A Little History of Cherington and Stourton, Warwickshire
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The Church Bells and their History

2006 bell restoration

- an overview

Photographs from

the restoration project

Hear the five old Cherington bells

and new ring of six, hung in 2006.

Could I be a bell-ringer?

2nd bell: Taylors reported during the restoration that the bell was badly cracked and that it had been filled with lead; the repair was a very good one. It is probable that this work was done in the belfry, despite the risks, because it appears that no bell had been lowered between 1842 and 2006. It is not known when this repair was done.

Tenor bell note: a semitone is divided into 100 cents, so B-46 cents is almost half a semitone flat of B (Equal Tempered International Pitch). More

Metric equivalents: 1 cwt (hundredweight) = 112 lbs (50.8 kg). 1 qr (quarter) = 28 lbs (12.7 kg). 1 lb = 0.454 kg. 1' (foot) = 30.48 cm. = 12" (inches). 1" (inch) = 2.54 cm.

When local bakers still worked in the villages, the third (now the fourth) bell was known as the pudding bell. Its chimes would warn that the church service was shortly to start and that it was time for villagers to make use of the bakers' ovens, still hot from bread-making, to cook their Yorkshire puddings, which would then be ready to collect when they came out of church.

History of the bells

The details in the above table, as well as the following notes, are largely based on the content of "Cherington's Bells", a leaflet produced on the occasion of the consecration of the restored peal in October 2006, and written by Richard Russell.

The Church of St John the Baptist was built mainly in the 13th century, with its solid tower probably coming after the main church. The first record of its bells was in 1552, soon after the Reformation, as the new Church of England found its feet.

There were then iiij bells and a little bell and this note Mem. The p'ishe hathe solde sythe the last survey one bell to the Amending of highe ways & the Repac'ons of theyr churche. The little bell was, presumably, in the main tower and not like sanctus bells in a small bellcote, as at nearby Brailes and Long Compton. The main bells would probably have been chimed: full circle change-ringing developed later.

The next important event in the history of our bells was the installation of three bells in 1742 by the well-respected bellfounder, Henry Bagley III of Witney in Oxfordshire: we are not sure what happened to the earlier bells although there is a record of five bells in 1750. Two of Bagley's bells are still part of our current peal and, as the original tenor was probably recast in 1842, all three may still be with us. Gentlemen of the Dickins family (spelt “Dickings” on the bell inscriptions) being Cherington's squires from 1658 to 1920, this work in 1742 was apparently led by William Dickins, supported by the Churchwardens of the day, Nicholas Holtom and Thomas Attwood. The Holtoms lived in the village for some five centuries, and the Attwood name reappears in the 1842 bell restoration. It features several times in Margaret Dickins' Little History, going back to the seventeenth century.

The Turner family acquired the patronage of the living of Cherington in 1832 and Power Turner became Rector in 1841. In the following year, when the old bells became centenarian, it seems he was the person responsible for the increase in the number of bells from three to five. His name, along with that of just one Churchwarden, Edward Timms, appears on the two new bells and the one that was probably recast. The bellfounder was W. & J. Taylor of Oxford. The work was probably done by William Taylor because his brother John, reportedly the better bellfounder of the two, left Oxford in 1839 to establish his own firm, which became John Taylor of Loughborough.

Churchwardens' Accounts show that Taylor's bill for the bells and fittings was £105, while the ring of five bells needed a new oak frame which was made for £25 15s. 6d. This 1842 oak frame was constructed by carpenters Thomas and William Attwood of Cherington, sons of Richard and Anne At(t)wood. They appear in the last two entries of the 1841 census enumeration, therefore undoubtedly living next door to each other. In the 1851 census, when Thomas and William each had two men working for them, their ages were given as 66 and 62; Thomas had been baptised in Cherington on 12 April 1784, and William on 27 July 1788.

