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Bristol Rural Branch
Westerleigh (St James the Great)

St James the Great, Westerleigh

Name or Dedication: St James the Great

Location: Westerleigh, Gloucestershire

Grid Reference: ST699796

The previous third bell was cast in 1761, and the previous treble – the gift of St John Astry, Esquire – was cast in 1702. All the bells were cast with canons except for the present third, which has a Doncaster crown. The canons were removed from all but the fifth bell when the treble was recast (without canons) and all the bells rehung with Hastings stays in a new cast iron and steel frame by John Taylor & Co. in 1932, through the generosity of Revd R. Stevens and Miss E.C. Stevens.

A door from the first floor Ringing Room opens out onto the west gallery of the nave. Built in the 18th Century, the gallery incorporates panelling from 1638 and presumably survived the fire that led to the chancel arch being rebuilt in 1895–6. There is no other access to the gallery, which is intriguing considering the only access to the Ringing Room is via a steep ladder and trapdoor, there being no doorway to either from the tower's spiral staircase.

A weight-driven birdcage clock is on a platform high above the floor of the chamber above the first floor Ringing Room, directly behind the dial on the north wall of the tower. It strikes the hours on the tenor, and its long pendulum swings halfway between the platform and the floor. The original clock weights dropped to the floor of the Ringing Room below and had to be wound weekly by hand, but in around 2002 a pair of Huygens Auto Winders were installed by A.J. Nicholls of Bristol. The new weights now only drop to the platform.

Bells hung for full-circle ringing

The bells of St James the Great, Westerleigh
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
16-2-08 32 inC John Taylor & Co. 1932
27-0-19 34 inBb Roger Purdue I 1616
38-2-21 38 inAb Mears & Stainbank 1901
49-3-14 39½ inG Bristol Foundry c.1480
515-3-06 46 inF Bristol Foundry c.1480
620-2-01 50½ inEb Abel Rudhall 1754

Source: Inspected personally 5th April 2006. Details of the bells and clock from Martin Blanchard, Bryan Hardwick and a document in Westerleigh Ringing Room. Further information from ChurchCrawler (Phil M. Draper).

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.