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Frampton Cotterell (St Peter)

St Peter, Frampton Cotterell

Name or Dedication: St Peter

Location: Frampton Cotterell, Gloucestershire

Grid Reference: ST667820

The second church on this site was consecrated in July 1315, replacing the previous Saxon building. It was relatively small compared to the height of the tower, as can be seen in a painting hung in the church. The tower originally held a ring of six bells, cast by John Lott I in 1627 and hung in an oak frame. Only the third bell now remains from this time, the others having been recast over the centuries. It is likely that the second bell cracked soon after it was first hung as it was recast by John Lott I in 1632. Parts of the original frame still remain built into the north and south louvres in the belfry, and a section inscribed with the year 1627 is on display in the church porch.

The tower was retained when the church was rebuilt again in 1858. It was probably at this time that the Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus was installed in the ground floor Ringing Room, and although the bells fell into disuse after the 1920s they were still chimed until the 1950s. By the 1960s the belfry was essentially derelict until 1963 when John Taylor & Co. recast the cracked fourth bell (previously cast by Abel Rudhall in 1760 and measuring 39 inches in diameter), removed the canons from the three remaining 18th Century bells and rehung all six with Hastings stays in a new cast iron and steel frame. The Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus was at this time removed, and a new Ringing Room gallery erected in memory of Nancy Webley by her husband Reginald Webley and children George, Peter and Joyce. A brass plaque at the back of the nave, dated Michaelmas 1963, commemorates this gift.

A new clock was also provided when the church was rebuilt in 1858. Built by J.B. Joyce, it is a flat-bed movement that featured Cambridge quarter chimes and an hourly strike. Sadly, when the bells were rehung in 1963 and the movement converted to electric autowinding, it incorporated parts of the chiming and striking trains and the hammers were not transferred to the new bellframe. The clock therefore now only keeps time, its dial being on the south wall of the tower.

The clock movement itself has long been believed to be one of two prototypes for the Great Clock in St Stephen's Tower at the Palace of Westminster (of Big Ben fame). However, the Great Clock was completed in 1854 – four years earlier than this one – although St Stephen's Tower wasn't fully built until 1858, and the Great Clock only became operational in 1859.

Bells hung for full-circle ringing

The bells of St Peter, Frampton Cotterell
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
15-2-21 31¼ inC# Abel Rudhall 1760
26-2-20 33½ inB John Lott I 1632
38-0-11 35¾ inA John Lott I 1627
49-2-23 37¾ inG# John Taylor & Co. 1963
511-1-19 41½ inF# Abel Rudhall 1760
614-1-11 45½ inE William Evans 1754

Source: Bell data from Dove's Guide. Details of previous fourth from "The Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (Revd Henry Thomas Ellacombe, 1881). Further information from Gary Crisp and the Frampton Cotterell Parish website.

Where the exact weight of a bell is known, it is given in the traditional way using the British imperial units of Hundredweight, Quarters and Pounds (cwt-qtr-lb) in which there are 28 pounds in a quarter, four quarters in a hundredweight, and 20 hundredweight in a ton (one hundredweight is equal to approximately 50.8 kilograms). However, if only an approximate or calculated weight is known, it is given to the nearest quarter of a hundredweight.

A bell's diameter is measured across its mouth (open end) at the widest point and is given in inches (to the nearest quarter of an inch), one inch being equal to approximately 2.54 centimetres.