Ringing customs in Cherington

There is a record that, on 2 March 1842:

                At a Vestry Meeting held this day at the house of Mr Timms by adjournment from the Church it was resolved

   That the new Bells now put up in the Church, the following ringers be appointed; Thomas Jarrett, Joseph Jarrett, William Clarke the     older, William    Clarke the younger, Thomas Rainbow, Stephen Jarrett and Thomas Holtom.

   That the ringers be expected to chime for Church and that no other persons besides the regular Ringers be allowed to touch the Bells.

   That the Bells begin to chime half an hour before church time.

   That the Bells be chimed for twenty minutes and the single bell be rung for ten minutes.

   That the clock be kept according to Shipston time and that William Clarke have the care of the clock.                                William Dickins

It is reasonable to assume that the Church's first clock was also installed m 1842. The reference to “Shipston time” is because there was no national standard for time For instance, Oxford was five minutes behind London; and services at Christ Church Cathedral still begin five minutes after GMT. A new clock, made by Evans of Handsworth, was installed in 1876. The hours are struck on the tenor bell.

The following is on record in 1879:


On Sundays one bell rung at 8 a.m., two at 9 a.m.("Mattins and Mass Bells"). For services, bells chimed for five minutes, then Sermon Bell for ten (except on Sacrament Sundays"), chime for ten minutes, and toll in on treble for five.


A bell is rung for five minutes after Morning Service. Ringing on Festivals, and two or three times weekly from November to Christmas; also for Weddings by request.

Death-knell as soon as notice is given; usual tellers. At Funerals the "Inviting Bell" is rung two hours previously to give notice to bearers (as at Tysoe); tolling for half-an-hour before the ceremony, and again afterwards. A bell is rung for Vestry or Parish Meetings.

Cherington's traditional death-knell is not recorded. Richard Russell (op.cit.) writes, "I tolled elsewhere on my father's death, and the custom in that church was six tolls for a man; five for a woman; three for a child; one for each year of the person's life; and then six, or five, or three."

Writing in 1934 in her Little History of Cherington and Stourton, Margaret Dickins noted that:

The Cherington bells are rung as follows:

At 8 a.m. on Sundays a bell is chimed for five minutes to give notice that there will be Service at 11, and it is rung again at 9 a.m. to notify an evening service. After Morning Service a bell is again chimed. The local explanation of this is that it is to warn the housekeepers to have dinner ready, It is more probably a Post Reformation practice to let people know that a sermon will be preached at the next Service. (At Hook Norton, in the next county, a bell is still always rung before a Service at which a Sermon is preached).

The Cherington bells always ring a peal on November 5th, in remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot; at 5 a.m. on S. Thomas’ Day; and at midnight on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. An old custom, now extinct, was that of ringing a peal when a couple was “out asked,” their Banns having been read for the third time. This peal was rung after the Morning Service.









Inscription on bell (*) see note

(+) also name of founders & date





2' 0¼"


Taylors Earle & Smith, Loughborough, Leicestershire.

(successors to Taylor below)

Paul Marriott of Cherington

gave me 2006 (+)

Gift of the tower captain.




2' 1½"



W. & J. Taylor, Oxford

Recast by Taylors Earle & Smith

E:Timms C Warden (+) (*)

Recast for the centenary of the Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers 2007.

* facsimile of original inscription. See below.




2' 2½"


W. & J. Taylor, Oxford

Edwd Timms C: Warden (+)




2' 4¼"


Henry Bagley III, Witney, Oxon

William Dickings Nicklis Holtom Thomas Attwood CW HB MA ME(*)

* Holtom & Attwood were the Churchwardens.

Henry Bagley made me.




2' 6¼"


Henry Bagley III, Witney, Oxon

W Dickings N Holtom T Attwood Churchwardens

H Bagley made me

The 4th & 5th bells have "1742" on the crown.




2' 8½"


W. & J. Taylor, Oxford

The Revd. Power Turner Rector

Edwd. Timms C: Warden 1842

Note is B-46 cents (see below). Probably a recast version of the Bagley tenor of 1742.

The bells of the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Cherington

#top Church bells (3)