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Wotton-under-Edge Branch
Slimbridge (St John the Evangelist)

Name or Dedication: St John the Evangelist

Location: Slimbridge, Gloucestershire

Grid Reference: SO740035

Originally a ring of five cast with canons, the treble and tenor were recast and a further treble added in 1911 by Llewellins & James. The previous treble of the five was cast in 1631, probably by Roger Purdue, its diameter measuring 30 inches, and the previous tenor was cast by Abraham Rudhall I in 1699, its diameter measuring 42 inches. Llewellins & James removed the canons from the remaining three original bells and tuned them, and rehung all six with elm headstocks in a new cast iron frame on RSJs. An Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus was installed in the ground floor Ringing Room, and part of the old oak bellframe was used to build a cabinet that now stands behind the organ and is used to store its music.

All of this took place whilst the church spire was being strengthened. First added to the tower in the 14th Century, the top 15 feet of the spire had to be entirely rebuilt as the capstone had split, and a considerable amount of ivy was also removed from the tower walls. The bells and spire were both rededicated on 4th October 1912.

In 1953 a new Ringing Room gallery was erected with a new doorway built through from the spiral staircase, and the Ellacombe chiming manual was brought up from the ground floor. A pair of glazed gratings, such as would be found in city centre pavements above basement windows, were employed as a bell trapdoor in the gallery floor. However, although one stone rib of the vaulted ceiling above is clearly intended to be removeable, the plaster on either side of it would need to be destroyed to allow the trapdoor to be opened. The bells were rehung on ball bearings and their fittings renovated by John Taylor & Co. in 1962.

The chamber above the Ringing Room is home to a cast iron flatbed clock movement built by Thwaites and Reed of Clerkenwell, London in 1896. Housed in a cupboard some ten feet above the floor and accessible only via a ladder, it features a deadbeat escapement and an unusual count wheel on the striking train. The movement was converted to epicyclic autowinding by Smiths of Derby in the early months of 2007, having previously needed winding daily by hand. The weights originally dropped the full height of the Clock Chamber and fell in one corner, but are now suspended beneath the movement.

The clock strikes the hours on the tenor, the hammer release rope sharing the tenor's bellrope hole, and its dial is directly behind the movement on the west wall of the tower. Should the bells ever need to pass through this chamber the clock movement would most likely need to be removed as it is directly between the trapdoors in the ceiling and the floor.

Bells hung for full-circle ringing

The bells of St John the Evangelist, Slimbridge
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
15-0-00 29½ inD# Llewellins & James 1911
25-2-03 31 inC# Llewellins & James 1911
36-0-00 32½ inB Abraham Rudhall I 1716
46-1-14 34 inA# Abel Rudhall 1742
59-1-00 38 inG# John Rudhall 1827
612-3-00 41 inF# Llewellins & James 1911

Source: All bell data from "Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (Mary Bliss & Frederick Sharpe, 1986). Diameters of the previous treble (of five) and tenor from "The Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (Revd Henry Thomas Ellacombe, 1881).

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.