[Bell Historians] Ancient Bells - Chris Pickford's Spreadsheet

Phil Watts pag.watts at btinternet.com
Sat Dec 11 09:42:14 GMT 2021

Further to recent e-mails and to Chris Pickford’s spreadsheet of ancient
bells, and with reference to the bells listed under Hampshire, the Group may
be interested in recent reflections on three bells within the Winchester
Diocese, two of which do not appear in Chris’s spreadsheet.


Accepting that there will always be some debate about the date of
un-inscribed bells of a particular shape and style, it is possible that
these three bells are all from fourth quarter of the 14th Century:


*	West Tytherley, St. Peter:  The treble here (which is included in
Chris’s list for Hampshire), has long been reputed to date from circa AD
1260.  However, it may be up to a 100 years or so later, given that it is
relatively short waisted but has been skirted, and hence appears to have an
earlier shaped soundbow & lip.  Matthew Higby, who was involved in helping
to satisfactorily clapper this bell, when the ring of three were overhauled
and rehung in 2012, has provided two images showing both the profile and the
skirting of this bell.

*	Bossington, St. James:  This isolated Church set within the parkland
of the Bossington estate in the Test Valley was rebuilt in 1839, but the
single bell in a cote over the chancel arch appears to be much older than
the “modern” date given by Colchester in Hampshire Church Bells.  This bell
(diameter 23.88” and weighing circa 2½ cwts),  was rehung by Matthew Higby
in 2009, and he has also provided an image of this bell, photographed on
completion of the rehanging.

This bell has similarities in appearance to a smaller bell at:

*	Valley Park (Chandler’s Ford) St. Francis:   This church was built
in 1991, but was gifted a “spare” bell by Colden Common church.
Notwithstanding that Holy Trinity Church, Colden Common was built in 1843,
it appears that this bell was already at least second hand when gifted to
Valley Park, as the oak headstock on which it was hung when gifted has a
date of 1810 roughly carved into it and has drive-in gudgeons, crude stock
hoops and nailed shere bands for strapwork.  
In 2017, when re-staining of adjacent timber soffits enabled access to this
bell, I was able to photograph it close up and an estimated date was
provided by Chris Pickford from these photographs as AD 1380.  
The attached image for this bell is a composite of two photographs as the
scaffolding from which they were taken did not permit sufficient distance to
capture the whole bell in one shot.  The bell has a diameter of 13.25” and
weighs around 0-1-12.


Albeit that they are of significantly different sizes, there are
similarities in the profiles and in the shape of canons of the bells at
Bossington and Valley Park, which would suggest that the Bossington bell
might also be from around 1380.


Debate and views always welcome.


Phil Watts

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