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Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project 




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(Posts are in chronological order - most recent first.)

Sunday 20 August 2017 - Project complete!

Dedication of the new Ring of Eight

What a day!  After four years, the installation was complete and the bells dedicated by Rev Margaret MacLachlan at a service attended by our patron, The Viscount Hereford and civic dignitaries. For the bellringers it was a moving occasion - not only because of the hard work that has gone into the project over that time, but with the thought that the installation will ensure the ringing of church bells at Castle Bromwich well into the future. 

July 2017

See our Restoration page for news of how we restored our bell installation between July and August 2017 - with a little help from Taylor's of Loughborough. 

June 2017

Our steeple keeper Stuart is looking for volunteers to help with the installation. Any offers, please contact us via Working under the supervision of Taylor's bellhanger, this is a great way to learn about how bells work first-hand. Installation starts 17 July and should run up to 18 August. You don't have to work full-time! Whatever you can manage will be much appreciated. 

May 2017 

Our new frame is being made at Loughborough 

 and the two new trebles have now been tuned.

Our thanks to St Paul's in the Jewellery Quarter for giving us a temporary home most Wednesdays while we have no bells at Castle Bromwich. It's enabling us to get used to ringing on eight bells, which we will have in August. We grateful to the ringers who have given up their time to help out here.

Castle Bromwich ringers have also practised at Aston, Boldmere, Harborne, Erdington and Yardley and we're grateful to those towers for the welcome we've received there. 

2017 March 21st

We've no bells to show them at the moment, but we told them all about bellringing and where the bells were going to be in August. Great to show St Bernadette's Catholic School round our church and up the tower. 

2017 March 9th

Dismantling begins! See our Restoration page for progress so far . . .  

The date is set!

Taylor's have set the date for dismantling the old frame and removing the bells for a wash and brush-up as 28th February 2017. Exciting! The trustees talked to Simon Adams, a representative of Taylor's on 14 January at Castle Bromwich to discuss the final details.

On Saturday 25 February, work will be carried out to loosen the bells and fixtures and fittings in advance of the removal start date. The bellhanger will be here from Tuesday 28 February to Friday 10 March. We're looking for able-bodied people to help with the labour. Contact us a.s.a.p. if you think you can assist. 

(Left: Steeplekeeper Stuart Stanton has dropped the ropes - no ringing now until August.)

The final ring on 6 before the restoration

 On Sunday 19 February the bells were rung for the Parish Communion service at 9.30 am. At noon a successful Quarter Peal of Bob Doubles was rung by a band of past & present CB ringers, comprising Carol Whitson (former tower captain), 2 James M Stanton (C) (former captain), 3 Daniel Harris (current tower captain), 4 Mathew Williams, 5 Bill Dargue (former captain), 6 Ben Sassons. (1st QP). Then during the afternoon we welcomed past & present ringers as well as visiting ringers for an open ringing session. At 3 o'clock, the old six fell silent.

15 February 2017

Last Wednesday 


This was our last practice before the Bell Restoration begins - with a good turn-out as usual.

Successful Quarter Peal 

by a band of captains and former captains on Saturday, 28 January 2017 in 42 min (10–3–14 in A♭) 1260 Plain Bob Doubles - 1 Dave Reeves  2 Simon Adams  3 Daniel Harris  4 James M Stanton  5 Andrew Ellis (C) 6 Bill Dargue. Penultimate quarter peal prior to the Bell augmentation.

More visitors in January - busy! busy! 

Castle Bromwich Junior School, the 147th Birmingham Brownies and more 237th Birmingham (Thursday) Scouts.

2017 January 19th 

237 Scouts pay us a visit - in the dark!

We had a visit from the Thursday group of the 237 Scouts who climbed the tower in the dark - good job they brought their torches! Another group are also coming to have a ring of the bells next week.

14 January 2017

Quiz Night - back by popular demand

Another full house on Saturday for our very popular Quiz Night. Everyone had a great time and the team scores were very close. Well done to winners, The Magnificent Seven led by one of our bellringers - and commiserations to the winners of the wooden spoon. However, there were only 20 points in it. We have made some profit on the event, but more important to have shared a good time with our supporters. 

October 2016 

First sight of the new bells

Just dug up! The two new Castle Bromwich trebles. The CB Bell Restoration team are feeling proud.

Photos courtesy of Taylor's - - 

The Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project team

From left to right: James Stanton (technical advisor), Stuart Stanton (chair), Dan Harris (tower captain), 

Rev Gavin Douglas OBE (former rector), Bill Dargue (public relations), Jean Willis (treasurer and secretary)

the Viscount Hereford, 16th baronet of Castle Bromwich (patron).

(Sadly our other patron, Lord Bradford was unable to be with us on this occasion.)

and below - our valued supporters!

21 September 2016  What a day!

The bell inscriptions are: 
No.1 Patrons: Richard 7th Earl of Bradford, Lord of the Manor of Castle Bromwich; Robin 19th Viscount Hereford, 16th Baronet of Castle Bromwich; Rector: Revd Gavin Douglas OBE
No.2 CBBRP Trustees: Dan Harris (Tower Captain), Stuart M Stanton, Jean Willis, William Dargue.

They will be hung in February/ March 2017 when the full restoration takes place.


19 September 2016
The finished moulds ready for the drying kiln:


16 September 2016

It's happening! 

The moulds for the two news bells at Castle Bromwich church were being made today! They will be put in the drying stove Monday evening and the lettering applied on Tuesday. 

Photos courtesy of Simon Adams of Taylor & Co, Loughborough Belll Foundry.

September 2016
Visit to Taylor's bell foundry Loughborough

We've arranged a coach to take ringers and other interested folk to watch the casting of our new bells on 21 September. There are just a few places left - get in touch if you'd like to come along. Fare £15.

11 and 18 September 2016
The bellringers manned the church on two Sunday afternoons as part of Birmingham Heritage Weeks. Rather quiet on the first Sunday but on the 18th, with combined tours of Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, Castle Bromwich Hall Hotel and our church and tower, we were busy busy busy with some 150 visitors.

August 2016

Thanks! As a result of local history and bellringing talks (and walks!) by local historian Bill Dargue, the Bell Restoration Project gratefully acknowledges recent donations from North Arden Local History Society, Castle Bromwich Ladies’ Group (St Clement’s church), Acocks Green (St Mary’s) Ladies’ Group, Ward End Townswomen’s Guild, Coleshill U3A, Castle Bromwich U3A, Kingshurst & Shard End Trefoil Guild and members of the Remembrance Club Castle Bromwich. 

Interested? Contact us -

AV system Thanks to a generous grant from the Birmingham Airport Trust we have been able to install an audio-visual system with cameras and microphones in the belfry and bellringing chamber. This will be linked to the screens in church and in the community hall enabling everyone to see the bells and the ringers in action.

July 2016

Taylor's bell foundry at Loughbrough has confirmed 27 October for the casting of our two new treble bells!

BREAKING NEWS! Taylor's have rescheduled the casting to the 21 September. A number of bellringers and other interested folk will be going to Loughborough to witness this historic event.

