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HONILEY St John the Baptist 6, 6-2-4 in A

Grid Reference 139/245722 Honiley Church - Source M Chester
Postcode CV8 1PW
Affilation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday None
Practice None
Other Information Please do not park on the road that goes up to the church
or by the houses by the church gate.


A small estate church, St John's stands all but by itself at the end of a lane. The church  was built in 1723. The inscription on the west tower reads: ad gloriam dei iohannes sanders: arm: propriis sumptibus hanc ecclesiam aedificavit anno salutis: mdccxxiii It was built at the expense of John Sanders Esq of Honiley Hall. He died in 1727 and left money in his will to pay for the installation of a ring of bells, this being done in 1731.

The bells are a ring of 6, augmented from 5 in 1978. Barwells rehung the bells with new fittings in 1888 at a cost of £41 15s 0d. A report of an outing published in The Ringing World of March 18th 1955 noted:

Honiley, near Warwick, has a somewhat peculiar looking tower containing a poor-going five of fair tone (tenor 8 cwt. in A). An order for rehanging is shortly to be placed—not before time. The front four are hung on one level with the tenor above in the centre, at the bottom of the spire.

The five bells were rehung and quarter turned, this time with a new H-frame and fittings, by Taylors in 1955. The Re-Dedication of the bells was reported in The Ringing World of March 2nd 1956:

There is no village of Honiley, the parish being a sparsely populated rural area between Kenilworth and Knowle. Lying well in the wooded Warwickshire countryside, its peace is often disturbed nowadays by the noise of jet planes. In the parish is the R.A.F. station (Headquarters of No. 605 County of Warwick Squadron) recently visited by H.R.H. Princess Margaret.
Another, sweeter sound was heard on Sunday, February 5th, when the five 18th century bells rang at their rededication by the Rt. Rev. Newnham Davis, acting Bishop of Coventry. They have been repaired and put in a new frame by Messrs. John Taylor and Co., of Loughborough.
Bequeathed by John Sanders, an 18th century squire, the bells form a light ring of five in the key of A natural, the tenor weighing an estimated 7 cwt. Inscriptions are identical on all five bells, viz.: ‘ Iohannes Sanders arm : Hujus Eccl: Fundat me pie vovit Anno Dom : qui obit 1727,’ and underneath: ‘ Fudit T. Eayre Kettering 1731.’
Of tiny dimensions, the church is a classical gem, treated with much architectural circumstance. It has a short spire surmounting a large tower, the lower portion of which serves as the porch. Above this is the ringing chamber, which is lit by a circular (bull’s-eye) window. Inside, the church has Corinthian pillars supporting the west end gallery and Corinthian pilasters in the apse. Each of the pews has its own door.
Local folk believe the church to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren himself, who lived at Wroxall Abbey, a few fields away. He was not resident there very long, but certain walls there are attributed to him. There is a very lovely story concerning the way in which Sir Christopher was invited to design the church whilst at a dinner party in Honiley. Immediately, he used a tablecloth and drew sketches approved, doubtless, by John Sanders who financed its building.
The Rev. A. W. Dodds, Rector of Honiley, has been instrumental in raising funds for the restoration. In his address, the Bishop praised the zeal with which parishioners' also tackled the job of raising so much, which they did in a remarkably short period. He warned the Rector that bellringers are never quite satisfied, and soon he would be requested, no doubt, to have a sixth bell added. Rumour has it that a little bird overheard a belfry conversation prior to the service and related it to the Bishop!
Representing the bellfounders was Mr. Paul Taylor, who presented the ropes to the Bishop for dedication. The first touch on the repaired bells was accomplished by friends from the towers of Knowle, Harbury and Southam. Pitman’s 240 Grandsire Doubles was called, appropriately, by Mr. A. Charles Morris, the local captain, the ringers being A. Charles Morris (conductor) 1, Thomas Gwilt (Knowle) 2, Anthony A. Upton (Knowle) 3, George Aidhouse (Harbury) 4, Harry Windsor (Southam) 5.
Mr. Morris is how faced with the task of building up a completely new team of ringers. Before the war, Honiley boasted a good average village band, and our good wishes go out to Mr. Morris in his undertaking. A. A. U."

The first peal after rehanging, and indeed on the bells, was rung shortly afterwards:

The treble was cast in 1978 using metal from the single bell from the demolished church of St. Thomas's, Coventry. Taylors provided additional steel framework for the new bell which hangs above the others. The treble was cast flat and the canons were removed from the others during the 1955 rehanging.

The inscriptions of the back 5 are given in Tilley and Walters' book, "Church Bells of Warwickshire"

There is a letter from Duncan Lund that was published in The Ringing World of December 9th 1977 that shows that the augmentation project had started to bear fruit:

 (click to enlarge)

The treble is incribed:

(Taylors mark)

The first peal on the six was not rung until 1984:

Turn off the main road by the Dogs Trust Kennels and the Honiley Court Hotel and as the road bears right the church is to the left up a private road. The residents have requested that cars do not park on this road or by the houses near the church gate.  They are very amenable to ringing at this church and you are asked to respect this request

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1978  3-1-13  24.50"   1516.0Hz (F#-42c)
2 Thomas Eayre, I Kettering       1731  4-1-02  27.00"   1353.5Hz (E+45c)
3 Thomas Eayre, I Kettering       1731  4-1-16  28.375"  1205.0Hz (D+44c)
4 Thomas Eayre, I Kettering       1731  4-1-14  28.75"   1134.5Hz (C#+40c)
5 Thomas Eayre, I Kettering       1731  5-1-26  31.375"  1006.5Hz (B+33c)
6 Thomas Eayre, I Kettering       1731  6-2-04  33.75"    895.0Hz (A+29c)

Photo Gallery

The Apse. Source: Aidan MacRae Thomson The West End. Source: Aidan MacRae Thomson
The Apse The West End

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