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WALSGRAVE-ON-SOWE St Mary 6, 6-1-15 in B

Grid Reference 140/379808 Walsgrave Church - Source: David Kelly
Postcode CV2 2AW
Affiliation Coventry DG
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday By Arrangement
Practice Monday 1930-2100 (Check)

History Of The Bells

This church is in a village that has gradually been absorbed into Coventry. This is on a main dual-carriageway road, south from Junction 2 of the M6 and is near to the University Hospital. The "Sowe" in the title is a small river.

The church is fairly small, despite having aisles either side of the nave (that on the north side being far more substantial) and the first thing you notice is the different coloured stone, red sandstone for the 13th/14th century nave and chancel and grey for the 15th century west tower and aisles (a mixture is used on the north side where earlier material was presumably recycled).

The Perpendicular tower itself is fairly short, and of a type consistent with other local examples (e.g. Exhall & Ryton on Dunsmore); here its proportions have not been helped by the Victorian restoration that raised the level and pitch of the nave roof, making at break into the belfry window on the east side and giving it a stunted appearance from all sides except the west. This was done fairly often in the 19th century, where there was more thought given to enhancing the internal proportions than respecting the harmony of the existing external ones. A red sandstone clerestorey was added but lit only by tiny porthole windows, and only visible on the south side owing to the generous north aisle roof. More recently a parish centre was added to the south west corner which wholly embraces the west end of the south aisle and much of the base of the tower, though fortunately its effect is less noticeable than one might think owing to being largely camouflaged by trees.

The bells at this church were an unringable 8cwt 5 for many years until in mid 1980s when they were recast and rehung.

The fourth and tenor were William Bagley bells of 1702, the two remaining bells from a ring of 4. The exisiting treble was recast and a new treble was added by Taylor of Oxford in 1843. The third is a recast of the 2nd of the original 4 by Taylor of Loughborough in 1872. A chime barrel was added by George Worton of Coventry, who had previously hung the third and repaired the frame and fitting, in 1877. The old frame was of late Seventeenth Century in date, built originally for four bells, with a square void in the middle. When the bells were augmented to 5 in 1843 the pit of the second bell was turned altered to accommodate the five bells.

The inscriptions are recorded in Tilley and Walters' book, "The Church Bells of Warwickshire":

A peal of Bob Doubles was rung on the bells in 23/4/1927. It was noted in the edition of May 6th that the ringing conditions were difficult, suggesting that for over 60 years the bells were in need of attention.  

Ernest Morris wrote in The Ringing World of Augtust 17th 1945:

"At the church of St. Mary, Walsgrave-on-Sowe, Warwickshire, there is a ring of five dating from 1702 to 1843. The 4th bell, after giving names of vicars and wardens, has the unusual inscription : ‘
' Harken do ye heare
Ovr claperes want beere.’ ‘
Claperes ’ appears to be 'a euphemism for ‘ ringers.’ The 5th bears an inscription in cryptic Latin with sentiments much the same. The late ‘ Uncle ’ Joe Sykes, after ringing in the first peal here, on April 23rd, 1927, in a letter to the press, says, ‘ It is the most unique tower I ever visited. When you arrive at the door of the “ place where you stand to pull the ropes ” — ringing chamber would be a misnomer— you descend into a pit 10 ft. by 5 ft. by 6 ft. deep, open to the elements, as there are no window frames or glass in the holes in the tower walls, and I don’t believe there, ever have been. The tenor-man has to throw his rope out all the time, as the hole in the roof is so close to the wall, and he has only about four square feet to perform his gyrations'. If he exceeds this, he hangs the 4th ringer. But the poor treble ringer’s rope comes down exactly in the corner of the pit only three inches from the angle, and he is obliged to ring with his back to the rest of the band, with his face in the corner like a bad boy. The 4th tries to slip wheel every six-score. The tower is a nice one, ’tis the ringing room and appurtenances which are so bad, and why such conditions prevail one cannot understand.’"

 Details of the peal are:-

(Sadly, within 2 years the ringers of 3, 4 & 5 were all dead)

The treble's wheel is reported to have disintegrated during ringing for a ringer's wedding in 1937.

There was a complete "clear out" of the old installation in 1984. The inscriptions on the old bells were repeated in facsimile on the new ones. The old frame was originally re-erected in the churchyard when the completely new installation was provided, but has subsequently had to be be demolished due to the activities of local youths in the churchyard.  The new H-frame and fittings are typical Taylors of the period.

The removal of the bells was noted in The Ringing World of July 6th 1984: 
"From the Press
Ten school leavers on a Youth Training Scheme have helped to remove the bells of St. Mary's, Walsgrave. The 280 year-old bells have not been rung since the end of World War II and are due to be recast by John Taylor and Co. into a new ring of six and it is hoped to have the restored ring in place by Christmas. The report in The Coventry Evening Telegraph described the largest bell as 3ft. in diameter and weighing 5 tons - pretty dense metal! It is in fact listed at 7½ cwt. in "Dove"

In the "Foundry Focus" article of August 3rd 1984 it is noted:

"At the moment frame construction is taking place of a new six-bell frame for Walsgrave-on-Sowe, Coventry. Here the long-unringable ring of five is being recast into a 6½ cwt. ring of six with a tenor sounding the note B natural. This job is of potential interest to imbibing ringers as the two old tenor bells, by William Bagley of Chacombe, bear unique inscriptions, to be reproduced in facsimile on the new bells, viz., "HARKE HARKE DOE YE HEARE OUR CLAPPERS WANT BEERE" on the old 4th, and “ QUANTUM SUFFIFIT BIBIERE VOLO CLANCULA VOS A MUSICA TONE" (roughly translated as “When you’ve had your fill of beer listen to my musical tone” ) on the old tenor."

The first peal on the new bells was rung in 1988:

There is an old post with 4 bell call changes on it in the tower that shows they were once an anticlockwise 4.  It spells out the changes to ring Double Canterbury Minimus. See Chris Pickford's excellent article which was published in the Ringing World of 20/27 December 1985:

The Warwick University ringers started to practice here at the beginning of 2015. They aim to practice each week, but checking that any practice will take place is advised before travelling.

It is usually best to park in the pub car park, The Red Lion just after the church.  There is a charage, but you can get (some of) it back at the bar!

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1984  2-2-04  22.375"  1682.0Hz (G#+22c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1984  3-1-08  24.00"   1492.0Hz (F#+14c)
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1984  3-1-09  24.875"  1325.5Hz (E+9c)
4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1984  3-3-00  26.00"   1251.0Hz (D#+9c)
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1984  4-1-23  28.50"   1111.0Hz (C#+4c)
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1984  6-1-15  32.125"   986.0Hz (B-3c)

Details of the Previous Bells

1 W & J Taylor, Oxford            1843  2-2-08  24.00"
W & J Taylor, Oxford            1843  2-3-02  25.25"
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1882  4-3-23  29.50" 
4 William Bagley Chacombe         1702  6-0-01  31.00"
William Bagley Chacombe         1702  8-0-00  34.25"

Photo Gallery

The Church - Looking West. Source: Mike Chester The Church - Looking East. Source: Mike Chester
The Church - Looking West The Church - Looking East
The Bells. Source: Mike Chester The Ringing Chamber. Source: Mike Chester
The Bells The Ringing Chamber 
The Frame - Source: Chris Pickford The Inscriptions. Source: Chris Pickford 
The Old Frame The Inscriptions 
The Post - Source: D Phillipson for Chris Pickford The Post - Source: 
Christopher Dalton
The "Post" What is on each side of the post. 

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