Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

  1. TOC
  2. back
  3. next

Tower of the Quarter — St Peter's, Willersey, Glos.

(Photo: Chris Povey)

There has been Christian activity in Willersey at least as far back as the 8th century, when King Offa (of Dyke fame) presented the Abbot of Evesham with "seven manses or farms in Willersei" The Doomsday Book (1084) mentions "a priest with six plow tillages", worth £4 p.a. The abbots of Evesham had Willersey manor house as their summer residence and so took a special interest in the parish church here, which is unusual in this area in being cruciform in plan with a central tower (the Old Church, Broadway, being another notable exception). Abbot Zattan (1379-1418) designed the magnificent pillars, based on those in Evesham Abbey. The present vaulting under the tower is, apparently, an excellent C19th imitation of the original C15th work - and it's well worth seeing. The 1801 Royal Arms of George III can be seen on the south wall of the Nave, but this board incorporates an interesting mistake. In the first quarter, three lions can be seen where there should be two. One wonders whether the artist was dragged off shouting and screaming to a dungeon in the Tower of London!

Please do not fail to see the name of Squadron Leader Henry Maudslay DFC on the War Memorial outside. He was the pilot of Lancaster Z-Zebra in the Dam Busters Raid on 17th May 1943 and was killed on that mission. He lived at Foxhill Manor nearby. (See Memorial)

St Peter's bells are a complete ring of six by Abraham Rudhall I, dated 1712. They are special in being the only complete ring by that founder in Gloucester Diocese, and particularly special in all being maidens (ie never tuned after being broken out of their moulds). As a bonus, they retain their canons. Additionally they don't appear to have been out of the tower since their initial installation, so accurate weights aren't known either! They have just been overhauled by Whites of Appleton. The clappers have been rebushed, the wheels have new soles and shrouds, the slider runners have been renewed and all the pulleys have been refurbished. This is the first major work since 1936, when Mears & Stainbank (now Whitechapel Bell Foundry) rehung the bells in a new steel frame with new fittings. Guild members have a chance to try them out, as an evening practice has been arranged for Saturday August 3rd (see Diary of meetings and events).