Colebrooke Church Bells History

There have been bells ringing at Colebrooke for centuries, in common with many Devon churches. Even a parish church as small as Colebrooke has supported, almost continuously, the numerous small expenses and occasionally large ones involved in keeping a ring of bells in working order. A large number of records survive which demonstrate to us the dedication with which, among all their other duties, our forbears took care of the bells which we still ring today.

Following his father’s Reformation of the Church, Edward VI ordered a survey to be made of the goods of the Church of England. Thus our first glimpse of the bellringing tradition at Colebrooke is contained in the Inventory of Church Goods, dated 1553, currently held in the Public Record Office. In the Hundred of Crediton – “Colebrooke iiij belles yn the towre their”. The date of these bells, their weight and whether they were hung for full circle ringing, sadly we do not know. However, the Parish Accounts from 1597 onwards are liberally sprinkled with items of expenditure for the upkeep of these four bells. At Midsummer 1598, for example, we read of 3s. 4d. Being paid to one John Sparke for providing a bell-rope ( John Sparke was the Parish Constable ).In 1618, we find “Itm. Payed for neayles for the Bells wheles …vjd.” More interesting is the following item. “Payed for expenses of the Ryners ( sic. ) the 5 of November …iiijs.” Ringing on Guy Fawkes Night was a tradition that began, therefore, not many years after King James 1st deliverance, and continued steadily up until the last century. The payment for this service varied from year to year, presumably with the number or experience of the available ringers. From the 4s.. recorded in 1618, it rose to 10s. In 1750. In 1761, however, the Churchwardens passed a resolution not to pay the ringers more than 7s. 6d. in future.

The years 1620 to 1626 saw a large amount of work done on the bells, which were, perhaps, getting difficult to handle. The clapper on the third of the old ring gave problems needing to be mended at a cost of 5s., then replaced (10s. ), the work being done by one Marcus Tozer. Finally, the Churchwardens took the following action: “Item, more payd to the sayd Markus in consideration that hee the sayd Mark shall att all tymes hereafter firmly mayntayne the said Clapper att his own cost during the life of the said Marckes Tozer.” The third needed a new wheel the same year at a cost of 6s and three years later payment was made for “mending of the piggs and the braces” of the same bell.

Several entries in the accounts during those years refer to “Mendyng of the bells collers” ( 1618 ) or “Leather to mend the bell collar .. vjd.” ( 1621 ). Also, in 1620, we read of a ” Bolster for the great bell and for a Hoope for the same .. vjd.” In 1625, a lot more work was done on the bells, including ” Mending of the pish two bell” – nothing too drastic presumably, as the work only cost 6d.. At some stage around this time, the decision was made to replace the bells and to augment the ring to five.

The work was given to the Exeter bellfounder, Thomas Pennington. In the summer of 1627, the four bells were removed from the tower and transported, probably by ox cart, to Exeter. The actual place of casting cannot be pinpointed precisely. Pennington had a foundry at Paul Street in Exeter, but excavations of the site in 1980-1, before the building of the Habitat store and the subsequent development in that area revealed that before 1656 only small artefacts were manufactured there – pots, pans and the like. The capacity of the furnace was limited by the size of the foundry site, which in turn was determined by the proximity of the site to the city wall: the strip of land immediately within the walls had been kept clear for centuries for purposes of defence. In 1659, however, this was no longer deemed necessary, and Exeter archives record several leases made by businesses of these strips of land at the end of their premises. The excavations mentioned above-discovered bell pits dating from this period.

In 1627, therefore, the casting of the Colebrooke bells would have been done in Paul Street. There are references to bells from Woodbury and St. Peter’s Tiverton being brought to “the casting place outside Northgate,” so this may be a possible venue for the Colebrooke casting. It is interesting to note that over two hundred years later, in 1851. according to Pearson’s book on the church bells of Devon, William Pannell (who had taken over Bilbie’s of Cullompton) set up a foundry in Longbrook Street and the proximity of this to present-day Northernhay makes us wonder whether this may have been the same site as Penningtons casting place.

The present 4th at Colebrooke, showing Pennington’s name and the coin impresses. 

Thomas Pennington opened his foundry in about 1625, so the Colebrooke bells were quite early examples of his work on this site. Before this, the main foundry in Exeter was Birdall’s of St. Thomas ( excavated in 1984 before the construction of the library in St. Thomas ), but this had closed in 1624 with the death of Thomas Birdall.

