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SOUTHAM St James 8, 15-1-25 in E (GF)

Grid Reference 151/418617 Southam Church - Source: Mapio
Postcode CV47 0HQ
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 0930-1000 & 1800-1830
Practice Tuesday 1930-2100
Other Information Church Website


Set in the middle of a busy town, recently made quieter as it has been "by-passed", St James is just off the market place and has a spire. A nice church that is worth a look at prior to ringing. The bells are rung from the ground floor and go reasonably well.

The church stands on a mound towards the east of a large churchyard. It is entered via timber lych-gate of 1938, with an avenue of lime-trees to the north porch, and also by a gate on the south. It consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north aisle to chancel, west tower, north and south porches and a vestry. The present church dates from the 14th century; in the 15th century a spire was added to the tower, the aisles nearly doubled in width, the chancel rebuilt, and early in the 16th century the aisle roofs were lowered to enable a clearstory to be added. In 1889 an aisle was added on the north side of the chancel, together with a vestry, which is entered from it, the south porch and the north wall of the north aisle were rebuilt. A great deal of restoration has been carried out opver time, including the spire, the upper part of which appears to have been rebuilt with a light-coloured sandstone.

Until 1863 there were five bells here, the existing three tenors and a treble of 1596 and second, it being a Watts of Leicester bell of 1613. The trebles were recast and a further treble added by Mears and Co and the frame was altered to take six bells. The inscxriptions of the ring of 6 at this time are recorded in Tilley and Walters' book, "The Church Bells of Warwickshire":

 The existing metal H-frame dates from 1913 when the bells were first rehung as a six in an eight bell frame (dedicated on 19 April 1913). The dedication is rather amusingly reported in the Bell News of April 26th 1913:

On Saturday, April 19th, at the invitation of the Rev. J. Hart Davies, M .A., (Rector), and ]ohn Oldham, Esq. (churchwarden), six members of the St. Michael’s Society, Stoke Coventry, paid a visit to Southam, the object being to re-open the peal of six bells at the parish church of St. James. The bells have been rehung in a new iron frame, and provision made for two trebles, the expense being borne by the Oldham family as a memorial to a deceased sister. A start was made from the city of motors, cycles, and other things, at 1.15 p.m., and after a pleasant ride of 13 miles, enlivened by two of the heavy weights getting a shortness of wind, and a dislocated pedal, Southam was reached shortly before 3 p.m., Messrs. Taylor’s representative having everything in readiness. The bells were raised in peal, and one 6-score of Grandsire Doubles and a few rounds were rung with the bells halfmuffled. Then a short re-dedication service took place, conducted by the Rev. J. Hart Davies, M. A . Immediately after the service an attempt was made to ring a peal in three Minor methods. After 18 minutes’ ringing, a changecourse occurred, which necessitated another start being made. In 2 hours 57 minutes “ that’s all ’ proclaimed that the first peal of Minor on Southam bells was an accomplished fact. On descending from the tower the ringers were greeted by a hearty cheer from the local ringers and others assembled. A move was then made to Mr. Oldham’s residence, where a most sumptuous repast was partaken of. Messrs. Taylor are to be congratulated on the manner in which they have carried out the restoration, and when two trebles have been added (which will probably be in the near future), Southam will possess a nice peal, with a tenor 16 cwt. in E , The treble and 3rd were recast, and the 2nd added by C. Mears and Co. In 1863. The 4th was cast by Watts, of Leicester, 1615 ; the 5th by John Martin, of Worcester, 1650; and the tenor by Henry Bagley, 1676. The ringers desire to express, through the medium of “ The Bell News, ” their thanks to the Rev. J. Hart Davies, and Messrs. Oldham, for the opportunity of enjoying a most pleasant outing."

A similar, but shorter, report was published in The Ringing World on May 2nd

The trebles were added soon afterwards and dedicated on 17 May 1913. This work was carried out by Taylors of Lougborough. A peal of minor in three methods was rung between these points of time and one of Stedman Triples on the day of the second dedication. The canons were removed from the bells and they were one eight turned. Bells 1, 4, 6 & 7 hang in the upper frame and the others in the lower frame.  At this time there was an upstairs ringing chamber, its small size being a point of comment in The Ringing World of November 7th 1913, but at some later point they were made into a ground floor ring.

The peal of minor:

The first peal on the ring of 8 was also rung by the Stoke ringing, 2 months later:

All were rehung on ball bearings by Mears & Stainbank, 1954. Minor work to improve the handling of the bells was carried out in 2002.

The tenor has been stated in some places as being in the key of F. It is actually just nearer E, being E+47c. The two trebles were cast with flat tops and the canons of the others have been removed.

The following amusing article appeared in The Ringing World of September 22nd 1967:

During the Civil War the Rector of Southam, Warwickshire, Francis Holyoake, was a staunch Royalist. The townspeople, ringers included, were Parliamentarians. Consequently when the King entered the town two months before the Battle of Edgehill. the ringers refused to ring the bells to welcome him. The church accounts record the effects of the King’s subsequent displeasure.
“ Paid to the King’s footman who sealed up the church-door for not ringing when the King came to town, xiij s. iv d . (13s. 4d.).”
The Southam men were not easily browbeaten, however, as the next entry in the accounts shows:
“Paid also to them for not ringing when the King went out of the town v s. (5s.).”"

There is some parking in the market place or try by the north wall of the churchyard. Enter via the north door.

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1913   4-0-23  26.50"   1358.0Hz (E+51c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1913   4-2-07  27.625"  1280.0Hz (D#+49c)
3 George Mears & Co, London       1863   4-3-15  30.125"  1136.0Hz (C#+42c)
4 George Mears & Co, London       1863   5-2-20  31.625"  1017.0Hz (B+50c)
5 George Mears & Co, London       1863   6-3-19  32.25"    904.0Hz (A+47c)
6 Hugh Watts II, Leicester        1615   8-1-15  36.875"   850.0Hz (G#+40c)
7 John Martin, Worcester          1650   9-3-14  39.50"    758.0Hz (F#+42c)
8 Henry Bagley I, Chacombe        1676  15-1-25  44.50"    677.5Hz (E+47c)

Photo Gallery

southam2_small southam6_small southam4_mall
The Nave The East End of the Church The Church, Looking West 
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The Ringing Chamber The Way up to the Bells.
Note that the 7th's rope
Falls Inside the Cage! 

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