Bell Tower

working-on-the-tower-large
Tower maintenance, early 20th century

The Bell Tower
This is of four stages, the belfry stage being exceptionally high, with pairs of corner buttresses added later for stability.

It is over 30m (100’) high and was designed by John Turner in the ‘Gothic Revival’ style and is often described as ‘handsome’ by many sources. It is an outstanding local landmark.
The former medieval church tower, was 8.3m by 7.5m (27’ 2″ by 24’ 5”), and contained five bells cast by Thomas Roberts of, Shrewsbury. They survived the tower’s collapse and today are the sole remaining examples of Robert’s work After the new tower had been built the ring was augmented to six in 1869.
The tower was refurbished in 2010, including the clock faces and the weather cock.

The bells

General layout
General layout

The bells are hung low in the top stage of the tower, the belfry, and the tenor (heaviest bell) is slantwise in the middle as at Ditton Priors Church.
Details of the bells with inscriptions, weights, and notes:

 

 

 

Treble, Mears and Stainbank, Founders, London,1869 260.4kg 5cwt, 141b D#
2 William Medlicot, Nicholas Brockson, Wardens 1891* 304.8kg 6cwt C#
3 William Medlicot, Nicholas Broxton, Wardens, 1681 355.6kg 7cwt B
4 William Medlicot, Nicholas Broxton, Wardens, 1681 508kg 10cwt A#
5 William Medlicot, Nicholas Broxton, Wardens, 1681 508kg 10cwt G#
Tenor William Medlicot, Nicholas Broxton, Wardens, 1681 660.4kg 13cwt F#
*The date on the second is inverted (1891).
Also on the Tenor, on the waist, and cutting into the lines below the other inscription is the inscription:
THO. ROBERTS OF SALOP CAST THESE FIVE
The bells have numerous mouldings and the inscription on the tenor is set low down with the three lines above and below. The clappers in all the bells terminate in double balls. A curfew bell was being rung in Pontesbury from the 5th November until Christmas in the early 19th century, and the unusual custom of tolling 13 times at a man’s funeral and 12 for a woman’s was still observed c. 1900. This custom of tolling on the morning of the event is probably unique, with the number of tolls.
Other customs included ringing on New Year’s Eve at midnight, and also at weddings, confirmations, and special occasions. (These customs have now been re-introduced). Ringing for Sunday Services also took place with chiming at 8:00am after which the day of the month was tolled.

The clock

Clock mechanism by J B Joyce
Clock mechanism by J B Joyce

There was a clock in the tower in 1788, while the present one, made in Whitchurch by J B Joyce, was bought and inserted in 1858. There are faces on the east, south and west sides.

 

 

Clock weights

The drop weights which drive the mechanism
The drop weights which drive the mechanism

To wind the clock for 7 days, the winder will climb 57 narrow steps to the clock room, then wind each of the heavy weights 56 revolutions, better exercise than a morning in the gym!

 

 

Tenor bell

Tenor bell used by the clock to strike the hours
Tenor bell used by the clock to strike the hours

The bell ringers, must always remember to pull the clock chiming mechanism away from the tenor bell before ringing commences, and of course, it is vital to replace the ringer when leaving the ringing floor.