The method of casting bells in England had undergone a fundamental change during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Evidence of medieval casting techniques was discovered under the tower of St. Mary Major Church in Cathedral Yard. These casting pits, dating from the 12th. Century and excavated in 1971, revealed the use of tallow moulds as opposed to clay moulds, which were later preferred. On this site, the mould was built up outside the pit and then lowered in, a laborious process later replaced by the much more sensible one of building the mould in the pit. The best of both worlds was achieved ultimately, and moulds of clay were built in the casting pit. Remains from the Pennington and Birdall foundries show annular foundations of stone in the pits onto which the clay mould was built. This would have been the method used by Pennington for the Colebrooke bells.

The Parish accounts for 1627 detail the sums of money paid for all the tasks involved in casting and augmenting the ring of bells from four to five. We see Marcus Tozer’s name again for “mendinge the Bell-clapers and collers”. The sum of £1 15s. 4d. was paid for “carriage of the Bells to Exeter and Backe againe”. “Extra tin” was needed to make up the weight, 60 pounds of it, and “Tynn glasse”. According to George Elphick in ” Craft of the Bellfounder”, tin was added at a rate of one pound per hundredweight of metal. Rev. Ellacombe was dogmatic on the subject of bell metal: three parts copper to one of tin was generally the ratio, according to his paper delivered to the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society on June 7th. 1866, though he felt that a ratio of 2;1 was preferable.

The men who worked on the bells certainly did not go hungry, nor indeed would thirst have been a problem, judging by the amount of “Bread and Beare” and “meat and drincke” paid for by the church. New headstocks were made and, as large amounts of timber were purchased, presumably a new frame was built. The most interesting entry is, of course, the payment to Thomas Pennington himself: “pd. To Mr. Pennington …. £16 1s. 0d.” Some of the money – £5 13s. 9d. – was raised by voluntary subscription which was traditionally the responsibility of the young men of the parish.

Of this new ring of five, the fourth bell of the current ring is a survivor, testament to Pennington’s craft. It was decorated, as was Pennington’s style, with a frieze of fleurs-de-lys, and was impressed with a penny from the reign in which it was cast, that of Charles I. Pennington often cast his full name on to his bells to distinguish his work from that of his rival, Thomas Purdue, who tended to use his initials. It is thought that Pennington’s custom of impressing a penny on the mould was a pun on his own name. The inscription on the 4th bell reads “Thomas Pennington New Caste Us Fyve the xx of July 1627”.

It is interesting to compare the Pennington bells at Colebrooke to their grander cousins hung in Exeter Cathedral. Thomas Pennington was commissioned in 1625 to recast three of the Cathedral bells, namely “Pongamouth,” “Oldham” and “Grandisson” – respectively the 2nd 7th and tenor of the present Mixolydian Eight. The work, seemingly, did not take place until 1630, and of these three bells, only ” Pongamouth” survives today in Pennington’s casting, (2000), the other two having to be recast again in 1729 by William Evans. “Grandison” was subsequently recast in 1902 by Taylor’s. “Pongamouth” bears the same fleur-de-lys frieze as the 4th. Bell at Colebrooke.

The new ring of five at Colebrooke was not without its problems. It was only 37 years before the “leetle bell” needed to be recast, the work being done by “Mr. Penitant” This was John Pennington, Thomas’s brother, who also cast the bells for St. Mary Steps Church, Exeter. The new work which had to be set in train was in spite of great care taken to keep the bells in good repair, as witnessed by a contract made in 1654 between the churchwarden, John Yonge and one Henry Martyn. By this contract, Henry Martyn was to have the annual payment of fifteen shillings … “for keepinge the bels and the promiseth for the sayd summe to keepe them wel repayred”. This contract was to last until 1673, but more work was needed in 1676, and instead of returning to the local bell foundry, Pennington’s, the Colebrooke churchwardens took the business to the Somerset establishment of Thomas Purdue.

There seems to have been a certain amount of rivalry between the foundries of Pennington and Purdue. Thomas Purdue was based at Closworth in Somerset, where he was buried on his death at over 90 years of age. As luck would have it, he brought his equipment down to Exeter in 1676 to do some major work on the Cathedral bells and while he was there, he undertook to do this work for Colebrooke. Purdue’s contract with the Dean and Chapter was to recast “Cobthorne”, “Stafford” and “Grandisson”, …. respectively the 9th., 11th. and tenor of the major twelve. He also had to add another 6th. as an alternative to “Pongamouth” the flat 6th.. and to recast the great bell “Peter”. The work he did for Colebrooke, which the Churchwardens’ Accounts show to have been carried out in Exeter, was to recast again the troublesome treble of the five (the 2nd. of the present ring). We can assume with a fair degree of confidence, that this work was done in Cathedral Yard.

