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HARBORNE* St Peter 8, 12-3-24 in F#

Grid Reference 139/028839 Harborne Church - Source M Chester
Postcode B20 2RW
Affiliation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 1745-1830
Practice Monday 1930-2100


It is believed that there has been a church on this site, since Saxon times and St Chad is thought to have preached here. The base of a preaching cross was found in the middle 1980s during work at the back of the church and is now in the Church Hall garden. The present building, Grade 2 listed, is Victorian, the sanctuary was rebuilt during l974/5 after a fire. The tower is the oldest part, dating from the 14th century. The west door, ringing chamber and clock, are not in line. It is thought that the tower was built over a period of 200 years and when the Black Death of 1348 killed many of the craftsmen of Harborne, the tower was finished by unskilled workmen.

This church moved geographically from Staffordshire to Warwickshire when Harborne was absorbed by Birmingham in 1891. It has therefore never been administered from Warwick; Birmingham becoming a County Borough in 1889. It is a mediaeval church in foundation, but was almost completely rebuilt in the 1860s. The tower is the only old part of the church to remain.

There were "iij belles" in the tower in 1553. A ring of 6 was cast for the church in 1691 by William Bagley of Chacombe. The second was recast in 1799 by Thomas Mears I of London. In 1877 Warners of Cripplegate rehung the bells and augmented them to 8. The bells were not highly regarded by some, William Saunders noted in 1891 that, "...the ring is in perfect tune but does not contain one good bell. All are too thin and low toned for their weight". Nevertheless there were some that wished the old ring to be retained, without success.  The first peal on the bells, Stedman Triples was rung on February 24th 1877.

Charles Lynam, in his book "The Church Bells of the County of Stafford" (1889) gives the inscriptions at this time:

There was a series of articles about rings of bells published in "Bell News" and this is what is said about Harbourne in the edition of June 21st 1902:

"St. Peter (Harborne). Birmingham Amalgamated Society. Eight bells. Treble and 2nd by Warner, 1877; 4th by Mears, 1799; the rest by Bagley, 1691. Tenor 12 cwt., diameter 3 ft. 2 in. Timber frame. Bells go well. General repairs by Barwell, also refitting of ringing chamber, 1897. Ropes good. Method: Grandsire. Sunday ringing 10 to 11, and occasionally for evening service. Practice; Monday, 8, irregular."

For some reason, possibly as things were recorded by society, they reported on them again in the edition of February 14th 1903:

"Harborne (Staffordshire). St. Peter. Society for the Archdeaconry of Stafford. Eight bells. The two trebles by Warner, 1877; 4th by Mears, 1799; the rest by Bagley, 1691. Tenor 12 cwt., diameter 3 ft. 2 in. Timber frame. Bells go well. The ring were rehung by Barwell, 1898. Ropes new 1895, good. Method: Grandsire. Sunday ringing : 10 to 11 , sometimes also at 6. Practice: Saturday : 7.30."

The bells were rehung in 1924 by James Groes, the following appearing in The Ringing World on December 19th:

After having been silent for five months, the bells at Harborne, which are among the oldest in the county of Staffs, were reopened on Sunday, December 7th. During the interval the tower has been repaired (inside), and the bells rehung on ball bearings by Mr. James E. Groves, of Handsworth. Several ringers fro m neighbouring towers were present at the opening, and all expressed their satisfaction with the ' go ’ and tone. It may be of interest to give the dates of the bells : Treble, 1877, by J . Warner and Son ; 2nd, 1877. by J . Warner and Son ; 3rd, 1691. by William Bagley ; 4 th  1799. by Thomas Mears; 5th, 1691. by William Bagley : 6th, 1691, by William Bagley ; 7th, 1691, by Wiliam Bagley ; tenor, 1691, by William Bagley. The local band at present are only able to ring Grandsire Doubles, but under the able tuition of Mr. S. Grove, who has kindly undertaken the office of Ringing Master, they hope soon to be able to accomplish Triples.

There is a fine Taylor ring in the tower today. The bells were transferred from Bishop Ryder's Church, Gem Street, Birmingham (q.v.) in 1962/3. A new metal frame was installed as the old wooden frame from Ryder was not suitable for this tower. The fittings date from the time of the casting of the bells, which were quarter turned when they were transferred. The Bagley tenor from the previous ring was installed in a separate frame above the ring for chiming as a service bell. The first peal on the bells in their new home was rung in July of 1963:


(Most of the above information is quoted directly (with permission) from the research notes of Chris Pickford)

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1923   3-1-11  24.75"   1484.0Hz (F#+5c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1923   3-2-10  25.375"  1399.0Hz (Ex+3c)
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1923   4-0-07  27.125"  1246.0Hz (D#+2c)
4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1923   4-1-04  28.375"  1112.0Hz (C#+5c)
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1923   5-2-17  31.125"   990.0Hz (B+4c)
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1923   6-2-18  32.875"   930.0Hz (A#-4c)
7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1923   8-3-22  36.50"    832.5Hz (G#+4c)
8 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1923  12-3-24  40.875"   742.0Hz (F#+5c)


All are inscribed "WILLIAM BLEWS AND SONS, BIRMINGHAM, 1868" and have the Taylor's mark and "RECAST 1923" on their waists, the tenor on the opposite side to the main inscription, plus

* * *

Details of the Previous Bells

1 John Warner & Sons, Cripplegate 1877   3-3-07  25.50"   1578.0Hz (G+11c)
2 John Warner & Sons, Cripplegate 1877   3-3-17  26.125"  1492.0Hz (F#+14c)
3 William Bagley, Chacombe        1691   4-0-26  27.125"  1301.0Hz (E-23c)
4 Thomas Mears I, London          1799   4-1-24  28.50"   1170.0Hz (D-7c)
5 William Bagley, Chacombe        1691   4-3-20  30.25"   1035.0Hz (C-19c)
6 William Bagley, Chacombe        1691   5-2-01  32.25"    984.0Hz (B-7c)
7 William Bagley, Chacombe        1691   6-3-02  34.25"    873.0Hz (A-14c)
8 William Bagley, Chacombe        1691   9-1-00  38.25"    778.0Hz (G-13c)
(Scrapping weights )

Photo Gallery

Harborne - Looking East. Source: Tudor Barlow Harborne - Looking West. Source: Tudor Barlow The Church in the 1920s
The Church - Looking East The Church - Looking West The Interior in the 1920s

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