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TANWORTH-IN-ARDEN St Mary Magdalene 8, 12-1-5 in F#

Grid Reference 139/114705 Tanworth Church - Source: DAvid Kelly
Postcode B94 5AJ
Affiliation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 1000-1030
Practice 1930-2100 (Check)


The church consists of a chancel, nave, wide north aisle, porches, and west tower with a spire. It was largely built in the half-century leading up to 1330/40.  The church has abnormally thick walls for the period, 3'0"-3'9". A general restoration was carried out in 1880.

The frame and fittings are by Mears & Stainbank, 1949. These bells replace a ring of six by Richard Sanders of Bromsgrove 1707, of which the tenor had been recast by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston in 1733, it weighing 12-0-9. They had been last rehung in 1894. The inscriptions at this point in time are given in Tilley and Walters' book, "The Church Bells of Warwickshire":

The following was printed in The Ringing World of January 14th 1949:

Until October, 1947, Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire, had had a ' stoney ’ band. On December 18th, following an unsuccessful peal attempt, 1,260 Grandsire Doubles was rung by: John H. Jones 1, J. N. Limlon (cond.) 2, J. Scott 3, A. H. Fitter 4, A. T). Cook 5, A J. Collins 6. This was the first quarter of Grandsire by all except the conductor.
A complete restoration of the bells and framework by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank is due to commence after Christmas and finish by May, 1949. The contract includes a new all-metal frame, rehanging in ball bearings, recasting the fifth and adding two new trebles.
The front five bells are by Richard Sanders, of Bromsgrove, and were cast in 1707. In 1733 the tenor was cast by Smith, of Edgbaston, the last major overhaul being in 1894.
To have a permanent record of the bells a gramophone recording was made. If anyone would like a copy they are asked to contact Mr. John H. Jones, Bank House, Tanworthin-Arden, near Birmingham."

The dedication was reported in the edition of July 29th:

For many years before the late war it. was known that the six bells (tenor 12 cwt.) in the tower of the Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Tanworth, were in need of attention, but it was not until the return of enthusiastic young ringers from the Forces that in 1947 it was decided to call for expert advice. As a result the Whitechapel Foundry was invited to retune and rehang the bells, five of which had been cast in 1707 by Richard Sanders, of Bromsgrove, and the tenor in 1733 by Joseph Smith, of Edgbaston.
When the bells were taken from the tower in January, 1949, it was possible to check old records stating that in 1552 there were ' iiij belles a saunce bel  i'n the tower, for the original timber foundations of these were still in position under the later wooden framework, though much weathered and worm-eaten.
Our plans had to be modified when the foundry reported the bells were too thin to retune satisfactorily, and as the cost of the original estimate had already been found by private subscriptions a further appeal was launched, and the foundry was requested to recast all the bells and rehang them from iron headstocks on ball bearings in a new steel frame.
On the suggestion of the captain of the Stratford-on-Avon band of ringers, we also asked for two pits for additional trebles to be included in the framework so that we might eventually complete the octave. Almost immediately following upon this we were offered the new bells as memorials to two former local residents, and by these generous gifts have been able to combine future with present plans. Within five months - all this work had been completed, and local ringers and friends enjoyed a trip to London to watch some of the be. Is recast on May 4th.
Some misgiving was felt at a break with tradition when we were advised that our ringing should be removed from the ground floor of the tower into the room above owing to the long draught making the new 4 cwt. trebles difficult to handle. However, we tackled this development in the same spirit with which we had met other problems (for example, the bricking up of the tower windows, the removal of a ceiling above the bell chamber and the lowering of the bell chamber floor, as advised in the Central Council’s ‘ Hints ’, so that, thanks to a donation from the St. Martin’s Guild for the Diocese of Birmingham, visiting ringers at the dedication service on July 9th were able to comment on the new neatly panelled walls and other furnishings of the converted junk-room, which included fluorescent lighting to give shadowless illumination of the ropes.
The eight bells are now hung in two contrarotating lines of four swinging east and west and so roped that there is minimal thrust exerted against the tower, and we confidently feel that the whole effect gives us one of the neatest and nicest eights in Warwickshire.
At the dedication service by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham, tributes were paid to Messrs. Mears and Stainbank for the expeditious and thorough work carried out in under six months and to the captain of the local band, Mr. John H. Jones, who has been the prime mover of the efforts in Tanworth to raise the money required and to ensure that we attained all we set out to achieve.
Rounds were rung during the service by members of the local band, and the opening touch (504 Stedman Triples) after the service was rung by members of the St. M artin's Guild, to whose guidance and encouragement we owe so much. Over 60 ringers attended from Birmingham and the neighbouring dioceses, so Tanworth was regaled until after 8 o’clock with touches in all the standard methods. It is many a day since we had such a gathering in our small village, and in truth it was a day we and our friends will long remember with pleasure.

The first peal on the bells was rung shortly afterwards:


The current ring was cast with flat tops and are hung in a cast iron lowside frame.

They are tuned against "Old Concert Pitch" which has "A" as being 454Hz. Today concert pitch is based on "A" being 440Hz. This means that the ring if cast today would be said to be just nearer to being in the key of G.

Work was carried out on the installation by Taylors in February 2018. The bells were lifted from their pits and their bearings were cleaned/replaced as necessary. The rope circle was improved and the roller boxes restored, and the bell frame cleaned and repainted.

The following article of historical interest was published in The Norfolk Chronicle on Saturday 19th May 1798. "In consequence of an unhappy dispute between the old and new ringers at Tanworth church, Warwickshire, one of each party turned out last week to fight, when Butcher, the old ringer, received so dreadful a blow on the head, that he fell dead on the spot. The verdict of the Coroner’s Jury was - Manslaughter."

A good ring of bells that are worth a visit.

Details of the Bells

1 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel  1949   4-1-21  26.00"  1528.0Hz (F#+55c)
2 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel  1949   4-2-23  27.00"  1438.0Hz (E#+50c)
3 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel  1949   4-2-16  28.00"  1276.0Hz (D#+43c)
4 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel  1949   5-2-00  30.00"  1148.0Hz (C#+60c)
5 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel  1949   5-3-17  32.00"  1020.0Hz (B+56c)
6 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel  1949   6-2-20  33.00"   956.0Hz (A#+43c)
7 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel  1949   8-2-02  36.00"   860.0Hz (G#+60c)
8 Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel  1949  12-1-05  41.00"   764.0Hz (F#+55c)

Photo Gallery

The Church - Looking East: Source: Aidan MacRae Thomson The Chancel: Source: Mark Salmon
The Church - Looking East The Chancel 

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