The accounts give us a fair picture of all the activity that went on, in and out of the tower. Four men and seven horses were sent .. “to fech the timber to Coleford,” this timber being .. “to use about the bells and planking”. The timber itself cost £4 4s. 0d., quite an expense. There are several other interesting entries concerning the recasting: ” It. pd. For carring of the bell to Exon and feching of him home againe .. £2 0s. 0d.” “It. pd. For waying of the bell before it was cast .. 5s. 0d.” “It. pd. Thomas Purdue for casting of the bell and addition of wight .. £20 6s. 0d.” (Funnily enough, the bells at Colebrooke are still referred to as “he” rather than the feminine pronoun used in many towers).

For all the competition between Purdue and Pennington and the general feeling that Purdue was the master, it is the Pennington 4th. bell that survives at Colebrooke, rather than the Purdue 2nd., which was recast in 1934., (although, as we shall see, it may not have been Purdue’s bell wearing out that necessitated its recasting). A plaque placed in the tower on that occasion records the inscription cast on the 2nd. In 1676 ( no longer there, of course ): “John Yonge, Gent: Will Snell, Wardens 1676”.

A final item in connection with this work is as follows: “It pd. the ringers the 5 of Novembere when Mr. Bevis was heere .. 12s. 0d.” Mr. Bevis was the local bell expert, and presumably, he came to hear the bells rung for Guy Fawkes night to approve the new bell. His name appears in connection with some work done on the bells of South Tawton, when he and Mr. Pennington drank copious amounts of beer paid for by the churchwardens!

The ringers and churchwardens must have been very content with the work done over those fifty years because no further major work was needed for a. number of years. The records show a steady trickle of expenditures on such things as ropes and items paid for general maintenance. The ringers were paid for ringing on many great occasions – for instance in 1704 “Item. Gave the Ringers when the D. Marelburrow (sic) beat ye french .. 5s. 0d.”(Battle of Blenheim) The year 1714 saw the accession of George I and the ringers contributed to the celebrations: “pd. The Ringers at the Crowning of the King .. 5s.0d.” They were also paid for “.. the arrivall or proclaiming the King .. 5s, 0d.” This was only half as much, however, as they received for ringing on November 5th.

The external tower door. The arch of which is anonymously carved “1674” 

The year 1737 saw the next flurry of activity concerning the bells. Mr. Samuel Rowe of Spreyton was contracted to re-hang the five balls in a new oak frame, and the Churchwarden’s accounts record a substantial amount paid out on this occasion: “pd. Samuel Row for Repairing and Hanging the Bells as by his said covenants apeare .. £36 0s. 0d.” On 14th. September, Mr. Rowe had a meeting with William Pidsley, Thomas Southcott and Richard Hole, the churchwardens, at appropriately enough, the sign of the Bell in Colebrooke. The agreement they drew up survives and details the work to be carried out, and the nature of the materials to be used. The frame, wheels and headstocks were to be made of “heart oak” and ” well seasoned dry sound Elm for making the fells and feathering of the said wheels”. The new stays were to be made of iron “In such manner that the Ringers may take them off or on at their wills and pleasures”. Rowe undertook to protect the clock during all the work and it was agreed that he could keep all the old materials from the tower. He also undertook to maintain the bells, for the which service he was to be paid £1 5s. 0d. Yearly on 29th. September for 24 years “.. if the said Samuel shall see fortune to live”. A separate document records the fact that Rowe and one Nathaniel Risdon “Gent. Of Spreyton” bound themselves to maintain the tower.

In 1750, there was a further expense when the 4th. (5th. Of the present ring) needed to be recast. The work was given to Thomas Bilbie of Cullompton for a change. Pennington’s Paul Street foundry had closed in 1720 on the death of the last Thomas Pennington. One of the last bells he cast was in that year for Ide Church. Bilbie was, therefore, the nearest available founder. There was a Cornish Pennington advertising earlier in the century, though his foundry does not appear to have lasted long. Wroth of Wellington was a little further afield. Evans of Chepstow did some work for the Cathedral in 1729, and an interesting record survives in the Cathedral archives of the meeting between Evans and the Chapter. He tried to obtain tenure of his working site in Exeter for three years. Presumably to make the effort of setting up a temporary foundry more worthwhile by attracting other contracts, but permission was refused.

