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SMETHWICK* Old Church 8, 7-1-7 in B

Grid Reference 139/020876 Smethwick Church - Source: David Kelly
Postcode B67 6EQ
Recording None Available
Affiliations St Martin's Guild &
Worcestershire & Districts Assoc
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0945-1015
Practice Wednesday 1945-2100
Other Information Church Website


This church was consecrated on 13 September 1732 as a chapel of Harborne. It was never given a dedication, it was first known as the Old Chapel, Smethwick Chapel or Parkes’s Chapel. Dorothy Parkes (1644-1727) left money in her will to build the church. In 1842 it became the parish church of a new parish covering the southern half of Smethwick. One bell was cast by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston in 1732, 5½cwt in B. It now hangs from the roof beams of the tower.

It is a classical building of brick with stone dressings. There is a west tower, with a clock given in 1932 by Sir John Mitchell.  The vestry, on the northeast, was built in 1963 to replace a smaller one burnt down in 1962, presumably the one built by Addenbrooke. The interior is an undivided space with a shallow apse. It has a west gallery, erected in 1759; the rents from the seats in it were then assigned for 'repairs and beautifying the church',  but it now contains the organ. Dorothy Parkes was buried at Harborne in 1728, but her body was moved to Smethwick in 1735. The marble tablet commemorating her on the south wall of the chancel near the spot where she is buried was erected in 1736 under the terms of her will. 

The tower now contains a modern ring of 8 bells, cast in 1977 and hung the following year. These replaced a previous ring of 8 that were cast by the local firm of Carr in 1897 at a cost of £325. However, these were not deemed to be satisfactory bells and they were replaced in 1899, though retaining the 1897 date in the inscriptions. They were hung in a two-tier frame, the second being in a wooden frame above the others in a metal frame. The inscriptions were:

JOHN NEWEY        }


The first peal in the tower was rung in February of 1898:

This was rung on the first set of bells - looking at the Felstead Record the bells must have been swapped quickly, as there is no gap in the succession of peals rung in the first  years of there being bells in the tower. The first peal on the second ring was rung a year after the first peal on the original bells:

The following appearered in Bell News on August 20th 1904:

"Smethwick (Staffordshire). St. Mary. Society for the Archdeaconry of Stafford. Eight new bells. All by Carr, Tenor 10 cwt., diameter 3. ft. 2 in. Iron frame. Bells go well. Ropes good. Methods: Grandsire and Stedman, Sunday ringing : 10 to 11, and 5.30 to 6.30. Practice : Wednesday, 7.30."

Though the bells were well used, 61 peals being rung prior to WWII, they fell out of use by about 1950. The last peal on the old bells was rung in 1938. The band did not comment favourably about the bells!  "A peal of Bob Major was rung at Smethwick, Staffs, on May 25th. The last peal on the bells was rung in April, 1926. They are now a very rough going ring and badly need the attentions of the ‘ hanger in all ways. The peal was arranged so that several ringers who reside in Smethwick could ring one there before it is ‘ too late.’ ‘ Swindon. James ’ had not previously rung a peal there, so he, also, added this tower to his collection."  In the same edition of The Ringing World, June 3rd 1938 it was noted, "A scheme has been ‘ on the anvil ’ for having these bells recast, but money at present is required fo r a new Parish Hall"

In 1963 a faculty was issued for major works on the church, including the removal of all the bells, except the 7th. Taylors scrapped the seven bells and refurbished the remaining one for ringing in the old frame. The bells were described as not being a particularly tuneful ring. In the faculty application is is noted that the bells, "are no longer wanted and are not considered a particularly satisfactory installation or of any great musical value”. This was shown in a letter that was published in The Ringing World on August 14th 1964
"Bells of Smethwick Old Church Sold
Dear Sir. — Older ringers of the Black Country will be interested to hear, with mixed feelings, that the bells of Smethwick Old Church were sold , except for the treble, towards the end of 1963. They were cast in 1897 by Charles Carr of Smethwick, but were replaced with another ring in 1899.
The inscription on the treble reads: ‘ Peal of 8 bells erected to commemorate 60 years’ Reign of Queen Victoria by Public Subscription .’ Let us hope the dear old lady wasn’t extravagant.’
By a twist of fate the business of Charles Carr has also been sold, the site being required for new development by the local authority . Another bell in the tower, cast in 1732 by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston, has also been retained.— Yours faithfully, SIDNEY O. HOLLOWAY. Smethwick ."

The remaining bell was then scrapped when a new ring of 8 was given in memory of Doris Evelyn Adams.

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough  1977    2-1-11  21.00    1996.0Hz (B+18c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough  1977    2-3-18  22.00"   1887.0Hz (A#+21c)
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough  1977    3-0-02  23.125"  1676.0Hz (G#+15c)
4 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough  1977    3-0-12  23.75"   1492.0Hz (F#+14c)
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough  1977    3-1-14  25.375"  1324.0Hz (E+7)
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough  1977    3-3-19  26.625"  1249.0Hz (D#+6c)
7 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough  1977    5-0-21  29.50"   1112.0Hz (C#+5c)
8 John Taylor & Co, Loughbrough  1977    7-1-01  32.875"   987.0Hz (B-1c)

Details of the Carr Ring

1 Charles Carr, Smethwick        1897/9  4-2-19  25.50"   1652.0Hz (G#-10c)
2 Charles Carr, Smethwick        1897/9  4-2-02  26.125"  1589.0Hz (Fx+23c)
3 Charles Carr, Smethwick        1897/9  4-2-06  27.25"   1401.0Hz (E#+5c)
4 Charles Carr, Smethwick        1897/9  4-1-25  28.00"   1244.0Hz (D#-1c)
5 Charles Carr, Smethwick        1897/9  5-0-27  30.50"   1077.0Hz (C#-50c)
6 Charles Carr, Smethwick        1897/9  5-1-20  31.75"   1027.0Hz (B#-33c)
7 Charles Carr, Smethwick        1897/9  7-0-11  34.50"   n/a
8 Charles Carr, Smethwick        1897/9  8-2-02  38.125"   790.0Hz (G+13c)
(scrapping weights)

Photo Gallery

Plan of the Church - Source: British History Online
Plan of the Church
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