Astley, St Mary the Virgin, Warwickshire

Astley Bells: 5; 8-2-9 in F# Minor
Grid Reference: 140/311894
Postcode: CV10 7QN
District: Coventry
Peals: Felstead Database
Recording:
Practice Night: None
Service Ringing: By Arrangement for 3:30pm Service,especially 3rd Sunday
Recommended Pub: There is no pub in the village.   The Admiral Lord Nelson, Birmingham Rd, Ansley, Nuneaton CV10 9PQ. Tel:024 7639 2305 is a 5 minute drive away, or look for a pub near the next/previous tower you are visiting.
Contact: Mrs Janet Meusel, Howe Green Farm, 2 Windmill Lane, Astley, Nuneaton, CV10 7QA Tel: 01676 540385

History

This was once a collegiate church, built in 1343, having a central tower with a tall wooden spire. A landmark in the woodland, it was known as the “Lanthorn of Arden”. After the dissolution in 1545 the church was plundered for its materials and neglected, and this led to the collapse of the tower in about 1600. In 1607-8 Richard Chamberlaine of Astley Castle decided to re-establish it as a parish church. He retained the original chancel as the present nave, adding the west tower (dated 1607 on a now eroded stone on the south-west buttress) and the chancel (1608). The ruins of Astley Castle are nearby.

Unusually, the bells are in the minor key and the rope guides even have a space for the tenor should it ever arrive! However, the spell is broken once you realise the guides were bought second hand and the space in the frame would actually be for a treble. This pit has, at some time, been occupied. However, there is no evidence that shows six ringing bells have ever been hung.

The bells, which are contemporary with the rebuilding of the tower with the tenor subsequently being recast, are hung in a massive old oak frame for six, of slightly doubtful rigidity, but handle quite well. The bells were retuned and rehung with new fittings in the old frame of 1607 by Taylors in 1912. The canons have been removed from all the bells. The treble, second and tenor have been one-eight turned and the third and fourth one quarter turned. The tenor has long been inaccurately quoted as being 8-2-19.

There is also a small clock bell hanging in a wrought iron frame on the floor of the bell chamber, cast by James Barwell & Co. in the late 19th century. It has a diameter of 14 inches, sounds a note flat of G natural, and weighs about ¾cwt. It is sounded by means of a clock hammer.

Entrance is from inside, using the main west door. Parking is limited near to the church, some space is available at the base of the tower.

Details of the Bells
1 Newcombe, Leicester 1607 4-2-00 29.50" 1120.0Hz (C#+16c)
2 Newcombe, Leicester 1607 5-1-06 31.25" 1000.0Hz (B+21c)
3 Newcombe, Leicester 1607 5-2-15 33.00" 892.0Hz (A+23c)
4 Newcombe, Leicester 1607 7-2-06 36.125" 841.5Hz (G#+23c)
5 Joseph Smith, Edgbaston 1722 8-2-19 38.25" 750.0Hz (F#+23c)