Bilbie just had the one bell to deal with. The bell was removed to Cullompton rather than Bilbie setting up a foundry at Colebrooke. Before it was melted down, the bell was weighed and the weight noted as 12 cwt. 8lb. 1oz. The Churchwardens’ Accounts note the expenses of 3s. 6d. For one Thomas Westhaks ( sic.) who rode to Cullompton to watch the bell being weighed. After casting, it was slightly lighter at 12 cwt. 7lb. 7oz. Thomas Bilbie was paid £15 5s 0d. for his work, but the churchwardens were careful enough to withhold the last £5, which was to be paid on 7th. June 1751 if the bell remained sound and in tune.

In 1764, it is recorded that four raised seats were built at the back of the church with steps from the seats to the belfry. These steps and seats no longer exist, having been demolished in the 19th. Century.

The churchwardens must have been satisfied with Bilbie’s work because, in 1787, his services were requested again. This time it was the tenor that needed attention, and Bilbie removed and recast it.

Another long period ensued when little except routine maintenance was needed for the five bells of mixed pedigree. Of the Pennington five. Only the 2nd. and 3rd. ( 3rd. And 4th. Or the present ring ) remained in his casting at this point, and it was the 2nd.. that needed attention next. The work was given to a firm not long established in Exeter, that of Charles Pannell.

Pannell’s father, William, had originally been a tin-man but had bought Bilbie’s business in Cullompton. Charles Pannell had been apprenticed to Warner’s Bellfoundry at Cripplegate and had come back to Devon to succeed his father. He had removed the foundry to Exeter in about 1851 and established himself in Longbrook Street – on the site of Pennington‘s casting place perhaps? The foundry was not open long and shut down only a year after his work for Colebrooke, that is, in 1855.

We find several entries in the accounts relating to Mr. Pannell’s contract, and the local assistance gave him in his work;

“Paid for agreement stamp to bind Mr. Pannell in respect of recasting the 2nd. Bell … 2s. 6d.” “Paid Mr. J. Lee as per Bill for the carriage of 2nd bell too and from Exeter… £1 18s. 1d.” ( Mr. J. Lee was one of the churchwardens whose name appears on the inscription on the bell. )

Another entry records 6s. 0d. paid to one Thomas Gipson for three days‘ work assisting Mr. Pannell about the bell. The most important item is the amount paid for the new bell itself: ” Paid Mr. Pannell of Exeter as per the agreement for recasting the 2nd. bell, besides allowing him to take the old Metal in part of payment … £13 8s. 11d.” Part of the cost of recasting the bell was defrayed by Mr. John Sillifant of Coombe House, a prominent church member, whose contribution of £6 8s. 0d. was received with thanks by the churchwardens. Pannell made a turret bell for the little school at the same time. It seems that no part of the payment was withheld on this occasion from the founder.

The next thirty years or so saw the usual small sums paid out for items connected with the bells: £1 6s. 10d. paid to Robert Jewell in 1880 for repairing ironwork for the bells, and later in that same month of May, 16s. 9d. To T.H. Lee for woodwork to do with the bells. New bell ropes in April of the following year cost 10s. 6d., payable to Henry Rice. Regular payments were also paid to the “chimers”.

1887 was the Golden Jubilee year of Queen Victoria and all over the country parish, churches celebrated this splendid and virtually unique occasion by looking to their bells. At that time only Henry 111, Edward 111 and George 111 had reigned longer than 50 years, and Victoria, of course, was to outstrip them all by surviving yet another thirteen years. (This record has now been surpassed by our present Queen Elizabeth 2nd ). In 1887 Colebrooke was fortunate to have among its parishioners a family interested in the bells and well-to-do enough to help pay for their continued maintenance. The family was the Sillifant family, who have already appeared in this account, and so due to the generosity of Mr. A.O. Sillifant, in 1887, Colebrooke’s ring was augmented from five bells to the present six.

The plaque in the tower, which commemorates this event, states that a new tenor and a new treble were given, but this is slightly misleading. The treble was new, but the tenor was recast, as recorded by the inscription on the bell itself. The work was done by Warner of Cripplegate, the foundry which had cast Big Ben earlier in the century.

The tenor recast in 1887 by Warner. 