June 13th - Lucky for some  . . .  

We're there! 

We've just been told by the Heritage Lottery Fund that they have awarded us a grant of £34,500. With more than £60,000 we've raised with the help, support and encouragement of the people below, our Restoration project can go ahead. 

The Trustees of the Bell Restoration Project would very sincerely like to thank all who have supported us so far:

a wide variety of organisations and people, some of whose names are not known to us and some of whom wish to remain anonymous, and our patrons Lord Bradford and the Viscount Hereford, 

Robert Hall of Hall’s Garden Centre, Castle Bromwich and New Oscott, Stephen Clarke 1957 Charitable Trust, Rowlands Trust, GJW Turner Trust, Castle Bromwich Parish Council, Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust, Bernard Piggott Trust, Birmingham Airport Community Trust Fund, Dame Mary Bridgeman Charity Trust and the Earl Bradford’s Castle Bromwich Parochial Charity; 

North Arden Local History Society, St Clement’s (Castle Bromwich) Ladies’ Group, Kings Norton Local History Society, Acocks Green (St Mary’s) Ladies’ Group, Ward End Townswomen’s Guild, Water Orton Local History Society, St Mary & St Margaret’s Mothers’ Union, Coleshill U3A, Castle Bromwich U3A, Kingshurst & Shard End Trefoil Guild, members of the Remembrance Club Castle Bromwich;
and members of the 237th Birmingham (1st Castle Bromwich) Scout Group, 1st Castle Bromwich Guides, Hodge Hill Beaver group, St Wilfred’s Brownies, Castle Vale Cubs, 147th Hodge Hill Brownies and St Philip’s & St James’ Guides and Boys’ Brigade. 

We'll post details of what will happen in the near future. Exciting times!

3 June 2016 Castle Bromwich ringers rang as part of BBC Music Day. 

14 May 

Laying up the Standard of the Royal British Legion Firs Branch

The Firs branch of the British Legion has closed due to lack of numbers and the remaining members brought their standard to be laid up at Castle Bromwich for safekeeping. 

The bells were rung in honour of the Legion at the service which included dignitaries from the Birmingham branches as well as the Mayor of Solihull Councillor Mrs Kate Wild, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham and the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP for this constituency. 

5 May 2016

We rang for the Ascension Day Confirmation Service led by Bishop Anne of Aston - first female bishop to come to Castle Bromwich in its 1000-year history.

She was interested to hear about our Restoration Project when captured by Chris & Dan.

April 2016  

Visit to Taylor's Bell Foundry           

Bill & Stuart visited Taylor's bell foundry in Loughborough to discuss our restoration project. 

Bell founding has hardly changed since the Middle Ages - the moulds are still made of sand, goats' hair and horse muck!

However, computers are used to ensure the harmonics of the bell are tuned to the note at five different places on the bell.

We hope to visiting soon to see our own bells cast here.

April 2016  Ringing for the Queen at 90 and for St George

March 2016

Just waiting to hear if the Heritage Lottery Fund have given us a grant  .  .  .

We've failed in our previous two applications, but have now raised over £60,000 ourselves, so we only some £35,000 from the HLF. Fingers crossed - 3rd time lucky!

January 2016

Bellringers go back to School
Castle Bromwich bell tower had a visit from two organisers of the Birmingham School of Bellringing. Set up in 2013, the School offers the most comprehensive bell training programme in the country. our learners were given the opportunity to improve their skills at other towers in the city, starting at St Paul’s in the Jewellery Quarter and progressing to the bells of Yardley, Harborne and Handsworth as their proficiency increases. Lessons have a high teacher-pupil ratio and initially take place on Saturday mornings.

Seen in the photograph with Castle Bromwich learners are Tony Daw and Clare McArdle (right), two of the 20 volunteer teachers at the School. 

November 2015

Thanks to Sue Watts and her sister for their hand-made Christmas tree decorations sold at the table-top sale yesterday for our funds. And thanks to Jan & Rosa for setting up the stall. The penguins sold out in no time!

October 2015 

We welcomed local photographer @CornishTony up the tower for a night shoot. (Check him out on Twitter.)

24 October 2015 Bellringers' QUIZ NIGHT  

What an evening we had! Great fun, great support and £600 raised towards our restoration project.

Left: the bellringers ready for action. Right: the winning team: the Painkillers. Well done!

2015 October More visitors to the tower, all having a go at bellringing !

Left: 237th Wednesday cubs (two groups on two nights. Right: Cat Lane Brownies.

October 2015  Thanks to Water Orton Local History Society for their kind donation following Bill Dargue's talk to them about the history of Birmingham churches.

16 & 23 September 2015

Visits by the Castle Vale cub group.
Everyone had a go at bellringing!

12 & 13 September 2015

Castle Bromwich Heritage weekend

A good time was had by all. The bellringers were in action with trips up the tower and, of course a ring of the bells. For more pictures, go to our Google+ page.

9 September 2015 - God Save the Queen!

This date marks the day the Queen becomes the longest serving monarch in British history. Castle Bromwich bells (along with hundreds of others across the country) rang in celebration!

September 2015

Thanks to steeplekeeper Stuart and Simon Adams of Taylor's Bell Foundry who mended the mechanism of the troublesome treble bell this week. Where would we be without good friends. Now we're back to ringing 6 bells again.

St Clement's Church Ladies Group - HERITAGE WALK

30 July 2015

The Ladies Group who hold weekly meetings at St Clement’s Church are normally treated to interesting talks by speakers on a range of topics. However, here was a meeting with a difference taking the form of a heritage walk around the Castle Bromwich Conservation Area. Led by local historian Bill Dargue, the group first visited the church graveyard which is now lovingly tended by Castle Bromwich Youth & Community Partnership. From here there is a view across to Pimple Hill, the site of Norman castle of Bromwich almost a thousand years ago.

And then a guided tour round the Grade I listed church where Bill is one of the bellringers. Uniquely the medieval timber-framed church is encased within 18th-century brick. Of special interest are the box pews, the lord’s pews and the triple-decker pulpit, rare survivals from the 1700s.

The group followed the Old Chester Road, an ancient trackway used from the Stone Age, trod by Romans, by the Duke of Cumberland’s army to quell the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, and travelled daily from 1659 by the London-Chester stagecoach, the first in the Midlands and a service which ran until the 1830s with only a single year’s gap during the 1665 Plague.

The ladies retired for a well-earned cuppa to the Elizabethan splendour of Castle Bromwich hall Hotel. Suitably refreshed, some of the ladies summoned the energy to return to the church where they ascended the tower for a magnificent view as far as Dudley Castle and the Lickeys. The walk was in support of the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project an we thank the ladies for their kind donations. 

7 July 2015

Good meeting of Bell Restoration trustees tonight: Fr Gavin, Stuart, Captain Dan, Jean & Bill. Feeling much more positive.

We decided to reapply to the Heritage Lottery Fund (after Stuart's reconsulted with them how to 'improve' our bid - they said 'that while you had identified a range of outcomes for people and communities, the project might be stronger if it involved a wider range of people through the heritage of the church, in the history and practice of bellringing and in the construction work you propose.' 

