Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

  1. TOC
  2. back
  3. next

Tower of the Quarter

St Peter's, Welford-on-Avon

(Photo: Freda Cleaver)

All that remains of the original Saxon church (1059) is the bowl of the font. It was replaced by the present Norman church (1100-1170) built with typical solid walls, heavy pillars, round arches and narrow windows, which remain in the west wall and tower. The simple carved decoration on the pillars is reflected in the carved arch above the original south door. In 1336 Perpendicular Decorated Gothic windows were installed in the chancel by monks from Tewkesbury Abbey. Those in the north and south aisles were replaced in 1441, while that in the south was decorated outside with carved stone heads of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou.

The main structure of the church has since changed little, but in 1866 substantial alterations were made to the interior, and half-timbered porches were removed from the north and south doorways, the south porch being replaced with the present stone one. In the 1920s a copy of a Benedictine carved screen, by Joseph Northcott, replaced one from the 15th century. In 1924 the east window, a modern version of a Jesse window was installed. The 'trademark' of the designer, Geoffrey Webb, appears in the right-hand corner. The chancel was later re-furbished, with new carved oak choir stalls and the organ (by Henry Hewins of Stratford-upon-Avon). The lich gate was rebuilt at the end of the 20th century to replace the late 14th century original.

A ring of 6 bells was cast by Sanders of Bromsgrove in 1721, replacing an earlier ring of which no details survive, although Welford's bells were said to have celebrated the Battle of Crecy (1346). The interior and roof of the church tower were destroyed in 1884, bringing down these bells and damaging the clock, which had been given in 1660 by Rector Jenkins Bowen. New bells were cast from the old bell-metal in 1885 by James Barwell of Birmingham and the clock replaced. The bells had to be taken down again in 1957, but were re-cast by Taylor's of Loughborough in 1960 to make a new ring of six and installed in a new iron frame designed with space for two extra bells. In 1980 these bells were added, making a ring of 8 in A flat. The tenor weighs 9-3-11 (500 kilos) and is 3 ft. 1½ in. (952 mm) in diameter. The turret for a Sanctus bell remains on the East gable of the nave. The Guild practice is here on Sat May 21st. (see Diary)

Rosemary Cole