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CASTLE BROMWICH* SS Mary & Margaret 8, 10-3-14 in Ab

Grid Reference 139/142899 Castle Bromwich Church - Source Virtual Brum
Postcode B36 9BT
Recording of the 6
Recording of the 8 
Affiliation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0930-1000
Practice Wednesday 1930-2100
Other Information Bellringers' Website


The village was, until 1894, a hamlet in the large parish of Aston. Castle Bromwich has had historic ties with both Erdington and Water Orton through administration, governance and land ownership whilst being part of the Parish. The Local Government Act 1894 created a parish of Castle Bromwich from part of the Aston parish not in either Birmingham or Aston Manor Urban District. It was part of the Castle Bromwich Rural District from 1894 until 1912, when it became part of the Meriden Rural District. When the Local Government Act of 1972 came into force in 1974 it became part of Solihull.

Originally a chapelry in the parish of Aston, (until 1878) a ring of five (tenor 7-1-4) cast by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston was installed in 1717. These bells were transferred to the new tower when the church was remodelled between 1726 and 1731. The current church consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, and a west tower. The whole structure was rebuilt in red brick from 1726 to 1731. The church was restored by Mr. C. E. Bateman, who discovered that the roof was more ancient than the walls and has timbers of great size, supported by oak pillars, 18–20 in. square and 23 ft. high, now encased in plaster, suggesting a former church of timber-framing.

There is evidence in the Churchwardens' Accounts (now in Warwick County Record Office) of the payment for the new bells in 1717. "Payd Joseph Smith for casting the bells £12 16s. 0d. " Whether there were inscriptions on the three older bells is not known. The inscriptions on the 1717 bells were:

Treble Iohn Thornton: Thomas Sadler: Trustees 1717
Second Iohn Banner: Roland Brawbridge: Trustees 1717
Third  William Sadler: Isaac Sadler: 1717
Fourth Iohannes Brooke: S:T:B: Iohn Chattock: Chappell Warden 1717
Tenor  Sir John Bridgeman: Baronet 1717

Edmund Denison Taylor of Taylor’s bell foundry, Loughborough inspected the tower in 1893 and found that the five 1717 bells were hung in a frame for six. He believed the frame to be “much older than the church and very badly decayed & rickety”. The best explanation is that the frame was brought from the medieval church and installed in the new brick tower when it was built in 1724. Unusually, this was an anti-clockwise ring. Taylors did not actualy win the contract as the bells were augmented to six in 1893 by Charles Carr of Smethwick to celebrate the marriage of the future George V. They added a tenor (8-2-0), replaced the third with a bell a semitone lower and rehung the bells in a new composite frame. The tenor was inscribed "Laus Deo".  The old bell was reused as a clock bell at the Derby British Rail works, where it still remains.

The re-opening of the bells on December 21st 1893 was reported in Bell News in the edition of January 13th 1894:

The inscriptions, as given by Tilley and Walters in their book, "The Church Bells of Warwickshire", at this point were:

A report of a St Martin's Guild meeting here in the edition of July 30th 1915 is not complimentary - "While there are one or two very fair bells among them, the tenor is hopelessly flat, and makes ringing here a very miserable affair." 

The first peal on the bells was rung in 1925:

In 1936 Taylor’s were asked to examine the bells, which were clearly felt to be unsatisfactory. Their report recommended that work needed to be done to the fixtures and fittings, but more crucially that Carr’s 1893 bells should be recast because of their ‘poor tonal quality’. Taylor’s representative, although ‘unwilling to be critical of another bell maker’, found that the lips of the bells had been pared away to achieve the correct note, producing a ‘distressing musical effect’. The 1717 bells had been chipped away inside and ‘irretrievably ruined owing to unskilful tuning’. When the Rector, Rev Henry Forbes published the report in the parish magazine, it came to the attention of Carr’s, who were understandably furious and a bad-tempered exchange of letters took place between themselves and Taylor’s.

The whole ring was recast by Gillett & Johnson in 1952. The bells were hung in the strengthened 1893 composite frame; many of the old fittings were also reused. Additional framework above the existing frame, "lowsided" frame castings on steel girders, was provided for two further bells, but this was never used. The dedication was reported in The Ringing World of December 12th 1952:

The first peal on the new ring of 6 was not rung until 1965:

The bells were removed from the tower in March 2017. They were rehung in a new frame single level castiron and steel frame, truss 8.3.A.h and layout 8.3, and to augmented to 8 by Taylors. The new trebles were cast to G&J profiles at Taylors on 21st September 2016 and the installation was completed in August 2017.

The Inscriptions on the two new trebles are

Other Side

 The first peal on the ring of 8 was rung in September of 2017.  The details are:

St Martin's Guild
Castle Bromwich, West Midlands, SS Mary and Margaret
Saturday, 9 September 2017 in 2h 59 (10–3–14 in A♭)
5090 Cambridge Surprise Major
Composed by BD Price
1 Paul E Bibilo
2 Mathew Williams
3 Catherine R Taylor
4 Stuart CW Hutchieson
5 James M Stanton
6 Andrew J Ellis
7 James P Ramsbottom (C)
8 Gordon R Birks
Rung to welcome Mark Hopkins as new Rector of the parish
First peal on the restored and augmented ring
First Peal: 2

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  2016   4-1-09  35.55"  1632.9Hz  (Ab-30c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  2016   4-1-11  26.00"  1528.7Hz  (G-44c)
3 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon     1952   4-1-14  27.00"  1359.2Hz  (F-47c)
4 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon     1952   4-2-16  28.25"  1223.3Hz  (E-30c)
5 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon     1952   5-0-00  29.50"  1087.3Hz  (Db-34c)
6 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon     1952   5-3-12  31.125" 1019.4Hz  (C-45c)
7 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon     1952   7-2-16  34.00"   917.4Hz  (Bb-28c)
8 Gillett & Johnston, Croydon     1952  10-3-14  38.375"  815.5Hz  (Ab-32c)

Detials of the Ring of 5 Bells

1 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   3-3-03  26.625"
2 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   3-3-09  27.31"
3 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   4-2-00  28.25"
4 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   5-1-00  30.875"
5 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   7-1-4   34.875"

Details of the Ring of 6 Bells  

1 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   3-3-03  26.625"
2 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   3-3-09  27.31"
3 Charles Carr, Smethwick       1893   3-2-18  29.25"
4 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   4-2-00  28.25"
5 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston       1717   7-1-04  34.875"
6 Charles Carr, Smethwick       1893   8-2-00  39.75"

Photo Gallery

The Bells at G&J 1952:  Source: Church Bells website The Ringers 1952:  Source: Church Bells website
The bells at the G & J Foundry in 1952 The ringers in 1952 
castle_bromwich_old_third_small castle_bromwich_4th_small
The Smith Third in its
"new" home in Derby,
plus a recording of it chiming.
The Fourth
The Bells at Taylors:  Source: Taylors The Tenor:  Source: Taylors
The Bells at Taylors, 2017 The Tenor at Taylors, 2017.
The New Trebles:  Source: Taylors  
The New Trebles  

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