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Handsworth* St Mary 8, 15-2-22 in F

Grid Reference 139/055903 Handsworth Church - Source: David Kelly
Postcode B20 2RW
Recording - front 6
Affiliation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 1040-1100
Practice Wednesday 2000-2100 (Check first)


This church is historically in Staffordshire, but was, alongside a number of other areas, "absorbed" into Birmingham in 1911. It therefore geographically became part of Warwickshire, though never administered from Warwick. Handsworth became part of the West Midlands in 1974, as did many other places in Warwickshire.

The church dates from the twelfth century and the oldest parts of the present building date from around 1200. The building has been substantially enlarged and restored over time, with the addition of the Watt Chapel in 1826. Major work was undertaken during the church's restoration of 1876-8. The church is especially notable for the monuments and memorials to James Watt, Matthew Boulton and other leading figures of the industrial revolution.

There were "iiij belles" in 1553 and the number stayed the same until they were replaced by a ring of 6 cast by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston in 1701. In 1890 Barwells recast the treble and added two further trebles to complete the octave. They were rehung in a new wooden frame. By the time Taylors completely replaced the installation in 1955 the Barwell bells were still on their wooden headstocks, the others being on metal headstocks, possibly installed by J. E Groves, the local bellhanger, in the 1920s. The fourth had "a big chunk out of head" at this time. The back five had had their canons removed and been quarter turned. The Ringing World of 30th May 1919 gives the St Martin's Guild ringers' impression of the bells at the time, "The bells are a light ring o f eight, tenor about 12 cwt. in F sharp, and none too good. However, they go well, and were kept busy in various methods during the afternoon and evening."

This is a very good ring, similar in nature to Warwick, St Nicholas, which were cast two years later and with a very similar tenor weight and frequencies. They hang in a single level cast iron lowside frame.

(Most of the above information is quoted directly (with permission) from the research notes of Chris Pickford)

Details of the Bells

1. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1955   4-1-12  26.06"   1404.0Hz (F+9c)
2. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1955   4-3-24  27.25"   1323.0Hz (E+6c)
3. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1955   5-0-04  28.00"   1176.0Hz (D+2c)
4. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1955   5-1-26  30.375"  1044.0Hz (C-4c)
5. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1955   6-0-26  32.50"    928.0Hz (Bb-8c)
6. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1955   7-3-20  35.00"    875.0Hz (A-10c)
7. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1955  11-0-05  39.125"   778.5Hz (G-12c)
8. John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1955  15-2-22  43.875"   692.0Hz (F-16c)

Details of the Previous Bells

1. James Barwell, Birmingham       1890   4-3-10  26.75"   1553.5Hz (G-16c)
2. James Barwell, Birmingham       1890   4-3-24  27.675"  1439.0Hz (F#-49c)
3. James Barwell, Birmingham       1890   4-3-08  28.125"  1299.0Hz (E-26c)
4. Joseph Smith, Edgbaston         1701   5-2-16  30.25"   Unknown - bell broken 
5. Joseph Smith, Edgbaston         1701   6-1-13  32.50"   1023.0Hz (C-39c)
6. Joseph Smith, Edgbaston         1701   7-0-25  33.75"    976.0Hz (B-21c)
7. Joseph Smith, Edgbaston         1701   9-2-14  37.50"    867.0Hz (A-26c)
8. Joseph Smith, Edgbaston         1701  11-0-10  40.375"   755.0Hz (G-65c)


Photo Gallery

The Church - Looking East. Source: Church Website James Watts' Tomb. Source: Church Website Matthew Boulton's Memorial. Source: Church Website
The Church - Looking East The Statue on James Watts' Tomb Matthew Boulton's Memorial

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