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LEAMINGTON SPA All Saints 8, 12-3-16 in G

Grid Reference 151/320654 Leamington Spa Parish Church - Source M Chester
Postcode CV31 1EE
Recording
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0945-1030
Practice Monday 1930-2100
Access via Clock Tower door in Priory Terrace

History

This church stands out in the middle of the town, just over the river from the council buildings. Once very much smaller, it was expanded greatly as the town prospered as a result of its spa. There has been much restoration of the Spa Centre recently.

The church has been adapted slightly to provide a room at the west end. It is worth looking round prior to ringing. Look for the model of the proposal for the completed church. The intention was for an even grander edifice.

The old church was a small building, consisting of chancel and nave, apparently of the 13th century, with a west tower added in the 14th century, to which period also belonged a large three-light window in the centre of the south wall of the nave; there was also a south porch of 17th- or 18th-century date. The church was first improved in 1825-6 when a new tower was built - and six bells installed. Further improvements from the 1840s were carried out under the grand schemes of the Rev. Dr. Craig, who in 1843 obtained an estimate for a 33cwt ten to hang in the central tower he intended for the church, c.£1,200. From the right angle you can spot easily that this tower only reached roof level. The new church is significantly bigger and grander than was the previous building. From about 1860 until 1889 the bells were hung in a temporary wooden belfry at the side of the church. They were afterwards stored in the crypt for 12 years until being rehung in the new tower in 1901.

At the 1901 restoration a new tower was built and the the bells were augmented by adding a treble and tenor and recasting the existing 4th. The frame and fittings are by Mears & Stainbank, 1902, restored in 1976-7 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry who fitted new cast iron headstocks to bells 7 & 8 and rehung all the bells on ball bearings. The bells all have canons and the older ones have been quarter turned. The dedication of the tower and bells is recording in "Bell News and Ringers' Record" in their edition of November 1st 1902:

DEDICATION OF A NEW TOWER AND BELLS AT LEAMINGTON .
Thursday, October 30th, was a red-letter day in the annals of “ Leafy Leamington,” for it was the day set apart for the dedication of the new tower and peal of eight bells at the parish church of All Saints. Originally the church possessed a peal of six, housed in a wooden tower. Some years ago this tower was demolishd with the view of eventually erecting a substantial-stone tower, and the powers that be also grasped the opportunity to increase their bells to the octave. However, though it is well on the way for twenty years since the scheme was put under weigh, it was not until the present Vicar, the Rev. Cecil Hook, took up his position in 1896, that it took any definite form. The tower, which is from the design of the late Sir Arthur Blomfield, is on the south-west corner of the church, and rises to an height of 145 feet to the top of the pinnacles, and is 26 feet square.

Dedication day was opened with Holy Communion at 6, 7, and 8 a.m .; Matins at 8.30, and choral Eucharist at II. At 1.30 there was a public luncheon in the Town Hall, presided over by the Vicar. Responding to the toast of “ Prosperity to the Leamington Parish Church ” the Rev. Cecil Hook expressed his pleasure at the support accorded him. He could not reply to all the good things said of him, but it rejoiced his heart that on every occasion of anything to do with the rev. chairman, its past Vicars were always with them. He rejoiced that Mr. Furneaux was with them, and also Dean Leigh— sitting between two bottles of champagne. Referring to the benefactions they had received, he mentioned that Mr. Badger had given them £100 and the new tenor, and had left them £1000 for decorative purposes ; Mr. Hutchinson had given them £300 to hang the bells; the patron of the living (Rev. W . G. Wise) had given them £100 per year ; the Misses Teulon had given them the treble ; and, lastly, VIrs. Urquhart had given them £4060 towards the completion of the tower.

After the luncheon the Mayor and Corporation walked .n procession to the parish church, where the dedication service was timed to commence at 3.30, the Bishop of Worcester officiating. The first portion of the service was performed inside the church, following which the procession reformed and marched to the front of the tower outside the church. The streets were lined with people, all vehicular traffic being stopped. The Bishop having dedicated the tower and bells, the “ Old Hundredth ” was sung, following which the bells were run round a few times on the Ellacombe apparatus. The Hallelujah Chorus and The Blessing concluded the ceremony. A public tea followed in the Winter Hall, to be succeeded by evensong at 8 p.m.

The tower is a fine structure of the Perpendicular style, and bears resemblance to Gloucester Cathedral. The old six bells (all by Mears, 1826), have had a treble and tenor added, and the old 4th recast, and are now a handy little eight with a tenor of 13 cwt. 1 lb. in F. The work was entrusted to Messrs. Mears and Stainbank, who have undoubtedly carried it out in the usual good way for which they are noted. By the architects’ wish the bells will not be rung for some few months yet, to allow the tower to “ settle.” In the meantime, however, endeavours are being made to have a company of ringers ready for the opening day, in which the Rev. Cecil Hook, the Rev. J. D. Cranstcun, and Dr. Miles Atkinson (churchwarden), are taking a lively interest. For some few weeks the coming ringers have been endeavouring to master the “ intricacies ” of Plain Bob on handbells, and in neighbouring towers. The whole of the new tower, including the bell-chamber and staircase, is lit by electricity, and every encouragement being given to the young ringers to take that interest and pride in it and its contents of which it is so worthy. It should be added that Dr. Miles Atkinson has kindly added a new peal of handbells to the equipment of the ringing

There is a clock bell (8½cwt) in the NW tower. It is by Hugh Watts II, 1628. It was one of the original ring of four, displaced in 1826 when the new ring of six was put up. It went to Christ Church, but came back to replace the 1848 clock bell (16-0-13) in 1957.

The tower entrance is inside the west door, to the right. The door used to enter the church itself depends on the time of your visit and could be at the west or down the north side of the church. via the Clock Tower door. There is a door bell at the base of the tower you can ring for entry on a practice night.

A busy town it is best during the daytime to find a pay and display car park rather than attempting to find a free space.

Details of the Bells

1 Mears & Stainbank, London  1901   4-0-10  26.00"
2 Thomas Mears II, London    1826   4-0-17  27.00"
3 Thomas Mears II, London    1826   4-3-15  28.50"
4 Thomas Mears II, London    1826   5-2-21  31.00"
5 Mears & Stainbank, London  1901   7-0-14  34.00"
6 Thomas Mears II, London    1826   7-2-14  35.00"
7 Thomas Mears II, London    1826   9-2-09  38.50"
8 Mears & Stainbank, London  1901  12-3-16  41.50"

Photo Gallery

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The Church in 1826 The Tower Under
Construction
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A View Showing the Clock Tower The Church - Looking East 
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The Ringers in 1953 The Clock Bell in 1957
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Christ Church c.1955 Christ Church Being
Demolished in 1959. 

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