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NAPTON ON THE HILL St Lawrence 6, 11-0-11 in F (GF)

Grid Reference 151/463612 Napton Church - Source M Chester
Postcode CV45 8NW
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday Sunday 1000-1030 (1st-3rd: 4th at Stockton)
Practice Tuesday 1930-2100


Unsurprisingly, given the name, this church is on the top of a Napton Hill, but can be missed - look for the signpost pointing up a small road to the church. There is a fairly easy going ground floor six with an outside tower entrance on the south side.

The name Napton means by derivation the village on the hill top, from Anglo-Saxon “cnaepp”, a hill top, and tun, a homestead or village; it is Neptone in the Domesday Book. The church  is a Grade II* listed building and stands in the middle of a small churchyard to the north of the village. A local legend says that the church was to have been built where the present village green is located. However, the stones which lay there ready for building were found to have been taken overnight to the top of the hill, and as a consequence the builders decided to erect the church where the Spirits had dictated.

The church was originally built in the later part of the 12th or early 13th C and probably consisted of chancel, north and south transepts, nave and west tower. Changes and additions have been incorporated since that time, with the present nave arcades together with the north and south aisles being added in the 14th C, while the south door structure dates from the late 12th C and was probably moved from the original nave when the aisles were built. The porch appears to have been built during the 16th C, while the stone shafts and tracery in the two porch windows is made up from early 13th C stonework. These windows were blocked up some centuries later. The seats on either side of the porch, are made at different levels for adults and children.

The unusual Vestry Door is a mystery and probably replaced the original outside door when the vestry was built in the mid 19th C. It has been suggested that the small hatch and iron grille incorporated into the main door enabled the vestry to be used as a confessional, but it may merely have been used for ventilation purposes. It would however, also permit anyone in the vestry to keep the church under observation. It is certainly an interesting and unusual feature. The two stone altars situated in the north and south transepts are of the late 13th C and after being buried at the Reformation when stone altars were banned, they were uncovered in the 1950’s and 60’s following floor restoration in the transepts. They have since been placed in their current positions.

Frame is a steel lowside frame for 6 by Mears and Stainbank, 1958, at which time the existing 5 bells wer rehing on fabricated steel headstocks. The treble was added into the empty pit on a cast iron headstock in 1963. The following appeared in The Ringing World of July 26th 1963, "A treble bell is to be added to the five at Napton-on-the-Hill, Warwickshire, by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank. The bell is the gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Roberts, of Paignton, who was formerly a school teacher at Napton. Although 88, she is looking forward to making the 200 mile journey to be present at the dedication in August, by the Archdeacon of Warwick."

All five older bells have been quarter turned, except the fourth which was turned again (and weighed) in 2002 to become eighth turned. The treble was cast with a flat top. The exact weight of the tenor has been discovered by Chris Pickford from the 1874  invoice. The weight has not changed subsequently.  The inscriptions of the ring of 5 can be foound in Tilley and Walters' book,"The Church Bells of Warwickshire":

At some point in the past, the local ringers do not know when or why, the arch in the east wall of the tower was bricked up, meaning that there is no direct access any more from the church to the ground floor ringing room. One wonders if it was to keep the parishioners in or the ringers out!

The tower was featured in The Ringing World of August 8th 1980:

(Click to enlarge)

The fourth bell cracked in 2002 and was welded by Soundweld and rehung on a new canon retaining headstock by Eayre & Smith. The tenor has "Doncaster" canons and the other old bells retain their canons. This was reported in the "Foundry Focus" article published on June 13th 2003:

"Napton on the Hill, (Leicestershire) In September 2002, bell no. 4, cast in 1731 by Thomas Russell of Wootton, was found to be cracked in its crown. There were two cracks extending about 14 inches (356 mm) either side of the crown staple centre bolt. Close inspection showed that the crack started from the roots of the cast-in crown staple, where there was also porosity in the bell metal. The bell was removed from the tower and, after removing the remains of the cast-in crown staple, it was repaired by Soundweld. The bell was rehung on a new cannon-retaining headstock in time for the six bells to be rung for Christmas."

The first peal on the bells was rung on the then ring of 5 in 1962:

There is room for a few cars by the churchyard gate.

On one approach road to the village there is a fierce hump-backed bridge over the canal - drive slowly! It is vicious enough to be used to test Land Rover Vehicles.

Details of the Bells

1 Mears & Stainbank,          1963   3-3-09  27.625"  1172.0Hz (D-4c)
2 Thomas Russell, Wootton     1731   4¼cwt   29.25"   1050.0Hz (C+6c)
3 Thomas Russell, Wootton     1731   5cwt    31.25"    929.5Hz (Bb-5c)
4 Thomas Russell, Wootton     1731   6-2-23  33.25"    883.0Hz (A+6c)
5 Thomas Russell, Wootton     1731   8cwt    36.75"    782.0Hz (G-4c)
6 John Warner & Sons, London  1874  11-0-11  41.00"    696.5Hz (F-5c)

Photo Gallery

napton2_small napton3_small
The Church -
Looking East
The Church -
Looking West
(Note the Blocked Door)
napton4_small napton5_small
Ringers in 
front of the
blocked doorway
A door within a
door in the church

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