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LEAMINGTON SPA St Peter (R.C.) 8, 16-0-4 in F

Grid Reference 151/317657 Leamington Spa RC Church - Source: Guild of St Agatha
Postcode CV32 5BB
Recordings and
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals None
Ringing By arrangement, usually for important services
Other Information Church Website

History

Located in Dormer Place, you can see this church from the steps at the west of the parish church which is located a few hundred yards away on the opposite side of the River Leam.

The slender brick tower is connected to the main church via a low entrance corridor and it therefore gets little support from the body of the church. The tower looks a little out of scale with the rest of the church, but this is due to the fact that the pyramidal spire had to be removed for safety reasons in about 1950.

The bells are hung high in the tower and, as a result of this, they are extremely difficult to ring well. This is principally due to a significant amount tower movement. This movement can be clearly felt in the tower, even at its lower stages, when the bells are rung. This is a real pity as they are a magnificent sounding ring of bells - one of, if not, the best in the county.

Perhaps there will be a solution to the tower sway at some stage in the future, possibly involving a large sprung weight at the top of the tower. However, at present, these bells are only rung on important church occasions, around once a month or so. Even experienced ringers can find these bells very difficult to handle, as one bell being allowed to "drop" or the ringer of a bell hitting the stay, for instance, can affect other bells.

Inexperienced ringers are, regrettably but understandibly, not encouraged to ring here. It could well be very detrimental to their confidence if they did try to ring here. Ringers must ring as if the bell will drop noticeably, but it might not! The best speed is a fair bit slower than the weight of the bells would suggest.

The tower was not built when the church was opened in 1864. It was eventually built in 1877-8, at the cost of Miss France, who contributed generously to the building of the church itself. This church was burnt down in 1883, except for the tower which had been put up in 1878, but was rebuilt in red brick with stone dressings in 1884. It is within the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham. The current bells replace a ring of six (tenor 14-1-8) cast by William Blews of Birmingham in 1877.  They were rung from a floor lower in the tower than they are at present - at the level of the top of the spiral staircase, approximately at the level of the lower light band in the tower. 

The Blews bells cost £562 and were in poor order by 1903. The order for recasting them by Taylors was in hand towards the end of 1905. Within a matter of weeks before the planned dedication on November 16th, the Parish ordered 2 trebles to make up the eight. The works, apparently, had only 15 days to complete them! They are hung in a two tier cast iron frame. The lower tier is of H-frame design and the upper tier, containing bells 1, 2 & 5, is of lowside construction. A wooden staircase round the walls of the tower was created to the new, higher, ringing room. This is approximately at the hight white band in the tower.

The tenor was rehung on ball bearings by Taylors in 1931.

For some periods of time these bells have been mainly chimed (rather than rung) since an Ellacombe chiming apparatus was installed by Taylors in 1955, though most ringing today is full-circle.

An angelus bell was installed in 2005, the gift of Fr. David Cawley, originally cast for Mount St Bernard Abbey in Leicester. It was displaced there in 1939 by the present massive two bells.

Entry is from the base of the tower.

The following article is contemporary with the casting of the first ring

The New Peal Of Bells. Reported in the Birmingham Daily Post, The Birmingham Daily Gazette, and the Sutton & Erdington News (Oct 31st 1878 & Nov 2nd 1878)

CONSECRATION OF THE BELLS.
ST. PETER'S CHURCH, LEAMINGTON.

The ceremony of the blessing of the new peal of bells which are about to be erected in the tower of this church (recently completed from the designs of Mr. Henry Clutton of London), was celebrated on Wednesday afternoon (30th Oct) by the Hon. and Rev. Wm. CLIFFORD D.D., Bishop of Clifton, deputed by Dr. ULLATHORNE, Bishop of Birmingham, assisted by Cannon O'SULLIVAN, Vicar General of the Diocese of Birmingham, Cannon JEFFRIES of Leamington, Cannon LONGMAN, the Rev. V. CAVE and other clergy.