We're going to check if there are any other charities or trusts we can apply to, get letters of support from lots towers and other organisations, contact schools re. the CB history website ( and arrange school visits to the tower for next term, organise a Quiz in the church hall 24 October, lead a heritage walk around Castle Brom 10 September 2pm, 
consider how to involve members of the Remembrance Club.

We need to raise c£100,000 and have set a target date of 2017; we've raised half that amount so we're doing pretty well! Ours thanks to all our supporters.

July 2015  And the bad news is: the Heritage Lottery Fund has turned down for a 2nd time our application for a grant towards restoring Castle Bromwich bells. Where do we go from here? We're feeling glum.

July 2015

Below: Visit by the 237th Birmingham Monday cubs - more cubs next week!

4 July 2015 - Our famous Church GARDEN FETE!

Falling on the Fourth of July this year Castle Bromwich church fete takes on an American theme. The Independence Day Extravaganza features all the elements of a traditional church fete for which St Mary & St Margaret’s is well known. There are games for children and adults, tombola, book stalls, entertainments and home-made refreshments - and the Youth Group is running the all-American diner.

The historic church is open to visitors and the bellringers will conduct trips up the tower (99 steps) for a bird’s-eye view of Castle Bromwich.

The fete begins with a peal of bells rung this year in memory of the American airmen serving at Castle Bromwich Aerodrome during the First World War. The airfield, now the site of the Castle Vale estate, served as a training ground for hundreds of young pilots who were to fight for their country across the Channel, among their number some American citizens. The United States did not enter the war until 1917 and those wanting to support the British war effort went to Canada to join the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

Two of their number were never to return and lie at rest in Castle Bromwich graveyard opposite the church. Both died in training accidents. These were early days in the story of flight and the list of accidents at Castle Bromwich makes for disturbing reading.

Lieutenant David Billings hailed from Chicago, where his father was a church minister. In September 1917 during training, Billings’ safety straps broke while his plane was upside down. He fell to his death near the airfield but the aircraft continued on to Water Orton where it crashed into a wood. The young lieutenant was buried in the church graveyard.

Raymond Balch was brought up in Massachusetts and joined the RFC in Canada. In May 1918 two days before transferring to the Front, he took part in training over Sutton Park. Pulling out of a dive, his aeroplane broke up, throwing the young pilot to the ground where he was killed instantly. He too is buried  in Castle Bromwich graveyard.

In the photograph: bellringer Chris Rickus stands by the grave of US airman, Lieutenant Balch. 

< 14 June 2015

Castle Bromwich bells will ring out to celebrate freedom, democracy and the rule of law on Sunday - Magna Carta 800.

7 June 2015

A meeting with our MP >

Trustees, Jean Willis and Stuart Stanton of the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project met up with Meriden MP Caroline Spelman at the Civic Service today. She was interested to hear about our ambitious plans to restore the peal. 

4 June 2015

Oops! One of our learners broke a stay last night. It happens when you pull too hard and the stay whacks the slider - some of our experienced ringers have done the very same thing when learning. Fortunately, steeple-keeper Stuart clambered around the frame in the belfry and replaced it. He was rewarded with a well-earned pint.  

June 2015

Castle Bromwich Civic Service at St Mary & St Margaret's Church in the presence of the Chair & members of the Parish Council - Sunday 7th June 2015 - all welcome! Will there be bellringing? You bet.

15 May 2015

After many months of hard labour, the lads from Park Hall 6th Form BTEC Media course have finished their video of the bells, the bellringers and bellringing at Castle Bromwich!  They have really done us proud! Take a look at their amazing achievement on YouTube.

13 May 2015

Thanks to the Ladies' Group at St Mary's Acocks Green for their donation to the Bell Fund and the Ward End Townswomen's Guild following history talks by local historian Bill Dargue.

9 May 2015

VE Day 70th Anniversary: Castle Bromwich ringers rang at 11 am along with hundreds of other towers across the UK. 

6 May 2015

The Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project has just been granted a faculty from the Chancellor of the Diocese of Birmingham giving permission to proceed with the restoration & augmentation project! This is a major step forward.

May 2015

There's an interesting article about the history of Castle Bromwich bells on by a local bellringing feller.

26 April 2015

AGM of Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project followed the PCC annual meeting after 10 am Parish Eucharist.

April 2015

Ringing for England & St George!

April 2015 

Permission granted!

In 2013 the ringers set up a project to have a purpose-made frame built with new fittings and to install two new bells making a full ring of eight. The plan aims to complete the work for the tercentenary of Sir John Bridgeman II’s bells of 1717. He lived all his life at Castle Bromwich Hall from 1667 to 1774.

The team has now raised half of the £100,000 cost. However, fund-raising is only one aspect of the project. Because our church is Grade I listed, permission is required to make any alterations to the the building. After receiving plans from three bell hanging companies, having an engineering and architectural survey and an inspection by an officer from English Heritage, it was agreed that the scheme could be forwarded to the Bishop’s advisory committee. They have now given their approval and it just remains for the Chancellor of the Diocese to sign the necessary documentation.

Jean Willis, the treasurer of the project was delighted with the news: ‘With lots of help from lots of people, we’ve come a long way in raising funds. Now, getting the official go-ahead has given the project team a real boost.’

Bells have been ringing at Castle Bromwich for over 500 years and the new installation will ensure that they continue to ring for many years to come.

For a (very) brief History of Bellringing

March/ April 2015

Wednesday 8 April Learners at 7pm – ringing as normal 7.30 – 9pm.

Easter Sunday 5 April: Ringing after the 6.30 am Sonrise service and at 9.30 am as usual

Wednesday 1st April: no ringing Practice during Holy Week.

Saturday 21st March Wedding Fayre - ringing at 11 am and 2.30 pm. 

March 2015

Another Step Closer

Our Restoration Project moved a little nearer to its goal this this week! Having been given the go-ahead by English Heritage, Steeple keeper Stuart Stanton submitted details of our project to restore and augment the bell installation to the Birmingham Diocesan Committee - and they have now granted permission for the project to proceed. We're already about half-way to our target figure and now just have to raise the final £50,000. Cheque books out, folks!

March 2015

A crowded bell tower tonight - this is why we need 8 bells!
Four learners, visitors from Boldmere and us.

2015 February 

Restoration Project NEWS: Taylor's have sent us the final plans for the Restoration Project, the structural engineer is happy, the church architect is fine with it, and English Heritage have given the project the OK. So the plans go off to the Birmingham Diocesan Advisory Committee for their approval this week!

Boldmere visitors: We really sorry to hear that Boldmere tower (Sutton Coldfield) is out of action at the moment, but really glad that the team are visiting us every Wednesday. Their support has really boosted our ringing!

2015 January

Stuart, our steeple keeper met recently with a representative from Taylor's of Loughborough and the church architect to agree the final arrangement for the proposed new bell frame. English Heritage require that a medieval beam reused in the tower in 1725 be preserved in situ and the frame will have to be built around it. We await Taylor's final drawings. 

