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ATHERSTONE St Mary 8, 8-1-6 in A

Grid Reference 140/309980 Atherstone Church - Source M Chester
Postcode CV9 1EY 
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 1030-1100 (Check) 
Practice Wednesday 1930-2045 (Irregular - check)
Other Information Church Website


The church is set in the Market Place and is therefore fairly easy to find.  There is some parking in Market Place and there is a large free car park to the south of the church - the church photograph being taken from its entrance.

It is a pleasant church worth a short look before ringing.  It is early 12th century in foundation. The chancel of the church was completed in 1385 as the church of an Augustinian Friary. At the Dissolution of the Monastries in 1538 this chancel ceased to be used for worship although the old nave was kept as a church. Following the granting of a school charter in 1573 the disused chancel became the home of the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and continued in this use until 1864. The distinctive octagonal tower was built in 1782 to replace the more conventional square section one. The building of the present nave commenced in 1848 and it was dedicated on 14th March, 1850; it cost £3,000 and seated 1400 people. In 1884 the chancel was restored, joined to the nave and dedicated in 1888.

These bells replaced a single bell in 1960 at a cost of £2,500, and are very nice indeed.  The metal frame is of mainly lowside construction, with the outside bearings of the 3rd and 4th mounted on cast iron pedestals due to the size and shape of the tower. The dedication was reported in The Ringing World of >July 21st 1961:

St. Mary’s Parish Church, Atherstone, Warwickshire, now has in place of its single bell a light but musical ring of eight bells, the tenor being 8¼ cwt. The dedication of the bells and also a new electric clock, with quarter and hour chime, was carried out on June 24th by the Ven. L. J. Stanford, Archdeacon of Coventry. The service was conducted by the Vicar. Rev. A. W. Dodds, and the lesson was read by the president of the Coventry Diocesan Guild. Mr. F. W. Perrens. Rounds during the dedication service were rung by officers and mem bers of the Guild.
Follow ing the act of dedication the Archdeacon, in his address, congratulated the Vicar and churchwardens on adding such valuable equipment to the ancient Church of St. Mary.
After the service the bells were rung by members of the St. Mary’s band of ringers, most of whom had been taught to handle a bell since these had been installed by Messrs. John Taylor, of Loughborough, and they performed very creditably.
Members of the congregation and the ringers present were entertained to tea in the Town Hall by the Vicar and churchwardens. Afterwards the bells were open to visitors, many of whom were from the St. Martin’s Guild. Birmingham, the Leicester Guild, the Staffords and the Coventry Guild. Methods ranged from rounds to Spliced Surprise. The general opinion was that the county has gained a very fine ring of eight.
The listed old bell - by John de Stafford c.1360, diamater of 45.75" and weighing about 16cwt in E (648.0Hz)- is preserved in the church. Its canons were removed and it was drilled through the crown in 1901 when Taylors provided new ringing fittings."

The first peal on the bells was rung shortly afterwards:

While there have been 22 peals rung on these bells, there have been none since 1986, due to concerns regarding the noise level in the Market Place.

The way up to the bells is quite well hidden.  It is half way down the church through an archway on the far left level with the chancel, sort of round the corner - see photograph below. Be careful to remove The clock hammer. The pull off is at the bottom of the blue clock casing in the window with only a small painted notice telling you to to pull it off to show where it is.

Unfortunately, due to the proximity of houses, etc. the bells are unavailable for peals. Requests for visits should be made allowing for some flexibility in timing.

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  2-3-15  22.50"   1766.0Hz (A+6c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  3-1-00  23.50"   1677.0Hz (G#-16c)
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  3-1-13  24.50"   1479.0Hz (F#-1c)
4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  3-1-26  25.50"   1315.5Hz (E-4c)
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  4-1-00  27.625"  1169.0Hz (D-8c)
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  4-3-25  29.125"  1102.0Hz (C#-11c)
7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  6-0-10  31.625"   978.5Hz (B-16c)
8 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1960  8-1-06  35.50"    871.0Hz (A-18c) 

Photo Gallery

atherstone_west_small atherstone_chancel_small
The Church, looking west The Chancel
atherstone_east_small atherstone_old_bell_small
The church, looking east The old bell.
Lowering the bells at the end of at District Practice

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