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BILTON St Mark 6: 9-0-25 in G#

Grid Reference 140/487739 Bilton Church - Source: David Kelly
Postcode CV22 7RN
Old Ring             New Ring
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0915-1000
Practice Monday 1930-2100


On the south edge of Rugby, Bilton remains a village in its own right and its church spire is prominent from some distance. The chancel, nave, and west tower are of the mid-14th century; the south porch was added in the early 19th century, possibly in 1821 when the then east window was altered; the north aisle was added at the general restoration in 1873 by G. F. Bodley.

This article appeared in "Bell News" of 18th October 1884 that records the restoration of the then ring of 5 and the moving of the ringers to the ground floor:

Two miles south-west of Rugby lies the village of Bilton. Its church is one of the best examples in the neighbourhood of the Decorated style of architecture, having a western tower and spire, and with its surroudings, is kept in perfect order. To the antiquarian lover of bells, it is more than usually interesting, three out of the five bells being pre-Reformation. These three, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, of the present ring, all come from a foundry, whose stamps are well known in many parts of the country, but which until lately has not been identified with any name or date. Through the researches, however, of the late Mr. Thomas North, it now seems clear that one founder who used this set of stamps was Henry Jordan, of London, who in 1466 cast the great bell for King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. In the absence of all other evidence, this gives some clue to the date of the Bilton bells. Of the other two bells, the treble is interesting locally, from having been given by the wife of Addison, who lived at Bilton Hall, a fine old Elizabethan house close to the church. The inscriptions on the bells are as follows:

Treble.— “ The gift of the honourable Countess of Warwick, 1732."
2.— “ Sancta Katerina Ora pro Nobis.”
3.— “ Vox Augustini sonet in Aure Dei."
4.— “ Ora Pro Nobis Beafa Katerina.”
Tenor.— “ Henry Bagley made mee 1662. (about 9 cwt).

Some months ago, a crack appeared in the western face of the tower, and immediate steps had to be taken to repair it. Since the bells were out of tune, and their fittings needed repairs, it was thought a good opportunity for doing all that was required in the interior of the tower. The work was given to Messrs. Taylor, of Loughborough, who took all the bells to the foundry to be tuned and quartered, and have since rehung them with new wheels, stocks, etc., the old frame alone being used again. The re-opening of the bells took place on Sunday, October 5th, when special reference was made to them in the services. On the evening of Tuesday, October 7th, a party of ringers from Rugby visited Billon, and with the kind permission of the rector, the Rev. R. O. Assheton, rang the first complete 120 of Grandsire Doubles on the rehung bells, standing as follows: B . Voss, 1; J. Hardy, 2; J. Cooke (conductor), 3; J. Coales, 4; H. J. Elsee, 5. Several more 120’s were rung in the course of the evening, in which J. Coleman of Rugby, and — Tarver, of Bilton and St. Philip’s, Birmingham, took part, the ringers standing in various orders, and the touches called by J. Cooke and H . J. Elsee. The visitors expressed themselves very much pleased with the go of the bells, and all about them ; it would indeed be hard to find a peal of five which swing more easily, and the "bells are decidedly the better in tune than they were before. The ringers have been brought down from the tower to the floor of the church, and are now separated from the church by a screen, while the inconvenience arising from the length of loose rope, has been remedied by suitable sally stays.

Therefore, until recently, the bells were a mixture of 5 old bells with a modern treble.  This bell, along with a new cast iron lowside frame and fittings, was provided by Taylors during 1948.  There were wooden headstocks on the back five bells. Notice that the 5th was heavier than the tenor.

The Sanders bell was given by the Countess of Warwick (d.1731), wife of the 6th Earl of Warwick (d.1701) who had married subsequently Joseph Addison (of the Spectator).

There was a front page article about Bilton in The Ringing World of March 24th 1950:

click to enlarge)

This obviously did not go down well with everyone, as this appeared in The Ringing World of May 5th, reporting what was said at the Guild AGM!:

"A member of St. Andrew’s, Rugby, band referred to ‘ The Ringing World ’ leader of March 24th last, when portions of a letter sent by Mr. H. R. Leach, of Bilton, near Rugby, were published complaining that the band there was only ringing plain courses through lack of instruction. ' Unquestionably it is one of the primary functions of guilds to provide instructors,’ quoted ‘ The Ringing World.’
The nearest band to Bilton was that of Rugby, St. Andrew’s, and they had visited Bilton, giving up their own practice to do so, but were made to feel unwelcome and had, therefore, not proffered their services as instructors again.
Mr. Leach refuted this, and to prevent further argument Mr. F. E. Pervin (Coventry and Rugby District secretary) said he would hold a district meeting there in June and endeavour to smooth out any difficulties."