2015 January

Bill gave a talk about the bells and the Castle Bromwich Trail to the ladies who meet on Mondays at St Clement's Church. We're very grateful for their kind donations to the Bell Restoration Fund.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a merry New Year!

from the Castle Bromwich bellringers!

 Castle Bromwich Bellringers make the local Press

2014 December


2014 November

We've just received notification from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs that our charitable status entitles us to Gift Aid. This means that for every £1 you donate, we can claim a further 25p back from HMRC. So if you donate £10, it's worth £12.50 to us. If you give us £100, it's worth £125 - and if you gave us £1,000,000  .  .  . 

Local History Online for the Younger Generation 

Click here >

2014 November
Castle Bromwich bellringers have launched a new history website aimed at a younger generation of local historians. Local history buffs are typically folk of a certain age, but this online resource enables youngsters to discover the past via their laptops.

The history of Castle Bromwich stretches back to the Stone Age and locals have often been touched by national events. The evidence here has been traced by Bill Dargue and put online by the bellringers as part of their outreach to the local community.

The website contributes to the new National Curriculum for schools, which emphasises the importance of children knowing about their own locality. The site covers ten thousand years of Castle Bromwich history and includes a local trail which may be walked virtually or in reality. One local headteacher described the site as ‘a fantastic piece of work which will be a very useful resource in school.’

The new website is intended for the children’s own use but will also be of interest to older enthusiasts. ‘The History of Castle Bromwich for Young People’ can be found at

Bellringers to star in new movie! 

2014 November 19th 
A group of Park Hall Academy media students visited the church tower  to plan a short feature film starring the Castle Bromwich bellringers. We look forward to taking part and seeing the end result.

Solihull Mayor Visits the bell tower

2014 November 10

The Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Mrs Kate Wild paid a visit to our church today to launch the Castle Bromwich Audio Heritage Walk (which can be downloaded at She learnt about the toposcopic plaques installed by the Castle Bromwich Youth & Community Partnership chaired by Terrie Knibb and the bellringers weren't shy in telling her about their plans to refurbish the bells.

Hall's Garden Centre sponsors Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project
2014 November 10

2014 Remembrance Sunday Bells half muffled at 8.45 am.

2014 November 5th We skipped half an hour's ringing tonight to go onto the tower roof to watch the Firework Display at Pype Hayes Park! I understand that, in days of yore, ringers were paid to ring in celebration of the capture of Guy Fawkes. 

2014 All Souls Great to hear the bells rung half-muffled in Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace and rise in glory!

Castle Brom ʌ welcomes
visiting ringers!

2014 All Saints' Day

Keith Brooks’ Ringing Friends includes bellringers from the Lichfield & Walsall Archdeaconry Society of Change Ringers, the North Staffs Association of Change Ringers, the Shropshire Association of Change Ringers and the St Martin’s Guild for the Diocese of Birmingham rolling round the country every month since 2009.

English Heritage on-site inspection

2014 October 23rd 

Alan Taylor of English Heritage visited the tower to assess the impact that a new bell frame would have on the 18th-century building. Also present were steeple keeper Stuart Stanton, trustee Bill Dargue and Simon Adams (right) from the bell casting and hanging company, Taylor's of Loughborough.

We do now have to wait for the official confirmation, but it does look as if we're going to get the go-ahead!

Now all we need to do is raise the rest of the £100,000! (We are over a third the way there already.)

New patron

2014 October 13th

We are very pleased to announce that Viscount Hereford, 16th Baronet Devereux of Castle Bromwich (left) has agreed to be co-patron of the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project with the Earl of Bradford.

     2014 October 

St Philip & 
St James' Guides!

Local Historian gives talk to St M&M's Mothers' Union

2014 October 

Bill Dargue gave a fascinating talk today to our church's branch of the Mothers' Union.
Guess what about. You've got it: the church bells!

Bill has given talks to other local groups including the North Arden History Society, Castle Bromwich metal detectorist club Timeline Detection, the Wythall Society - and is to talk to the Castle Bromwich Ladies' Club at St Clement's church and at St Mary's Acocks Green. He is soon to lead a guided historical walk around the local area. Interested in a talk with slides about Castle Bromwich bells? Make contact via our Contact page.

Bill has been involved with CBBRP chair Stuart Stanton working with the Castle Bromwich Youth & Community Project.

All proceeds are in aid of the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project. 

Local business sponsors Castle Bromwich bells

2014 September 

A distinctive feature of Castle Bromwich, the bells of St Mary & St Margaret’s church have sounded out across the district for hundreds of years. They ring to celebrate weddings and toll sombrely at funerals; they ring on national occasions, royal weddings and funerals and to warn of the outbreak of war. The Castle Bromwich ringers were paid to sound out the news of Guy Fawkes’execution in 1606! And the bells call the faithful to church every Sunday morning.

As with anything mechanical, the installation is subject to wear and tear. The six bells of St Mary & St Margaret’s have a combined weight of over a ton and the stresses and strains caused by continual use are beginning to tell. It is over 60 years since any serious work was carried out and the need to restore the bells is now pressing.

Castle Bromwich bellringers have set up a charitable trust to raise funds to refurbish the ring of bells - at a cost of over £100,000.
Bells have always been sponsored by enthusiastic individuals. It is not known who funded the medieval bells, but it was certainly the lord of the manor, one of the Ferrers or Devereux families. The 1717 bells were installed by Sir John Bridgeman II and other residents of the manor, landowner John Chattock and wealthy lawyers, father and son William and Isaac Sadler. In 1893 Lord Bradford and Lady Ida paid for a new bell to celebrate the wedding of their friend Princess Mary and the future King George V. And in 1952 Lucy Williams, wife of the village blacksmith left a bequest to recast the peal.

The present Bell Restoration Trust is making good progress, kick-started by a substantial gift from a anonymous local donor. Now, stepping in with sponsorship is Hall’s Garden Centre (, a family business of several generations.

Gerald Hall set up his garden supplies business on the Chester Road at Hurst Lane in 1952, the same year as the new church bells were installed. Some years later Hall’s moved the garden centre to its present site on the Chester Road.

Robert Hall, senior partner at Hall’s, (seen here on the left with trustee Bill Dargue) recalled his family’s association with Castle Bromwich: “Our family and business have been rooted in Castle Bromwich for 62 years and my paternal grandparents lie at rest in Castle Bromwich cemetery opposite the church as does Maurice Meader, my great uncle, and a 21 year old Spitfire pilot. We are proud to support the efforts of the bellringers to restore the bells.”

Hall’s sponsorship has enabled the bellringers to produce booklets about the history of the church and a Castle Bromwich Trail, the proceeds going towards the Bell Restoration Fund.

The booklets are available at St Mary & St Margaret’s Church or via the Bell Ringers’ website at

The Bingle Ringers drop in

2014 September 27th

We're always pleased to welcome visiting ringers at Castle Bromwich. The Bingles were on a full week's ringing holiday and Castle Bromwich was their last call before heading back to Essex.

