Lost Towers

Coventry, St John the Baptist, West Midlands

Coventry SJB Bells: 5, 9-3-21 in A
Grid Reference/Maps: 140/330790
Postcode: CV1 3AY
District: Coventry
Peals: None
Recording of the chime
Date Lost: 1889
Other Information: Church Website

This is a prominent red sandstone church with a central tower on Corporation Street, near to the mediaeval Spon Street. This fine cruciform church was originally built as a chapel for one of the City Guilds on land given by Queen Isabella in 1344. It was consecrated in 1350 but the original building was substantially enlarged and rebuilt in the C15th and early C16th. After Bablake College was dissolved in 1548 the building became the property of the City. It did not become a parish church until 1734. It is very much in the “High Church” tradition.  It is the origin of the phrase “Being sent to Coventry” as is was used as a prison for Scottish Royalists in the Civil War. The prisoners were allowed to wander inside the city walls, but the locals refused to speak to them, hence the phrase.

The bells were hung for ringing until the latter part of the 19th century. The chime contains one of the former ring of 8 from St Michael’s, now the Cathedral. St John’s tenor bell was cracked and it was swapped in 1774 for one of the ring going from St Michael’s to Lester and Pack for recasting into 10. The weight given is as supplied to St Michael in 1675. The bells were rehung in 1774 and 1825. They were probably never rung after the lantern tower was opened up during the 1858 restoration

The bells are now hung for chiming in the remains of a C17th bellframe, part of which was removed to accommodate the clock in 1889. The bells are chimed by Ellacombe hammers from a chiming manual on the ringing gallery. They are still hung from their old ringing headstocks, but without wheels, stays or sliders. They still retain their clappers.

Details of the Bells
1 Henry Bagley I, Chacombe 1676 4cwt
2 Pack & Chapman, London 1778 4¾cwt
3 John Hose, Leicester c1350 5¼cwt
4 John of Stafford, Leicester c1360 8cwt
5 Henry Bagley I, Chacombe 1675 9-3-21

Coventry, Holy Trinity, West Midlands

Coventry HT Bells: 8, 23-1-15 in Eb
Grid Reference/Map: 140/333786
Postcode: CV1 5EX
District: Coventry
Peals: Felstead Database
Date Lost 1966/67
Other Information: Church Website

Coventry’s power split in medieval times is really demonstrated here. This church all but shares a churchyard with the St Michael’s church, now the Cathedral. This is because Coventry used to be split into two power bases, the Crown and the Earl. The boundary line was between the two churches.

The church dates from the 12th century and is the only Medieval church in Coventry which is still complete.  It is 59 metres (194 feet) long, and has a spire 72 metres (237 feet) high. The church was restored in 1665–1668, and the tower was recased in 1826 by Thomas Rickman. The east end was rebuilt in 1786 and the west front by Richard Charles Hussey in 1843. Holy Trinity was “Gilbert Scotted” during the restoration of the 1850s, in that the central tower’s floors were removed to let more light into the building. The bells therefore could no longer remain in that tower.

There were six bells until 1776 when Pack & Chapman provided a new ring of eight, tenor 20-0-18. Six peals rung on the bells (including one of 10,128 in 1787) between 1776 and 1807. The bells, with the front 7 recast, were hung in a wooden campanile to the side of the church in 1856, the tenor subsequently being recast in 1898). This tower was never strong enough to hold a ringing peal and they were little rung. However, Chris Pickford has found a report of some ringing on the front 6 in the latter part of the 19th century.

The tower was taken down in 1966/7, partly to provide space for a church hall, it being subsequently demolished to open up the ruins of the Priory. After a decade of storage at Taylor’s foundry, the bells were sold to Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand for the value of the metal and then incorporated into their new ring of 12.

For a full account of the history please see Chris Pickford’s article in The Ringing World dated 22 May 1987.

Details of the Bells
1 C. & G. Mears, Whitechapel 1856 6-1-06
2 C. & G. Mears, Whitechapel 1856 6-3-14
3 C. & G. Mears, Whitechapel 1856 7-1-20
4 C. & G. Mears, Whitechapel 1856 8-1-03
5 C. & G. Mears, Whitechapel 1856 10-0-08
6 C. & G. Mears, Whitechapel 1856 11-2-21
7 C. & G. Mears, Whitechapel 1856 13-2-17
8 John Taylor & Co., Loughborough 1898 23-1-15

Hampton Lucy, St Peter, Warwickshire

Hampton Lucy Bells: 5 8cwt
Grid Reference/Map: 151/257570
Postcode: CV35 8BE
District: Warwick
Peals: None
Date Lost: 1822

The old church was demolished in 1822 to make way for the present building, and this very grand church was completed in 1826. It is interesting as being one of the earliest and best examples of the work of the 19th-century ‘Gothic revivalists’. It was designed by T. Rickman and consists of a chancel, nave with a clearstory, north and south aisles, north porch, and west tower. In 1858 the east end was remodelled by Sir Gilbert Scott, who provided the chancel with an apsidal end: he also refurnished the church. The medieval church, which stood ‘not exactly on the same site’ as the present building, was completely demolished in 1826.