The bells were founded by Messers Wm. Blews of Birmingham, and they form a sister peal to that recently erected by them at Erdington Abbey.

The weight of the peal is around 58cwt and they cost £562, with £120 for the massive strong woodwork from which they hang.

The bells are cast from Lake Superior copper and refined tin, and they are considered very sweet and powerful in tone.

(By 1903 these bells were out of order.)

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1905   4-3-15 26.625"  1444.0Hz (F#-43c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1905   5-0-11 27.625"  1359.5Hz (E#-47c)
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1905   5-2-03 29.50"   1210.0Hz (D#-49c)
4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1905   6-0-27 31.50"   1081.0Hz (C#-44c)
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1905   7-1-18 34.00"    961.0Hz (B-48c)
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1905   8-0-00 35.50"    904.0Hz (A+47c)
7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1905  11-1-26 39.50"    809.5Hz (G#-45c)
8 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1905  16-0-04 44.50"    720.0Hz (F#-47c) (or F-2c Old Concert Pitch)

Angelus Bell
John Taylor & Son, Loughborough,  1852, 1-0-6 in A. (1807Hz - A+46c)

The inscription is IN TEMPLVM VIVOS / IN TVMVLVM MORTVOS / CONVOCAMVS in rather fine gothic capitals, designed by Charles Hansom.

Details of the Previous Bells

1 William Blews & Son, Birmingham  1877   5-0-20 29.625"
2 William Blews & Son, Birmingham  1877   6-2-00 32.125"
3 William Blews & Son, Birmingham  1877   7-0-22 34.625"
4 William Blews & Son, Birmingham  1877   8-1-07 36.375"
5 William Blews & Son, Birmingham  1877  11-0-17 40.00"
6 William Blews & Son, Birmingham  1877  14-1-08 44.125"
These are "scrapping" weights: (recorded by J.Taylor & Co, in 1905. researched by CJP)

Inscriptions On The Bells

Inscription, (Translation), Dedication & Baptismal Sponsors

Treble

206 / JOHN TAYLOR & CO. * FOVNDERS * LOVGHBOROVGH * 1905 * / (vine border all round)
On waist: DE PROFVNDIS CLAMAVI AD TE DOMINE / * * * / IESVS SALVATOR MVNDI DONA OMNIBVS / FIDELIBVS DEFVNCTIS REQVIEM AETERNA
(Out of the depths I cried unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, Saviour of the world, grant to the faithful departed eternal rest)
Name: Jesu, Lover of Souls Sponsors: Rev.Father H.D. Yeo and Mrs.Willes

Second
172 / JOHN TAYLOR & CO. * FOVNDERS * LOVGHBOROVGH * 1905 * / (vine border all round) On waist: ANGELI DOMINI DOMINVM / BENEDICITE IN AETERNVM / * * * / OMNES ANGELO DEI ORATE PRO NOBIS. (Ye Angels of the Lord, bless Ye the Lord for ever. All Ye Angels of the Lord pray for us) Name: Holy Angels Sponsors: Mr. J. J. Parfitt and Mrs. White

Third
151 / RECAST BY JOHN TAYLOR & CO. * LOVGHBOROVGH * LEICESTERSHIRE * 1905 * / (vine border all round) On waist: ISTE SANCTVS PRO LEGE DEI SVI / CERTAVIT VSQVE AD MORTEM / * * * / SANTE THOMA ORA PRO ANGLIA (This Saint strove for the law of his God even unto death, and was not afraid of the words of the wicked. St.Thomas pray for England.) Name: St. Thomas of Canterbury Sponsors: Mr. J. R. Willington and Mrs. Hind

