 118 methods and variations. Rung by the Sunday Service band in 2 hours and 40 minutes, it was the greatest number of methods or variations rung in a peal for all six ringers, in the county and for the Association.

By the end of 1970, however, the frame was beginning to deteriorate and rehanging was necessary. This would have been the ideal opportunity to augment the ring, but with costs rising it was decided instead to recast the six into a miniature ring of eight. In 1974, however, the church of Emmanuel, Clifton was made redundant and its fine ring of eight bells needed a new home. The Warmley ringers immediately expressed an interest, but the Archdeacon of Bristol was more concerned about saving the eight bells of St George, Bristol whose church which was about to be demolished. He wouldn't allow them to have the bells from Emmanuel, insisting on a straight swap with the bells from St George and leaving them with only cost of the new frame and fittings to cover.

Once Warmley's original six bells had been replaced with the present ring from St George, they were transported to America where they were hung dead for chiming at a ranch for children. The whereabouts of the bells now is something of a mystery as nobody seems able to agree on just where this ranch is - Atlanta (Georgia), Boston (Massachusetts) and Alabama are all likely candidates - and it isn't known whether the bells are even still in the same place.

The bells of St Barnabas, Warmley
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
14-2-00 27½ inF Charles & George Mears 1856
25-0-25 29½ inEb Charles & George Mears 1856
36-3-20 32 inDb Charles & George Mears 1856
46-3-20 33 inC Charles & George Mears 1856
58-1-13 35½ inBb Charles & George Mears 1856
610-2-25 40 inAb Charles & George Mears 1856

Source: Bell data from a document in Warmley Ringing Room, with diameters and key note from "The Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (Revd Henry Thomas Ellacombe, 1881). Further information from Bill & Rita Lampard, Derek & Claire Wilkins-Smith, and The Ringing World 3396 (pages 453-4) and 4378 (pages 294-6).

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.