The Churchwardens’ Accounts make no mention of the work, so we must assume that the contract was privately made between Mr. Sillifant and Warner’s. A special service was held on 15th. June 1887 for the re-dedication of the bells. A copy of the Order of Service is kept at the County Records Office in Exeter, and some of the fine prayers remind us unequivocally of the purpose for which the bells are rung: “Grant O Lord, that they who with their outward ears shall hear the sound of these bells may be aroused inwardly in their spirits and draw nigh unto Thee, the God of their salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”. The ringers who rang the six after their re-dedication are named as the following:-

1. W. T. Leamon. (Stationmaster Copplestone)

2. H. Ellis. (Thatcher Colebrooke)

3. J. Willcocks. (Farmer Coleford)

4. J. Ellis (Thatcher Coleford)

5. W. Leyman (Farmworker Colebrooke)

6. A. Gregory. (Shepherd Colebrooke)

The names Leaman and Leyman we find often associated with Colebrooke Church at this time. Around 1881, James Leyman received regular payments for blowing the organ. He was also, it seems, the sexton. A brass plaque in the North aisle was put up in memory of Charles G. Leamam. A Lance Corporal in the 2nd. Devons, who was killed in the 1914-19 War. The name W. Leyman seen above appears on the oldest surviving competition certificate in the tower, dated 10th. June 1939, when Colebrooke came second in the Cadbury Deanery Competition held at Down St. Mary just before the outbreak of war.

The story of the church itself now enters rather a gloomy phase. At the induction of the Rev. Isidore Daimpre in 1885, it seems that the church fabric was already getting rather dilapidated. Rev. Daimpre was a colourful character, with a wife many years younger than himself and six sons whose names appear on the Roll of Service board in the church for playing their part in the Great War. He was devoted to his parish church, and wrote a history of it, which includes the following piece of Victorian verse:-

“I have heard bells chiming full many a chime in, Tolling sublime in Cathedral shrine. While at a glib rate brass tongues would relate, But all their music spoke nought to thine”.

Daimpre records how the church bell was rung at 8 am of a Sunday and how the passing bell was rung. He spent a lot of his own money on repairs to the church and sadly, he was declared bankrupt a few years after he became the vicar. He applied for admission to the workhouse in Crediton for himself and his wife and children, but never entered the same.

In 1895, a great deal of work was done in the body of the church to improve the seating arrangements, among other things. The four seats rising back to the belfry were removed and also the West gallery, which enabled the fine tower arch to be opened up. The church was re-opened the same year. The following year, Mrs. F Sillifant gave the reredos, the plans for which can be seen in the County Records Office. It was to be in memory of her late husband Francis Synge Sillifant and carried the unusual proviso that she was to be portrayed as the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her husband was to appear as one of the Apostles.

By 1912, the tower itself was unsafe. Plans were set in motion to raise money to have the necessary work done. A letter to Isidore Daimpre from one S. Calmady-Hamlyn of Bridestowe offers £5 to help set the ball rolling. However, the fundraising effort did not get underway until 1925, when the churchwarden, Mr. Jack Pope, got his teeth into the matter.

An account was opened at the bank of Messrs. Fox, Fowler & Co. ( later Lloyds ) in Exeter. Only one transaction was recorded in the account: a deposit of eleven guineas. The account was closed in the same year, having accrued interest of 5s. 3d. The Exeter architect W. Harbottle Reed was commissioned to come and view the tower, and he opined that the pinnacles, windows and pointing were all in a bad state. Mr. Jack Pope had hand-bills printed, and letters asking for help in the fund-raising were sent out all over the country – some even further afield – to anyone who had any connection with Colebrooke Church, however tenuous. A remarkable number of replies still survive, including several charming letters to Mr. Pope from John Sillifant, ( a cousin of the previously mentioned A O Sillifant) who had recently removed to Adelaide, South Australia. He promised £100 to the tower restoration fund, though his solicitor, Mr. Ford of Southernhay, was somewhat tardy in releasing the money. Mr. Sillifant proudly mentions his two motor cars, one of which is a Sunbeam, and writes wistfully how he “… should love to be with you once again & have a yarn & smoke in your den”.

Back in England, the fund-raising progressed apace. A dance at Colebrooke School in January 1925 bed ruined £4. 6s. 3d. A list of subscribers was published. And among the names, we see a Mrs. E. Enderson, who contributed a shilling, and a Mrs. A. Enderson, who was able to give one pound. One firm of solicitors approached by Mr. Pope for a contribution agreed to donate on condition that their name did not appear on the list of subscribers for fear of being asked for some kind of favour by other fund-raising committees.

The South Face of the tower. 

