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LITTLE COMPTON St Denys 5, 6-2-6 in Bb (GF)

Grid Reference 151/261303 Little Compton Church - Source: Mike Chester
Postcode GL56 0SA
Affiliation Oxford DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday None
Practice None


This parish was originally in a detached portion of Gloucestershire until it was transferred to Warwickshire in 1844. It still lies within the Diocese of Oxford, though Tilley and Walters state that at the time of publication of their "Church Bells of Warwickshire" the church was in the Diocese of Gloucester. The tower is one that is "different" in that it has a saddleback roof.

The recorded history of Little Compton begins in the 11th century, but it is likely that the village had already existed for three or four centuries by this time. Centuries ago the village was known as Compton in Floribus (Compton in the Flowers.) The Church, with the Manor adjacent to it, belonged to the Priory at nearby Deerhurst re-founded in 1056 by King Edward the Confessor, an offshoot of the great Abbey of St Denys in Paris where French Kings are buried. In 1467 Deerhurst priory was suppressed and its property given to Tewkesbury Abbey, which was itself dissolved by King Henry V111 in 1539. The patronage of the living was handed to the newly founded Cathedral of Christ Church in Oxford. In 1541 the Diocese of Gloucester received the Church from the Diocese of Worcester and in 1919 the Parish of Little Compton (as it was then) became part of the Diocese of Oxford

The present building has 12th century origins and the saddleback tower built in the 14th Century is of particular interest. However, during 1863/64 extensive re-building took place, forming a new chancel and nave, under the supervision of the then Rector, the Revd. William H Marah. During the Civil War, which ended in 1648, the deposed Bishop of London, William Juxon lived in his family home, the Manor, next to the Church. When, during the Civil War, the King was executed, Bishop Juxon, who had also been Lord Treasurer of England, was the priest who accompanied him to the scaffold. The scenes of the execution are now represented in a beautiful stained glass window in the Lady Chapel of the Church. The Bible used by Bishop Juxon at the execution is on display at nearby Chastleton House, now owned by the National Trust. After the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Juxon was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, by Charles II. He died in 1663 and is buried in St John’s College, Oxford.

A complete ring of five of 1720 by Abraham Rudhall II, the treble of which was recast in 1810 (by John Rudhall, at a cost of £19/1/1 plus 18/- to William hunt for hanging it) and again in 1899 by Bond of Burford, at which time they rehung the bells in a new framework of steel girders and with new fittings. The treble was cast without canons and those of the other bells were removed.

The inscriptions are given in Rev H.T. Ellacombe's "Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (1881):

The treble was recast by Bond subsequent to the publication of the book. It is now inscribed: "H BOND & SONS BURFORD OXON 1899"

The bells were rehung on ball bearings in 1970. The following appeal appeared in The Ringing World of October 14th 1988:

 (Click to enlarge)

The bells were removed for restoration in 1990 and sent to Whitechapel where they were retuned. However the cost of associated structural repairs to the tower delayed completion and the job was not finished until 1999. The treble was quarter turned and the rest one-eighth turned. They hang in a cast iron frame for six manufactured by Whites of Appleton. This was briefly reported in The Ringing World of January 14th 2000: "Little Compton, Warks. St Denys Although the village is in Warwickshire, it comes under the Oxford Diocese. The work to rehang this ring of five bells started about ten years ago but it was then found that the tower needed a great deal of work, so the bells were stored. With the approach of the Millennium it was decided to complete the project and the bells were rehung in a new six bell cast iron frame by Whites of Appleton. It is hoped that a new treble can be added in the not too distant future. The rededication was performed by the Bishop of Dorchester on 5th December 1999, the rounds during the Service being rung by locally-recruited ringers"

There has been some hope that a treble may be added to complete the six at some point, though nothing has been heard of about this for a while.

The first, and, so far, only peal on the bells was rung in 2016

St Blaise Society
Little Compton, Warwickshire, St Denys
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 in 2h 31 (6–2–6)
5040 Doubles
11M. 2 extents Grandsire; 4 extents each St Nicholas, Winchendon Place, St Remigius, Huntley Place,
St Simon's, St Martin's, St Osmund, Eynesbury, Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Pl., Plain Bob
1 Nicola J Turner
2 Susan E Marshall
3 Colin M Turner
4 Michael Chester
5 Robert J Crocker (C)
First peal on the bells

There is some parking by the church wall - enter via the door to the left of the tower in the picture.

Details of the Bells

1 H. Bond & Sons, Burford         1899  3-1-24  25.50"  1398.0Hz (F+1c)
2 Abraham Rudhall II, Gloucester  1720  3-3-19  27.00"  1244.5Hz (Eb+0)
3 Abraham Rudhall II, Gloucester  1720  4-1-07  28.00"  1175.0Hz (D+1c)
4 Abraham Rudhall II, Gloucester  1720  5-0-11  30.25"  1046.7Hz (C+0c)
5 Abraham Rudhall II, Gloucester  1720  6-2-06  33.75"   932.3Hz (Bb+0c)

Photo Gallery

The Church - Looking East. Source: Mike Chester The Chancel. Source: Mike Cox The Church - Looking West. Source: Rex Harris
The Church - Looking East The Chancel The Church - Looking West

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