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YARDLEY St Edburgha 8; 12-2-16 in F#

Grid Reference 139/135863 Yardley Church - Source: Robert Jones
Postcode B33 8PB
Affiliation St Martin's Guild
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday 1015-1045 (usually) & 1745-1830
Practice Wednesday 1945-2115
Other Information Ringers' Website


This is another church that came into Warwickshire as a result of being absorbed into the city of Birmingham, in this case in 1911. Previously it was in the county of Worcestershire. The area has become rather built up since this time, but there remains a little of the village feel around the church. The 149 feet tall spire, erected in the 15th century and repaired in 1889 (hence the middle being of slightly different coloured stone) and again in recent years, is a prominent landmark.

The church oconsists of a chancel 38½ ft. by 17½ ft., with a north vestry and organ chamber, a nave 57½ ft. by 24½ ft., a north aisle 17 ft. wide, a south transept 17 ft. by 16½ ft. and a west tower 14 ft. square. The 13th-century remains include the south doorway, the south wall of the chancel, which contains a lancet window, and a similar window in the north wall of the vestry, formerly in the chancel. They point to a simple church of that date, consisting probably of chancel and nave only. In the 14th century north and south transepts seem to have been added and the chancel lengthened eastwards, and in the 15th century the west tower was built and the north aisle added. In more recent years the south transept and the east end of the chancel were rebuilt and the vestry added. On the south side of the chancel the 13th-century rubble walling remains while to the east is the coursed rubble of the 14th century. The lofty chancel arch is of the late 14th century. The western portion of the north arcade of the nave is of the 15th century; the east bay, which is the original transept arch, is of the 14th century. In the south wall of the nave are two 15th-century windows, each of two lights with quatrefoiled tracery over, and between them is a simple 13th-century pointed doorway, which has been rebuilt. It leads into a fine 15th-century oak porch with tracery at the sides and a carved barge-board. Further east is a chamfered arch opening into the south transept.

The present bells are a classic Taylor 8 of their period and are very good indeed - one of the best in their weight class. It is likely that the first ring of bells here were probably 5 in number and cast by Hugh Watts of Leicester in 1638. John Martin of Worcester recast the second in 1653 and in 1691 William Bagley recast the third. It is just possible that these two bells were added to the existing three. The ring was rehung by Henry Bisseker of Birmingham in 1891/2 for £80, he being the successor to William Blews and Sons. James Barwell of Birmingham added a treble in 1902.

The frame at this date was a wooden one, originally for five bells and probably dating from 1638. Barwell added an extra pit in 1902. The treble was cast without canons and those of the rest had been removed before the ring was recast.

H. B. Walters, in his book" The Church Bells of Worcestershire" give lovely images of the inscriptions of the back 5 at this time.  He incorrectly said that a tenor was added in 1902, when it was a treble, therefore the bell numbers are one out in relation to their position in the ring of 6.

(click to enlarge)

The treble was inscribed:


The first peal on the ring of 6 was rung in 1925:

Death-watch beetle infestation in the frame saw the end of this ring and a complete replacement of it by the present ring of 8. this appeared in The Ringing World of 17th Febuary 1950:

Owing to the ravages of the death-watch beetle, ringing at Yardley Parish Church, Birmingham, was stopped. A church restoration appeal for £10,000 was launched. The local ringers undertook to dismantle the bells and frame. This has been successfully accomplished. The bells have been lowered to the ground and now await despatch to Loughborough. They will be rehung in a new steel frame and two new trebles added to make a ring of eight. It is necessary that the tower and spire should be repaired, repointed and treated owing to the advanced state of erosion, and the ringers hope that this will be completed the time the bells are ready."

The new ring was dedicated on September 9th 1950 and reported, with a history of the bells, in the edition of September 29th:

It was a sad day in 1948 when the ringers at St. Edburgha’s, Yardley, Birmingham, felt compelled to recommend to their Vicar and churchwardens that all ringing should stop because of the ravages of the death-watch beetle in the 300-year-old timbers.

An appeal fund was already in existence for £10,000 to provide a new Mission Church, a Church Hall, a new organ in the Parish Church, and renovations to the tower and spire and rehanging of the bells. Money was coming in very slowly, but the silence of the bells spoke louder than the parson, and greater efforts were made to raise funds, until at last the Church Council felt able to place the order with Messrs. Taylor and Co. for recasting and rehanging, with two trebles given to complete the octave.

The work of dismantling the old frame, lowering the bells to the ground and dispatching them to the foundry was done by the local ringers. Then on September 9th the new ring was dedicated by the Ven. Michael Palmer, Archdeacon of Aston.

The Archdeacon welcomed the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, Canon Cochrane (the former Vicar of Yardley), the Rector of Sheldon and the Vicar of Stechford. He said that some people associated bells chiefly with weddings and funerals, but their main purpose was to call people to worship Almighty God. He also pointed out that it is laid down in the Book of Common Prayer that the curate shall cause a bell to be rung at a convenient time before a service is due to begin. Not so many years ago Yardley bells rang over fields and farms, while now they will be heard over a vast housing area : so let the bells ring and call together all who will work hard to bring the people of the new areas into Christ’s Church.