2014 September 6th

No Heritage Lottery Grant for Castle Bromwich Bells

2014 August 14th

And the bad news from the Heritage Lottery Fund is that the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project has not been awarded a grant.

However, we can apply again, so never mind - ON WE GO!

HLF wrote: 
"We considered your project against the range of outcomes and other factors we take into account when making decisions about funding. On the basis of that assessment, I am sorry to tell you that we have decided not to award a grant towards the project. 
I appreciate that this will be disappointing news for everyone involved in making the application and so I will explain the reasons for that decision.We are experiencing a high level of demand for our funds and we had to take decisions on more applications than we had budget for. Although your bid was of good quality, there were a number of other applications which achieved out outcomes more strongly or represented better value for money. We were unable to support your bid on that basis."

Castle Bromwich Ringers hit the headlines again

2014 August 9th

Take a look at the Solihull News -

Monday 4 August marked the centenary of the declaration of war against Germany.

In Castle Bromwich graveyard lie the remains of local people and airmen from Castle Bromwich airfield.

Their memory was commemorated with a special service and a ringing of muffled bells.

Castle Bromwich Commemorates 1914

2014 August 3rd

One hundred years ago a small group of mourners stood around the grave of Lieutenant Raymond Balch. 23-year-old US airman Balch had just completed his training at Castle Bromwich Airfield when his plane crashed, killing him outright. He was laid to rest in this small cemetery 3000 miles from home, at a service led by Rev Bickersteth attended by fellow trainees from the airfield (now the site of Castle Vale). 

One hundred years later local people of Castle Bromwich stood in the same place to hear his story as part of their solemn commemoration of the start of the First World War.

The church bells were rung half muffled producing an atmospheric echoing sound in honour of Lt Balch and the millions of the Fallen. The bells were then rung in reverse order, a traditional method to signify the outbreak of war. Following a lone piper into the church of St Mary & St Margaret, the congregation consisted of church-goers, the clergy and choir, the bellringers, members of the Parish Council, military cadets, local people and a large group from the 237th Castle Bromwich Scout Group.

Just four candles lit the darkened church representing the four corners of the earth, all to suffer the impact of the World War. After each solemn reading one candle was extinguished. Music was provided by the church choir who sang Carl Jenkins’ moving ‘Benedictus’ and the congregational singing of ‘I vow to the my country’. For the final reading from the Bible, the Paschal candle was lit as sign for Christians of Christ’s presence in the midst of suffering.

As the congregation silently left the church a spotlight shone to the top of the church tower where the piper played a Scottish lament. In the darkness in front of him the site of Castle Bromwich Airfield where Ray Balch met his death 100 years ago. 

Half muffled bells were again rung in reverse concluding with the tolling of the tenor bell 31 times to commemorate the 31 Castle Bromwich soldiers named on the Great War memorial in the church.

Muffled ring in memory of Margaret Travis

2014 August 5th

On Friday the church bells of Castle Bromwich were rung half-muffled for the funeral of Margaret Travis. (We rang slow and muffled before and tolled each bell slowly after.) We had some very nice feedback. Margaret was the longest serving member of the church congregation (63 years) and was drawn to the church when she'd just moved onto the new estate of Shard End. She followed the sound of the bells to our church and never stopped coming. In her memory the retiring collection was given to the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project and gratefully received.

Guild Ringing Master visits

2014 July 23rd

The ringing master of St Martin's Guild for the Diocese of Birmingham visited Castle Bromwich to encourage our young ringers.

His support is much appreciated. 

Visit by the 147th Hodge Hill Brownies 

2014 July 17th

It was good to welcome Brown Owl Charlotte Atkins and her Brownies who meet at St Wilfred's church.

The girls had a look round St Mary & St Margaret's church before climbing up to the top of the tower.

Each of the girls and leaders rang a bell.

The Brownies held their pack meeting in the bellringing chamber where some of the girls were presented with achievement badges. 

Structural Engineer checks out the Tower

2014 July 17

Structural engineer Adrian Dempster with steeple keeper Stuart Stanton recently checked whether Castle Bromwich tower will fall down - or not - with the addition of two more bells.

He seems to think it will be fine!

What a Hero! Our own Tough Mudder

2014 July

Stuart & Bill were invited to ring the bells at Bickenhill for a wedding - we can't be too bad then!

Talk About North Solihull website

Castle Bromwich bellringers are also on the Talk About North Solihull website.

3rd (and final?!) visit by 237th Friday cubs 

2014 July 10

Message from one of the cub leaders, Laura Millward:

Our last group visit to see the church and hear the fabulous bell ringers at st Mary and st Margaret's last night. I have a feeling it won't be too long before we are spotted there again.

We really can't thank you all enough for your constant stream on knowledge for the cubs and your dedication of taking them all up the tower each week at St Mary and St Margaret's Church, Castle Bromwich.

A first for us to be allowed to invest one of our cubs Dylan and also our newest leader keego at the top of the tower.

Thank you Bill Dargue and the bell ringers

Ringers in action at the Garden Fete

2014 July 6th

Now that was a proper good old-fashioned church garden fete! Thanks to all who helped out up the tower yesterday.

The bellringers are grateful to Hall's Garden Centre, Castle Bromwich for kindly sponsoring our booklets.

Special thanks

2012 June 29th

Special thanks to the lovely couple married yesterday who asked for the retiring collection to be given to the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Fund. 

Castle Brom ringers on tour

2014 June 26th

Our ringers have been getting about recently trying their hand ringing at other nearby towers. Ringers have visited Bickenhill, Nether Whitacre, Sheldon and Hanbury (The bells of Hanbury are heard as the bells of St Stephen's Ambridge on Radio 4's 'The Archers'.

Hanbury church

Castle Bromwich Village Trail 

2014 June 26th

Castle Bromwich Village Trail
- now on sale - £1.50.

Now available at St Mary & St Margaret's, the parish church of Castle Bromwich

Also our two fascinating booklets about the history of Castle Bromwich -
Castle Bromwich and its Church £1.50 + The Bells of Castle Bromwich 75p

Available for £6 by post incl P&P from Bill Dargue 10 Listelow Close B36 9EA
Cheques payable to Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Fund.

The bellringers are most grateful to Hall’s Garden Centre, Castle Bromwich for kindly sponsoring these booklets.

Now this is a first!

2014 June 1st

In the past we've had thanks and cards, but never flowers before. This happy couple came up to the ringing chamber on Sunday morning to thank us for ringing for their wedding. Well, we thank them - it's great to be appreciated.

Hayley Mann and the 237 Friday Beavers pay us a visit.

Hayley and the 237 cubs - the first of three visits

Catching the ear of the Bishop

2014 May 29th

After ringing the bells for the confirmations, our young ringers tell Bishop Michael about our bell restoration project.

Young conductors 

2014 June 8th

Our youngest Castle Bromwich ringers Chris & Mitchel conducted the bellringing tonight especially for the Mayor of Solihull at the Civic Service. Well done lads!

From the Archives:

An earlier generation - A tower trip by 237th Birmingham Beavers in the year 2000.