This is a little-known lost ring, as the former ring of five here was last rung in about 1822. The three old bells at Hampton Lucy were recast in 1672-3 by Richard Keene of Woodstock who added two bells to make a ring of five, at a cost of £104 14s. 7d., of which nearly half was contributed by the rector, John Rogers.. The tenor is believed to have weighed about 8 cwt. The single bell now in the tower was cast by Thomas Mears in 1826. It is a large bell in F, weighing 17-0-9. It was intended as the tenor of a future ring of eight, but neither the other bells – nor the necessary framework – were ever installed.

Details of the Bells
1  Richard Keene, Woodstock 1672/3
2  Richard Keene, Woodstock 1672/3
3  Richard Keene, Woodstock 1672/3
4  Richard Keene, Woodstock 1672/3
5  Richard Keene, Woodstock 1672/3 8cwt

Upper Shuckburgh, St John the Baptist, Warwickshire

Upper Shuckburgh Bells: 4, 6½cwt in A
Grid Reference/Map: 139/160867
Postcode: NN11 6DS
District: Warwick
Peals: None
Date Lost 1999

The church is in the grounds of Shuckburgh hall. The lower stage of the tower is 13th century and the upper two stages are 18th century. The rest of the church was largely rebuilt in Victorian times.

Originally installed as a ring of four by William Watson of Napton in 1864, but Taylors replaced the fittings of the two larger bells in 1874. The bells were converted to a chime in 1999 by Andrew Nicholson, who overhauled the headstocks and ironwork and fitted trigger action Ellacombe chiming hammers. The work involved the removal of all old cast-in crown staples with the bells remaining in the tower, hanging the bells dead for stationary chiming using trigger action Ellacombe hammers in conjunction with a new oak chiming frame and undertaking a full restoration of the turret clock which had been out of use for very many years, the clock being arranged to strike the hours upon the tenor bell as well as driving the external dial.

This church is very unusual in that it is a “Peculiar” and is owned by the local landowner, rather than by the Church of England.

Details of the Bells
1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1864 4-0-24
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1864 4-2-00
3 Henry Bagley I, Chacombe 1640 5¼cwt
4 Henry Bagley I, Chacombe 1651 6½cwt

Warwick, All Saints, Emscote, Warwickshire

Emscote in 1860 Bells: 8, 16-1-18 in F#
Grid Reference/Map: 151/296658
Postcode: CV34 5Nl
District: Warwick
Peals: Felstead Database
Date Lost: 1967
Other Information: Church Website

The tower and spire here were added in 1872 to the original church of 1854-6. It was paid for by Miss Marianne Philips of Leamington. Miss Philips also gave the bells, six in 1876 and two more in 1885. The bells were rung from the ground floor and hung in a three tier frame, with nos 1 and 4 on top, 2, 3 5 and 6 in the middle, and 7 and 8 below. Eight peals were rung here between 1886 and 1910, 4 of Stedman Triples, 3 of Grandsire Triples and one of Plain Bob Major.

The tower was said to have been weakened by bomb damage in the air raids which devastated Coventry in November 1940 and the bells were little rung after World War II. The bells were taken down in 1967 and sold to Taylors for scrap. The church was demolished in 1968 – the tower initially “surviving” an attempt to blow it up.  The bells were taken to Loughborough to be stored, “Until a decision is taken about their future”. An article in the Coventry Evening Telegraph at the time states that the churchwardens had appealed for £2000 in 1922 for urgent repairs to the tower, which was in danger of serious damage every time the bells were rung – this amount was never raised. The article further states that Taylors advised in 1948 that is was “a waste of time re-hanging the bells”. Finally it says that Mr King, churchwarden and chairman of the project committee, says that bells would be installed in the new church, but whether it would be a peel (sic) of eight depended on the architects. There are no bells installed in the new church – which is shown in the main picture.

Details of the Bells
1 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1885 4-1-19 26.25″
2 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1885 4-1-11 27.00″
3 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1876 5-2-05 29.50″
4 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1876 5-3-25 31.50″
5 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1876 7-3-04 34.50″
6 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1876 8-3-14 36.25″
7 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1876 10-3-04 39.25″
8 John Taylor & Co, Loughborough 1878 16-1-18 44.375″

Lost Rings of Three

The following towers once held a ringing peal of 3 bells.  More details may be found on the Church Bells of Warwickshire Website

Atherstone on Stour

Baddesley Clinton




Coventry, St Thomas, Longford


Little Packington

Lower Shuckburgh

Moreton Morrell

Old Milverton