The money was paid to Hr. Harbottle Reed in instalments, and the following year, the work was completed. The Western Times and the Devon and Exeter Gazette newspapers both of February 5th 1926 record the re-dedication service, and the celebrations which followed. There is also a plaque at the back of the South aisle of the church which reads:-

“The tower, pinnacles and bell-chamber windows were restored by public subscription 1925-1926. H. Cowper Pratt – Vicar. R.C.Brook & J.M. Pope – Churchwardens”.

Rev. H. Cowper Pratt was another clergyman very active in the preservation of the church fabric. In 1934, it was decided that the bells needed attention and a fair amount of attention at that. The foundry contacted on this occasion was that of Mears and Stainbank in London, whose estimate for the work required is preserved in both handwritten and typed copies. The typed estimate is dated 8th. February 1934, and gives very detailed specifications of the work to be carried out. All the bells, headstocks and wheels were to be removed from the tower, and the headstocks and wheels sent to the foundry for attention. A new headstock was to be made for the 2nd. Bell, and new wrought iron clappers for the 2nd. And 5th. New floor pulleys were to be installed in the bell chamber and a second set on the floor of the clock chamber. The chiming mechanism was to be overhauled and new cords and rubber handpieces fitted. The 2nd. and 5th. Belle were to be quarter-turned and all six were to be fitted with new steel gudgeons and re-hung on “totally enclosed se1f~lubricating and self-aligning double row ball bearings fitted with grease caps”.

There is a plaque in the tower which states ” The six bells were re-hung with ball bearings and the second and fifth bells were recast in 1934 by Mears and Stainbank”. The estimate from Mears and Stainbank, which totals £104 0s. 0d., does not make any mention of recasting any of the bells. However, the flagstones on the floor of the ringing chamber are broken where one of the bells (current 2nd.) was dropped as it was being lowered from the bell chamber. As there are specific clauses in the contract concerning damage caused by the foundry’s employees and an undertaking to leave the bells “in perfect running order” it is perhaps reasonable to assume that an accident did occur and that the 2nd. or the 5th. or both had to be recast at the expense of Mears and Stainbank. Colebrooke Church does not appear to have had to pay for that work. Mears and Stainbank later became the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, but although their records go back to this time, unfortunately, they have no correspondence relating to the accident.

A Diocesan Faculty was applied for in March 1934 for the re-hanging of the bells. And it was agreed to in May 1935 by the Rt, Rev. William Cecil, Bishop of Exeter ( who, incidentally, died the following year.) By the time it was approved, the work had already been done and paid for by public subscription.

The crowded bell chamber, showing the wheels of the front five bells. 

This is the latest time to date that major work has been done on Colebrooke bells. Despite their mixed pedigree. They still sound fine and the 17 cwt. Tenor falls nicely into the 16-25 cwt. bracket prescribed by Rev. Ellacombe as the ideal weight for the tenor of a ring of six bells. Ringing seems to have continued steadily for many, many years, as witnessed by the competition certificates displayed in the tower, with occasional periods in the doldrums, such as must have occurred when the tower was unsafe round about 1912-26.

The 5th Bell, recast in 1934. by Mears and Stainbank. 

Currently, the bells are rung for Sunday services, and on regular practise nights, and the ringing tradition seems set to continue at Colebrooke, with the enthusiasm of several learners. The “fine tower archway” which was opened up in 1895, has now been boarded up again, primarily for keeping the body of the church warm, but it has also come in useful for displaying the certificates won by Colebrooke ringers in recent years. The art of call-change ringing so strongly maintained in this corner of England will be practised for many years yet to call the faithful to worship in the church on the hill at Colebrooke.

Some of the certificates won by Colebrooke ringers, on display in the tower. 

1. Treble – Cast 1887 – Warner

2. 2nd – Cast 1627 – Pennington

Recast – 1664 – Pennington

Recast – 1676 – Purdue

Recast – 1934 – Mears & Stainbank

3. 3rd – Cast 1627 – Pennington

Recast – 1854 – Pannell

4. 4th – Cast 1627 – Pennington

5. 5th – Cast 1627 – Pennington

Recast – 1751 – Bilbie

Recast – 1934 – Mears & Stainbank

6. Tenor – Cast 1627 – Pennington

Recast – 1787 – Bilbie

Recast – 1887 – Warner


I acknowledge with grateful thanks the help and time given with such enthusiasm and unstinting generosity by Mr. Harold Dart of Colebrooke; Mr. Neville Enderson of Coleford; Mr. Stuart Blaylock of the Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; and Rev. John Scott.

By Margaret B. J. Enderson
© Margaret B. J. Enderson