Welcome to the Somerset ringers

2014 May 26th

Today we welcomed a band from Somerset (assorted towers) who are on a Gillett & Johnston ringing tour.

A sorry tale - with a happy ending
- in reverse order!

2014 May 24th

THANK YOU! Simon Adams of Taylor's of Loughborough for sorting out the pulley box on the tenor. We're no longer 'Out of Order' and back to 6. Well done Dan & Stuart for helping him out. Castle Bromwich is bellringing again!  http/  

2014 May 23rd

Having read on the internet about the demise of the tenor, Taylor's employee Simon Adams raced to Castle Bromwich on the very day of the disaster. With tower captain Dan Harris, the offending pulley box was removed with a promise to get us ringing again as soon as possible.Now that's what you call service!

2014 May 11th

Hello to all bellringers and non bell ringers:

It is with regret that I have to say that, on what will hopefully be a temporary measure, our 6 bell tower is now a 5 bell tower. A problem has arisen where by the rope on the 6 is getting stuck in the pulley box. This means that when we are ringing the 6th bell, the rope gets caught whilst the bell continues swinging.This is extremely unsafe for the bell ringers as we completely lose control of the bell and to ensure the health and safety of the bell ringers and the bells themselves, we have had to cease the use of the number 6 bell.
As I mentioned, this is hopefully a temporary measure. Our tower maintenance man, Stuart Stanton is going to have a look to see if he can do anything so that we can start using the bell again, however this is also proof that the bells are getting closer to the end of their life, unless we raise the money to refurbish the tower.As you're probably aware, we have a project underway. We are still quite a way away from reaching this goal however it is still achievable.
Please keep checking for further information and events that we are organising. with the help of everyone, we'll be able to get the bell tower back to the excellent ring that they once were.

Thanks, Dan, Tower Captain

Castle Bromwich
Heritage Festival - full peal! 

2014 May 10th

Sadly, an unsuccessful attempt due to mechanical failure. This is why the bells need restoring.Thanks to the band for taking part.

Castle Bromwich Beer & Heritage Festival

2014 May 9th

Mixed minor, St Clements, Bob Minor - Jonathan Thorne, Graham Kelly, Julie Hooper, Simon Adams, James Ramsbottom (c), James Stanton.

Well done, visiting ringers! Thank you for taking part.

Castle Bromwich Beer & Heritage Festival 

Lots of events this weekend around the church, hall, gardens and conservation area.
Thanks to the bellringers for all the hard work you put in showing visitors up and down the tower, into the medieval roof, letting people have a ring, selling key rings, mugs, booklets and Castle Bromwich trails - and trying to empty all the beer left in the barrels at the end of the weekend. 

Local Historian Returns to Old Haunts
and tries his hand at bellringing

Local author and historian Colin Green paid a visit to Castle Bromwich Church at a open day recently - some 60 years since he had worked with his father on that ancient historic building. Colin’s dad was a jobbing builder in Castle Bromwich at a time when the district was largely covered by farmers’ fields. He was often called in to carry out maintenance on St Mary & St Margaret’s church, which was then set in the Warwickshire countryside.

Leaving school at the age of 15, Colin worked at various properties around the area. But by far the most interesting was the old parish church. Its unique structure was the cause of many problems then as now, for it is a medieval timber-framed church that was encased in brick in English Renaissance style about 1730.

Colin remembers climbing the tower with his father to repair leaks in the roof around the flag pole. The sealant then used was known as RITO, a toxic mix of bitumen and asbestos.

On another occasion the rector, Rev Henry Forbes called them in to report on the state of the medieval roof timbers. They had held up the roof for over 500 years but were now being attacked by death watch beetle, woodworm, dry rot, wet rot and all the thousand natural shocks that ancient buildings are heir to. Access to the roof space now is via a steep but short stair from the bell ringing chamber, but when Colin was a lad, a very long ladder had to be put up to a trapdoor in the ceiling inside the church. And the only form of lighting was a battery-powered torch.

Even as a teenager Colin was amazed at the massive wooden framework that had been constructed in the Middle Ages, all the work done by human hands.

The winter of 1955 was especially severe. Snow started falling in January and by the following month the temperature had fallen to minus 3°C. The church roof was piled high with snow. When finally the thaw came, the gutters and drainpipes were blocked with ice and meltwater began to pour inside the church. Colin’s job was to climb onto the roof to clear drainpipes to allow the water to escape.

Once Colin and his father had to dig up and replace the old drains which took the water to soakaways west of the church. He was thrilled to unearth a silver threepenny bit, (a coin he still has) which must have been a substantial loss to a working man 300 years ago.

While at the church the bellringers showed Colin how to ring the bells, bells he has heard many times over the years, but had never before rung. When he reached the top of the tower, some 70 feet high, the view all around had changed beyond recognition since the last time he was there. Nonetheless in the heart of this Birmingham suburb, Castle Bromwich still retains evidence of a history almost a thousand years old.

Parish Council Gift to the Bell Fund

2014 May 7th

The appeal to restore the old bells of Castle Bromwich has received a boost with a donation from Castle Bromwich Parish Council. Bellringers at the ancient parish church of St Mary & St Margaret are raising money to bring the ring of bells up to standard and to install two new bells to complete the ring of eight. The sound of bells has echoed across Castle Bromwich since the Middle Ages with a major new installation put in place by Sir John Bridgeman II in 1717.
The bells were recast in 1952 to make a very tuneful set, but were rehung using older fixtures and fittings. These have not worn well and an expensive refurbishment programme must now be undertaken. 

At the annual meeting of the Parish Council at Arden Hall, chairman Councillor John Whelan presented a cheque from the chairman’s charity to the bellringers fund.

He was warmly thanked by Stuart Stanton, chair of the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project.

“The bells are part of the history of Castle Bromwich,” said Stuart. “We’re very grateful to the Parish Council for their support in keeping this history alive.”

Pictured above are Stuart Stanton (left), chair of the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project with John Whelan, chair of Castle Bromwich Parish Council. 

Visitors - They just keep coming! 

2014 May 1st

Great to see Joe at Castle Brom this week from Shustoke, the tower famous for bells that are more difficult to ring than Castle Bromwich. Joe thought our bells were pretty good! I've rung at Shustoke and |I can understand why!

Interestingly Joe's great-grandma was the famous (at Castle Bromwich) ringer from Coleshill who, 40 years ago, lost the end of her finger when ringing at Castle Brom. The finger has never been found. Bill Dargue

PCC Election - Result! 

2014 April 29th

Stuart Stanton, Chair of the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project has been elected to serve on the Parochial Church Council.

St George's Day 2014 

2014 April 24

Ringing for England! Castle Bromwich bell ringers responded to a nationwide call to ring out loud and proud for England’s patron saint on St George’s Day.

They were just one tower of many who joined in the ‘Ringing for England’ campaign which aims every year to get England’s 44,000 bell ringers to ring all 28,000 bells in 15,000 churches across the country. 

The campaign began in 2010 to promote the celebration of St George’s Day after it was perceived that there was a lack of enthusiasm for the event.

The Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London are strong supporters. All churches with bell towers are encouraged to ring out each year to celebrate St George’s Day with many local churches including Birmingham Cathedral taking part. 

Not all of the bishops seem to be in favour. The Bishop of Chester thought ‘there would be dangers in putting on public displays of confidence,’ while the Bishop of Portsmouth was worried that ‘some secularists would claim the Church was imposing its beliefs and practices on the whole population.’

The Bishop of Worcester, however, is unequivocal in his hope that many churches would ring in celebration. Birmingham’s own bishop appears to be silent on the matter. 

St George’s Day marks the day that St George was martyred after the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered his death for refusing to give up Christianity. He has been recognised as England’s patron saint since the 14th century.

2014 April 14th

Quiz + Fish & Chip supper

2014 March

What a great evening this was, enjoyed by all. It was more about making people aware of who we are than making money - but we did make some money for the Bell Restoration Fund.
'When's the next one?' people cried!

The photo in the Castle Bromwich Gazette shows Stuart presenting the Wooden Spoon.

Bellringing - it's all about Mars bars !  . . .

2014 April 10th

Look to! Trebles’ going! She’s gone!

What on earth are we talking about? Ask our youngest bellringers - 

When we first came to bell ringing, we were SCARED! The thought of that half-tonne bell swinging above our heads was daunting, but we were met with a friendly welcome.

As we started learning to ring, we were apprehensive. We were bombarded with strange numbers that the ringers shouted at each other, but once they explained it to us. it was actually quite simple.

At this point we were a bit more confident until we found out about the ringers’ rule which is: “For every fault we owe a pint of beer.” This isn’t applicable to us as we are not old enough to buy beer, but the total now stands at 148½ pints!

But on a serious note - although the bells at Castle Bromwich need some repairs doing to them, they are great fun to ring. They’ve been rung for almost 300 years or more, passed from generation to generation.

But we hope to keep them ringing for much longer, as we are the younger generation . . . 

When we’re not ringing, in our spare time we go digging . . .   By this we mean that we have been planting bulbs in tribute to the woman who had our bells recast in 1952, Lucy Williams. We planted the bulbs on her grave exactly 61 years later. 

We all like the Mars bars advert with the monks ringing the bells when they’ve all eaten Mars bars. Mars bars are famous among bell ringers and they are our motivation - that and making a very loud noise in Castle Bromwich! 

Written by the youngest ringers at Castle Bromwich church - Chris, Mitchel and Vicky 

(So what does it mean - Look to! Trebles’ going! She’s gone! ?
Look to! - means ‘Bellringers, pay attention!’Trebles’ going! - The first bell is about to be rung, so get ready.She’s gone! - Dong!)

Mug shot

2014 April 4th

The first 20 mugs went like hot cakes. 20 more just arrived! Contact us if you'd like one. Just £5.

CB Bellringers key rings

2014 April 1st

What do you think of these ?! 
- made by Mitchel and sold by himself and Chris in aid of the Bell Restoration Fund. Well done both.

Castle Bromwich Church
Wedding Fayre

2014 March 2nd

We never need much of an excuse the ring the bells.

2014 February

Now this is interesting    .   .   .   .

Youngsters give Powerpoint presentation to the church congregation

2014 February

Well done Chris, Mitchel and Vicky!
It's a good job they know how to work the computer.

The Christmas Fayre

2014 December


2013 November 

This is good!
We've done a clever adaptation of the St Martin's Guild badge.
What d'ye reckon?

Well, we like it!

Guides up Top!

Article by Guide leader Glenys Bridges

2013 November 18th

On a cold November night, in the dark, outside a church in Castle Bromwich, 14 very excited Guides and their leaders (from 1st Castle Bromwich Guides Units) stood with Mars bars in their hands. This may sound like a rather strange Guiding activity but it can be easily explained - as this was the night the Guiding unit visited St Mary’s and St Margaret’s church to meet the bellringers and learn about bell ringing.

Excitement about the visit had built up over the previous weeks and the Guides were not disappointed. Firstly they were shown around the beautiful Grade 1 listed parish church by bellringer, Bill Dargue.

Then the highlight of the visit was climbing the 97 steep wooden steps of the bell tower, firstly to see where and how the bells are rung, then to progress up the tower, past the bells and on onwards to the roof of the tower. Once on the roof the whole of East Birmingham could be seen gleaming with lights and the distinguishing familiar landmarks such as the Fort and the busy M6. The Guides watched the aeroplanes flying past on their descent to Birmingham International Airport.

The highlight of the visit was when the Guides and their leaders rang the bells (apologies to the local residents for our novice clangs). The visit was concluded with an expert peal of the bells from the Castle Bromwich Bellringers under their captain Dan Harris, the sound of which brought a tear to the eyes of guides’ mothers, waiting to collect their girls at the end of the night. 

The sure sign of a good trip out is when the Guides are as excited on the way home as they were on the way there. On this premise the bell ringing evening was a very, very, good visit. The Guides wish to thank Bill Dargue and the Castle Bromwich Bellringers. 

(Right - Guides holding what every bell ringer needs - a Mars bar!)

2013 November 23rd

You've got to love this 

From the Archives

September 2003

(St Chad's is a Staffordshire tower.)

A busy month

November 2013

The bells were rung half muffled for the annual Service of Remembrance.
Our young ringers attended the youth practice at St Paul’s in the Jewellery Quarter.
Visit by 1st Castle Bromwich guides
Bulbs were planted on the anniversary of the 1952 bell installation by all the ringers on the grave of John & Lucy Williams, the latter whose legacy funded the recasting of the bells in memory of her bellringing husband.
Booklets about the history of the church and its bells went on sale to support our funds kindly sponsored Halls Garden Centre of Castle Bromwich.

A Google+ page was set up:

Successful Quarter

2013 October 

A quarter peal of Bob Doubles rung successfully at Castle Bromwich as part of St Martin’s Guild Quarter Peal month - Saturday 12 October 2013 - Julie Hooper, James Stanton (Conductor, Daniel Harris CB captain - first quarter inside), Simon Adams, Bill Dargue, Jane Boyle - Thanks to our friends for their support ringing this.

Bill Dargue Dan Harris and Bill Dargue invited to ring a quarter as part of the Guild Quarter month at Yardley - Dan trebling, Bill on the tenor to a spliced quarter of doubles methods including Plain Bob, Grandsire, St Martin's & St Simon's. Successful!

2013 October 

Quarter Peal month

2013 October 5th

St Martin's Guild Quarter Peal month: Castle Bromwich ringers did their best, but even with the support of our good friends, James Stanton & Jane Boyle, we didn't quite make it. Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all! 


Visits to assess the work to be done on the bells by Nicolson’s, Whites, Whitechapel and Taylors of Loughborough organised by steeple keeper Stuart Stanton.

More visitors! 

2013 September 12th

We're getting more and more popular!

Visitors from Halesowen recently - and last night from Boldmere, Wishaw and another welcome visit by Guild Ringing Master, Tony Daw. We were able to ring Bob Doubles with bobs, which doesn't happen very often at Castle Bromwich. 