The band obviously did mad=ke good progress, as this appeared in The Ringing World of June 19th 1953:

"A great achievement was the peal of Grandsire Doubles at Bilton, Warwickshire, which was the first peal by all the band and, as far as local records show, the first peal on the bells. Since March this Sunday service band have been ringing quarter peals most Sundays in preparation for the occasion and their success must give them immense satisfaction."

The church was featured on the front page of The Ringing World of April 10th 1970 and the article on the next page gives details of the bells as they then were.

The ringing chamber was moved up from the ground floor in 1986.

In January 2008 the bells were removed to Taylors who replaced the tenor with a more suitable bell more than 2cwt heavier than the existing one.  At the same time the front three bells were retuned and the wooden headstocks on bells 2-5 were replaced by modern canon retaining headstocks. The new tenor was cast with a flat top. The difference in the weights of bells 4 and 5 are due to the removal of the cast-in iron crown staples. The scheme was completed in time for the Easter celebrations. The work was reported in The Ringing World of Ap[ril 22nd 2008:

"Bilton, Warwickahire, St Mark 6, 9-0-25 in G sharp This light ring of six has recently undergone restoration. The tenor bell, which was two pounds lighter than the fifth bell, and of very poor tone was removed from the tower and recast with additional metal to bring it up to the required specification and then tuned to match the other five bells which also underwent some corrective tuning. The fittings of the 1952 Taylor treble bell were re-used, after refurbishment, and new fittings were provided to the other five bells before they were re-hung in the existing frame."

As noted, the bells had been retuned, quarter turned and rehung with new fittings in the old frame in 1884. Further retuning was not allowed as part of the 1948 scheme.  The inscriptions of the 5 bells at that time are given above. The new treble, which was also cast with a flat top and has not been turned, is a war memorial bell and it is inscribed:

DURING THE 1939 - 1945 WAR

On the waist - Taylors trademark / 1948

The new tenor is inscribed:

Around shoulder -  facsimile copy from old tenor


(On waist)


(On reverse side waist above soundbow)

Founders mark

The entrance is from inside the church and there is a large car park close by on the North side of the church.

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor, Co, Loughborough               1948  3-3-09  26.00"   1374.0Hz (E#-29c)
2 Richard Sanders, Bromsgrove                 1722  4-0-17  27.625"  1223.0Hz (D#-30c)
3 John Sturdy or John Keble London           c1450  4-0-22  28.50"   1085.0Hz (C#-37c)
4 John Danyell, London                       c1460  5-0-02  30.50"   1025.0Hz (B#-36c)
5 John Danyell, London                       c1460  7-0-12  33.75"    917.0Hz (A#-29c)
6 Taylors, Eayre & Smith, Ltd, Loughborough   2008  9-0-25  37.25"    816.5Hz (G#-30c)

Details of the Previous Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough              1948  3-3-16  26.00"   1395.0Hz (E#-2c)
2 Richard Sanders, Bromsgrove                 1722  4-1-06  27.625"  1252.0Hz (D#-10c)
3 John Sturdy or John Keble London           c1450  4-1-07  28.50"   1110.0Hz (C#+2c)
4 John Danyell, London                       c1460  5-0-13  30.50"   1025.0Hz (B#-36c)
5 John Danyell, London                       c1460  7-0-14  33.75"    917.0Hz (A#-29c)
6 Henry Bagley I, Chacombe                    1662  7-0-12  35.50"    828.0Hz (G#-5c)

Photo Gallery

bilton_west_small bilton_east_small bilton_organ_small
The Church - Looking West The Church - Looking East Advice for the Organist!
bilton2_small bilton3_small 
Removing the Bells Casting the Tenor  
bilton_tenor_small bilton4_small bilton5_small
The Tenor in
the Foundry 
The Tenor in
the Church
Katie Hoisting the
Tenor Through the
Ringing Room
bilton6_small bilton7_small  
Hanging the Tenor  The Tenor in Place   

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