St. Stephen, Barbourne

A new ring of eight bells has been installed to celebrate the church’s 150th anniversary

St Stephen's BarbourneThe tower contains a peal of eight bells, tenor ten cwt, which are a classic example of the best years of bellfounding by John Taylor and Co of Loughborough.

They were rescued by the Keltek Trust when the tower of their original home, St Nicholas Halewood, near Liverpool, was found to be structurally unsafe. The scheme to bring them to Worcester was conceived and led by Mark Regan. The project cost £100,000 and its principle funder was Bernard Taylor. The bells were installed under the direction of John Slater and first rung in November 2012.

The bells are available for peals, quarter peals and outings.

Ringing Times

09:30 – 10:00 for Sunday ringing.
Practice on Thursdays 19:30 – 21:00.

Video

Audio

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Barbourne bells (2m18s)

The Bells

St. Stephen’s church was built to serve the Barbourne district to the north of the City and was originally in the ancient parish of Claines. It is a large sandstone building with a pinnacled south west tower, built in 1860-1862 to the designs of Frederick Preedy, architect, and consecrated on 21 August 1862.

The Original Bell

The tower contains a large bell which is hung for ringing:

Founder and Date Diameter Mouldings Hz Note Cwt. Qrs. Lbs.
John Taylor & Co, 1862 46⅞ 2:2-2-1:3:2 663.5 E+11 16 2 18

Inscription:
(Mark or cross) IOHN (scroll border) TAYLOR (border) AND (border) CO (border) LOUGHBOROUGH (border) MDCCCLXII. (border) / (scroll border all round) / (arabesque border all round)

The inscription is in the Victorian gothic lettering favoured by Taylors at this date (cf Madresfield). The bell has angular canons set hexagonally on the crown. It has not been quarter turned.

The bell hangs in a deal frame provided by John Taylor & Co in 1862 (Bellframes type 6.A), and the fittings are also contemporary with the bell. The fittings include a wooden stock, hoop or continuous gudgeons, plain bearings, traditional wheel and traditional stay and slider. Although hung to be swung it is now only sounded by external hammers.

The bundle of bills for the erection of the church in the parish records includes Taylors’ bill to Mr. Gutch for the bell, dated 4 July 1862.

To bell for Barbourne New Church weight 16-2-18 @ £7/7s £122.9.1½.
Clapper for Do. As per estimate £1.5.0.
Hangings for Do. £9.0.0.
Rope for Do 10s.
Fir Frame for Do £6.0.0.
Carriage & fixing Do £4.10.0.
[total] £143.14.1½.

Endorsed “I certify this acct to be correct, Fredk. Preedy, archt, July 18 1862”

The Ringing Peal (2013)

In 2012 the parish acquired a second-hand ring of eight bells from Halewood, near Liverpool. These were installed in 2012-3, and the details are as follows:

Bell Weight Diameter (inches) Note Founder and date
Treble 4-0-5 25” G John Taylor & Co. Loughborough 1929
2 4-0-0 25½” F# John Taylor & Co. Loughborough 1929
3 4-0-0 26½” E John Taylor & Co. Loughborough 1929
4 5-1-17 28” D John Taylor & Co. Loughborough 1929
5 4-2-18 29½” C John Taylor & Co. Loughborough 1929
6 5-1-24 31” B John Taylor & Co. Loughborough 1929
7 7-1-5 34½” A John Taylor & Co. Loughborough 1929
Tenor 10-1-16 39” G John Taylor & Co. Loughborough 1929

Inscriptions:
1-8 Inscription Band:

CAST BY JOHN WARNER AND SONS 1882

Opposite side, below Inscription Band:

RECAST BY JOHN TAYLOR & CO, 1929

The tenor also has, on the waist:

THIS PEAL OF EIGHT BELLS
WAS RECAST AND REHUNG
THROUGH THE GENEROSITY
OF CAROLINE AUGUSTA BEST
1929
* * *
CHARLES ERNEST PROCTER * RECTOR
WILLIAM WALLS WALLER
THOMAS SLEE
CHURCHWARDENS
PETER BOARDMAN
RINGING MASTER

The bells have been hung with refurbished Taylor fittings – cast-iron stocks, ball bearings etc – in a new steel frame. The new frame (roughly on Bellframes layout 8.3) was designed by Barry Johnson of “Bell Johnson Consulting Engineers” and manufactured by NDS Engineering of Clifton on Teme. Installation was carried out by local ringers under the supervision of John Slater. The bells were first rung on their new home on Friday 8 November 2013.

The clock was provided by Joyce of Whitchurch in 1882. A later Joyce catalogue of c.1892 lists a clock supplied to “St.Stephen’s, Barbourne, Worcester, with four dials”.

The Project

150 years after Frederick Preedy built St Stephen’s Barbourne, the joyful sound of bells now ring out from the tower. The installation of new bells in St Stephen’s is linked with a teaching ministry to the local community and city schools, in partnership with Worcester Cathedral’s established teaching enterprise. It will help establish the City of Worcester in the forefront of bellringing and ensure the survival of this great English tradition in the 21st century.

Where have the bells come from?

An exciting opportunity arose late in 2011, when the lovely ring of eight bells from St Nicholas Halewood became available. Unfortunately their tower was declared unsafe. Working with the Keltek Trust, Bernard Taylor – a bellringer at Worcester Cathedral, generously bought the bells and gave them as a gift to start the project.

Halewood’s bells were cast in 1929 at Taylor’s Bellfoundry in Loughborough. They are a beautifully toned peal of bells and the largest weighs 10 cwt. St Stephen’s will be a perfect home for the bells and we are delighted to be working with the support of Halewood’s Parochial Church Council.

What has needed to be done in the tower?

The bells are hung in a new metal bell frame in the middle of the tower. The engineering design was carried out by Bell Johnson Ltd, a specialist firm who have worked on bell projects at Great St Mary’s Cambridge and Malvern Priory.

The bell frame was made locally by NDS Engineering at Clifton on Teme and the building works by Probert’s, a Worcester-based firm who specialise in church work. The bellhanging team comprised some of the Worcester Cathedral bellringers, led by John Slater – who had a long career as a bell tuner and bell hanger at London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Downloads

History of the Bells

Detailed history of the St. Stephen Barbourne bells by Chris Pickford

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