St Mary’s Bell Tower

Saint Mary’s Church

Bell ringing is an ancient art carried out in almost every town, city and village in the UK. During the reign of James II (1633-1688) bell ringing became fashionable amongst the aristocracy as it provided physical exercise and intellectual stimulation. The first true peal was believed to have been rung on May 2nd 1715 at St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich. There are over 4,000 churches with bells hung for bell ringing, and Colton is home to one of them.

The bell tower at St Mary’s, from ground level to the top of the parapet is thirty six feet high. All of the walls are at least three feet thick. The building shows evidence that part of the tower may have been built in the late Norman period in the 13th Century. The windows are early English in style, and as previously mentioned in the article on the church windows, contain some medieval glass. The inside floor is twelve feet square; the foundations extend two feet beyond the external walls. As such the tower sits on a nineteen foot square foundation.

Saint Mary’s church now has six bells. In 1953 the original four bells were re-hung in a cast iron frame, which replaced the original wooden frame. They were re-dedicated by the Bishop of Lichfield at that time, the Right Reverend A.S. Reeve, on the Sunday before Christmas in 1953. The cast iron frame was installed by John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough. This company is still casting bells today and welcomes visitors. Two more bells were added to the original four as a millennium project. As part of this project the new bells were tuned to match the four existing bells. New inscriptions were also added to them.

The Bells of Saint Mary the Virgin, Colton are as follows:

1. Manufactured Eijsbouts in 2000, weight approximately 3 cwt. Dedicated to Hayley Rider 1971 – 1989. Inscription “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings”.

2. Manufactured Eijsbouts in 2000, weight approximately 3 cwt. Given by Mark LD Bull. Inscription “Thou hast perfected Praise “.

3. Manufactured by John Taylor & Co. 1935, weight approximately 4 cwt. Inscription Taylor Loughborough.

4. Manufactured by George Hedderly in 1791, weight approximately 4 cwt. Inscription “God Save his Church. Fecit 1791 G Hedderly “

5. Manufactured by Daniel Hedderly 1704, weight approximately 7 cwt. Inscription “John Woolums, Nicholas Bamford and W. Burden CW 1704 DH”. John Woolums died in 1726, and Nicholas Bamford 1673 – 1716, both farmed at the Newlands. This is the oldest bell in the tower.

6. Manufactured by C & G Mears 1852, weight approximately 8 cwt. Inscription “Laus Deo C & G Mears Founders London 1852”. This bell was given by Ellen Oldham of Bellamour Lodge in 1852.

The Captain of the Bell Tower is Ken Rider who can give more information on the bells. The ringers meet on a Friday evening at 7-30pm. Anyone is welcome to come along.

Marie Havelock.