Fourth
143 / RECAST BY JOHN TAYLOR & CO. * LOVGHBOROVGH * LEICESTERSHIRE * 1905* / (vine border all round) On waist: SACERDOS MAGNVS / QVI IN DIEBVS SVIS / PLACVIT DEO / * * * / SANTE PATRITI ORA PRO NOBIS (A great High-Priest who in his days pleased God. St Patrick pray for us) Name: St.Patrick Sponsors: Colonel W. P. Magrath and Mrs. Willington

Fifth
131 / RECAST BY JOHN TAYLOR & CO. * LOVGHBOROVGH * LEICESTERSHIRE * 1905 * / (vine border all round) On waist: DEVS TVORVM MILITVM / SORS ET CORONA /* * * / SANTE GEORGI ORA PRO NOBIS (God, the lot and crown of Thy soldiers. St. George pray for us) Name: St. George Sponsors: Mr. J. F. Shaw and Mrs. Bowyer

Sixth
147 / RECAST BY JOHN TAYLOR & CO. * LOVGHBOROVGH * LEICESTERSHIRE * 1905 * / (vine border all round) On waist: IESVS ERAT SVBDITVS ILLIS / * * * / SANTE IOSEPH ORA PRO NOBIS (Jesus was subject unto them. St. Joseph pray for us) Name: St. Joseph. Sponsors: Mr. A. Newdigate and Mrs. Goodfellow

Seventh
208 / RECAST BY JOHN TAYLOR AND CO. * LOVGHBOROVGH * LEICESTERSHIRE * 1905 * / (vine border all round) On waist: TV ES PETRVS / ET SVPER HANC PETRAM / AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM / * * * / SANTE PETRE ORA PRO NOBIS (Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. St.Peter pray for us) Name: St.Peter Sponsors: Rev. Cannon William Greaney and Miss Hade

Tenor
175 / RECAST BY JOHN TAYLOR & CO. / LOVGHBOROVGH * LEICESTERSHIRE * 1905 * / (vine border all round) On waist: AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA / DOMINVS TECVM / * * * / SANTA MARIA ORA PRO NOBIS (Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with Thee. St. Mary pray for us) Name: St. Mary. Sponsors: Rev.Father A. E. Emery and Hon Lady Smythe

Inscriptions taken from a document prepared by CJP in 1976
Translations and sponsors taken from The Leamington Spa Courier
Bells 1 – 7 have Victorian Gothic Capitals
The Tenor has Large Bold Hansom Gothic Capitals

Ringing the bells - note the care that 
needs to be taken to get good ringing.
No slack handling allowed here!
(Ringer of the 5th does look a bit nervous, it being
one of the even more challenging bells to ring!)
This Youtube Video by Paul Kibblewhite shows some
of the effects of the tower movement on the bells. 
Note the movement of the gudgeon in and out
of the plain bearing at the beginning, in particular.
(See also 2' 35" into this video again by Paul)

Photo Gallery

lrc3_small lrc5_small lrc4_small
The Wonderful Reredos  The Church -
Looking West 
The Church -
Looking East 
leamrc11_small lspa1947_small  
The Statue of
St Peter 
The Tower, With
Spire, in 1947
 
leamrc_small lrc_small leamrc4_small
The Angelus Bell Looking Down
on the Bells
Looking through from the
bottom to the top tier.
leamrc2_small leamrc5_small lspatenor_small
The Fifth Another View
of the Fifth
The Tenor, Before the
Frame Was Painted
leamrc6_small leamrc7_small leamrc8_small
The Tenors

The Tenor, After the
Frame Was Painted

The Inscription on
the Tenor
lrc2_small lrc6_small leamrc10_small
Just Visible in the
Ringing Room:-
 A Pencil Outline of
a Suggested Base
Beam Position if the
Bells Were Lowered
in the Tower. 
 The Old Ringing Room.
About 6/7m Lower in 
the Tower Than the
Present Ringing Room. 
The Ringing Room Ceiling - 5 of the holes 
for the ropes of old 6  can be seen -
the other one is possibly where the trap is;
the staircase was added at the time of
recasting and augmentation.

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