Local Tower Information

Bristol Rural Branch

Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association

St Thomas à Becket, Pucklechurch - click for a larger versionSt Thomas à Becket, Pucklechurch



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The original second and tenor bells (diameters 33 inches and 43½ inches respectively) were cast by William Purdue III & Richard Purdue II in 1650, the tenor weighing 12-0-26. Both bells were dedicated to members of the Dennis family who were leading local landowners. A third bell (the present treble) was cast in 1780 and hung by Francombe & Davis - this is recorded in the bell's inscription. The ring of six was completed in 1796.

A nasty accident was only just avoided in 1929 when one Sunday morning the tenor fell from the frame. Although unharmed, the ringers fled from the church, never to be persuaded to ring again. The bells were then rehung in a new cast iron and steel frame with new fittings throughout (the second being recast) by Gillett & Johnston, the canons being retained on at least the four 18th Century bells, and a new band of ringers had to be recruited. Change ringing didn't reach the village until 1952, after the ringers had attended the Ringing School at St John the Baptist, Bristol (known locally as "St John-on-the-Wall").

An Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus is in the ground floor of the tower. In the Ringing Room is a weight-driven flat-bed clock by Gillett & Johnston that was given by Revd Sidney George Gillum (Vicar 1891-1910) and his family in 1923, replacing an old faceless clock that is now on loan to St James the Great, Abson. It strikes the hours on the fifth bell and its dial is on the south wall of the tower, although it has provision for a second dial on the north wall. Originally hand-wound, its heavy weights dropping to the ground floor of the tower, two epicyclic auto-winding motors were installed in about 2000, and their much smaller weights only drop to the Ringing Room floor.

The bells of St Thomas à Becket, Pucklechurch
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
16-3-04 31¾ inC William Bilbie 1780
27-0-00 33½ inBb Gillett & Johnston 1929
37-0-15 35¼ inAb Thomas Webb Bilbie & James Fear Bilbie 1796
48-0-19 37½ inG Thomas Webb Bilbie & James Fear Bilbie 1796
510-1-18 40 inF Thomas Webb Bilbie & James Fear Bilbie 1796
612-1-14 43½ inEb Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd 1985

Source: Bell data from Gillett & Johnston and Nick Bowden. Further information from "The Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (Revd Henry Thomas Ellacombe, 1881), Edward Mould and Ann Wilson.

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.