The dedication rounds were rung by the following members of St. Martin’s Guild : E. Shepherd, W. Dowding, A. D. Cook, J. Harvey, G. Chaplin, A. H. Fitter, F. Haynes and G. E. Fearn.

The opening touch of Stedman Triples was rung by H. Fearn 1, E. Shepherd 2. F. Haynes 3, A. W alker (conductor) 4, A. D. Cook 5, J. Pinfold 6, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham (Alderman A. Paddon-Smith) 7, G. E. Fearn 8. Afterwards the bells were kept going from rounds to Yorkshire.


Treble.— 4 cwt. Note F sharp. Inscription: John Taylor and Co., Founders, Loughborough. 1950. In memory of Thomas E. Hughes, Obit 1949.
2nd.— 4¼ cwt. Note F. John Taylor and Co., Founders, Loughborough, 1950. presented by past and present members of the Yardley Grammar School.
3rd.— 4¾ cwt. Note D sharp. Barwell, Founder, Birmingham. Recast 1950. The gift of the parishioners in commemoration of the Coronation of King Edward the Seventh, June 26th, 1902.
4th.— 5¼ cwt. Note C sharp. The reqvest of Aylmer Folliot, Esqvire, 1638. Recast 1950.
5th.—6½ cw[t. Note B. All praise and glori bee to God for ever, 1653. IA. Recast 1950.
6th.— 7¼ cwt. Note A sharp. Richard ]yhitvs, George Bissell. Churchwardens. W illiam Bagley made mee 1691. Recast 1950.
7th.—9½ cwt. Note G sharp. IH S : Nazarenvs Jcx: Ivdeorvm F ili: Dei Miserere: M ei: 1638 Recast 1950.
Tenor.— 12½ cwt. Note F sharp. Hvmfrey Hobday and Richard Bissell, Chvrchwardens. 1638. Recast 1950.


In 1638 Aylmer Polliot, of Blakesley Hall, which still stands not far from the church gave three bells to replace two bells reported as ' hangynge in ye steple,’ also he bequeathed in his will to the Vicar of Yardley his ' best hatt. ' These three bells are the present 4th, 7th and tenor, and were cast by Hugh Watts, of Leicester. They must have sounded rather peculiar, so in 1653 another one was given (viz., 5th) by an unknown person. This bell was cast by John Martin, of Worcester. The initials ‘ IA ' below the inscription are those of the Vicar at that time, John Archer. About a hundred years ago this bell was struck by lightning and the canons burnt through, consequently holes were drilled through the crown and bolts put in to fix the bell to the headstock. Another bell was added in 1691 (6th) by William Bagley.

In 1902, Barwells, of Birmingham, were commissioned to cast a smaller bell, repair the old frame and put the old five on new bearings. This was done by putting great stay bolts through frame which was probably being already attacked by the death-watch beetle. It has been said that the treble, as it was then, was the best bell the firm ever cast. It certainly could speak out.

Five peals have been rung on the old six. The first in 1925, a peal of Kent Treble Bob Minor for St. Martin’s Guild. The other four were Grandsire Doubles rung by the local ringers for St. Edburgha’s Society, as they called themselves before the war.

The consensus of opinion, freely expressed, was that the new bells are a fine musical ring which could hardly be surpassed. They are a great credit to the founders and everyone concerned."

Note that the weights given below are the correct ones, those usually give are now known to be slightly inaccurate.

The first peal on the new ring of 8 was rung in Janury of 1951:

The church was the "featured tower" for The Ringing World edition of June 15th 1972:

Click to enlarge)

The story of the 1950 restoration was again reported in The Ringing World of November 18th 2005:

(Most of the above bell information is quoted directly (with permission) from the research notes of Chris Pickford)

Details of the Bells

1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1950   3-3-07  25.50"   1466.5Hz (F#-16c)
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1950   4-1-03  26.50"   1384.0Hz (E#-16c)
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1950   4-2-19  28.125"  1234.0Hz (D#-15c)
4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1950   5-1-10  30.00"   1097.0Hz (C#-18c)
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1950   6-1-11  32.125"   979.0Hz (B-15c)
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1950   7-0-26  33.625"   924.0Hz (A#-16c)
7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1950   9-2-09  37.00"    823.0Hz (G#-16c)
8 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough  1950  12-2-16  41.125"   733.5Hz (F#-15c)

Details of the Previous Bells

1 James Barwell, Birmingham       1902   4-3-10  29.125"  1215.0Hz (D#-42c)
2 Hugh Watts II, Leicester        1638   5-1-21  29.875"  1104.0Hz (C#-7)
3 John Martin, Worcester          1653   6-0-01  32.00"    991.0Hz (B+6)
4 William Bagley, Chacombe        1691   6-2-12  34.875"   940.0Hz (A#-14c)
5 Hugh Watts II, Leicester        1638   8-2-00  35.625"   820.0Hz (G#-20c)
6 Hugh Watts II, Leicester        1638  12-1-19  40.00"    728.0Hz (F#-28)

Photo Gallery

The Church - Looking East. Source: Robert Jones The Church - Looking West. Source: 
			  Gill Cocks
The Church - Looking East The Church - Looking West

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