Perhaps our visitors see CB as a challenge - In the Birmingham Guild they do say that if you can ring at Castle Bromwich, you can ring anywhere (except at Shu- you-know-where, perhaps).

Never say Die!

2013 August 17th

Former Castle Bromwich ringers James Stanton & Matt Williams were not thwarted when we couldn't ring for lack of numbers one Wednesday recently (an unusual occurrence). They rang at St Michael's Boldmere, a tower CB ringers have often visited in the past. Bill Dargue also rang for a wedding at Boldmere on Saturday. 

Visit by the Ringing Master 

2013 August 17th

Castle Bromwich tower was recently paid a visit by Tony Daw, Ringing Master of the St Martin's Guild of Church Bell Ringers. It's always a pleasure to welcome visitors, especially people of such ringing expertise as Tony. It enables us to develop our ringing skills further. Over a pint later Tony let us know that the Guild are keen to support our efforts in refurbishing the ring at Castle Bromwich. Good news!

Former captain accepts role as the Trust's technical advisor 

2013 August 14th

We are pleased to announce that former captain James Stanton has agreed to advise the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Trust on technical matters concerning the refurbishment project.

To quote one of the trustees:

Not only is James a former captain of memorable memory who continues to maintain an interest and commitment to our little tower, but he put a deal of work into the bells and reports on their condition and getting quotes and people to look at them, etc etc. And we all know he always did and does want them refurbished and augmented as much as we do. It would be really good to include him in some official capacity in recognition of his involvement with our tower.

Castle Bromwich ringers rang the bells half-muffled
for our captain's grandfather's funeral 

2013 August 2nd

Castle Bromwich ringers were proud to be asked to ring the church bells for the funeral service of Joe Fletcher, the grandfather of Tower Captain, Dan Harris.

A single bell was tolled slowly as the funeral cortege arrived at church. Then after the service, as a sign of respect, the bells were rung half-muffled. A piece of leather is fixed to one side of each clapper, so that the bells ring first loud and then soft like an echo. It was an atmospheric sound, very appropriate for a well-known and well-liked member of the church community.

We extend our sympathy to the family of Joe Fletcher.

Groom rings for his own wedding!

John Dargue learned to ring at Castle Bromwich when he was just 11 years old. Here he is with sister Emily and dad, Bill Dargue ringing the bells for his own wedding almost 20 years later.

(Hey! It helps keep the costs down!)

Visiting ringers from Devon 

2013 August 2nd

We were very pleased today to welcome a large band of visiting bellringers to Castle Bromwich today. One of the great things about bellringing as a hobby is that you can visit towers across the country and you're always made welcome.

Victoria Davies, ITV Central News reporter - and bellringer

2013 July 25th

As soon as ITV Central News reporter, Victoria Davies had declared the Church Garden Fete of 2013 open, she was whisked up the church tower where she had learned to ring the bells as a teenager.

It wasn't quite like riding a bike, but Victoria gave it a good go! After climbing to the top of the tower, she certainly seemed to have enjoyed the experience.

We hope to invite her back when the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project has achieved its ambition of refurbishing the bells.

Church Garden Fete 2013

Some 150 visitors climbed the tower.

CBBRP officially set up as a charitable trust 

2013 July 18th

Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project was officially set up as a charitable trust on 16 July 2013, the founding trustees being Tower Captain Dan Harris, Steeple keeper Stuart Stanton as Chair, Jean Willis as Secretary and Treasurer, Bill Dargue Public Relations. The Rector Fr Gavin Douglas has agreed to be a co-opted trustee.

Lord Bradford had no objections to our incorporating part of his family coat of arms into our Castle Bromwich bellringers' logo which was designed by former captain, James Stanton.  

Lord Bradford agrees to be our Patron

26 June 2013

Email received today re. the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project - 

Dear William,

I would be more than delighted to the patron of your appeal and wish you all success in your endeavours.

Best wishes, Lord Bradford

Bell restoration:
Why we need to do it  .  .  .  .

 2013 June 6th

It is all too easy to hear the bells and just assume that they will continue to ring for weddings and services forever, without any thought about how this tradition continues -  just that it always has and so always will.

Unfortunately, that is not the reality.

There are two aspects to be considered when hearing the bells; who are the people doing it and what is the equipment like that they are doing it on. 

On the people front we are lucky to have a vibrant young band, although half the band have other duties on a Sunday morning, which can leave us rarely having a full band of six on a Sunday morning. This problem has an easy solution: all it requires is an extra couple of volunteers to learn to ring. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to handle the bell to a standard to be able to ring for services and has problems with the retention of ringers. 

On the equipment side, again there is good news. The bells themselves sound good and do not require to be recast. However, the bell technology was out of date when it was installed in 1952, and now requires replacement. So - come on!
James Stanton

New website

2013 April

Tower captain Dan Harris has set up our new website. Thanks to James Stanton for his previous work which is now incorporated into the new site.

Ringers: Don't forget to join the Castle Brom Ringers Facebook group which James set up way back - in 2007.

Here we are!

2013 May 7th

News from the latest PCC meeting following Stuart Stanton's presentation: The PCC has given us the go-ahead to start the project to restore the bells!

We're coming!

2013 April

Have you spotted our paver by the Community Hall?

A bit of history 

First mentioned in a charter of 1165, Castle Bromwich church was a small stone chapel built by the lord to serve the needs of his family and the people of the manor. Bells have always been a feature of English churches and it is likely that the faithful were called to church by the sound of a single bell from the 12th century. During the 15th century the church was extended with a large timber-framed building by one of the Devereux family. Three bells were hung in a wooden belfry, traces of which can still be seen in the medieval roof timbers. 

In 1717 a new lord of the manor, Sir John Bridgeman II had the bells recast and two new ones added by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston who also cast bells for Handsworth, Northfield and Sheldon churches. The tenor bell was inscribed with Sir John’s name, the others with the names of the church wardens and trustees. The Churchwardens’ Accounts record the payment of £12 16s. 0d.By 1731 Sir John had the old building extended and encased in brick in a neo-classical style. Castle Bromwich church is unique in retaining the wooden timber frame and roof within a brick encasement and has Grade I listed status. 
The 5 bells were rehung in a new west tower.

To celebrate the wedding of the future King George V a new 10-hundredweight tenor bell was added in 1893. Cast by Charles Carr of Smethwick it is inscribed: I celebrate the Wedding Day of George of York and Princess May. Deo Laus [Praise God]. Princess May, later Queen Mary, was a friend of the Bridgeman family of Castle Bromwich Hall and a signed photograph hangs in the church vestry commemorating one of her visits to the church. Carr constructed a new wooden bell frame which is still in place. 

All six bells were recast in 1952, the last work undertaken by the now defunct but celebrated bellfounders Gillett & Johnston of Croydon whose bells are especially noted for their fine tone. A new metal frame was installed above the old to allow for two more bells to be added. However, the considerable on-going expense of maintaining the historic church building has always precluded this.

The bells themselves are in good condition. However, with the exception of replacing the ropes, minimal maintenance has been carried on the working parts since 1952, and time is now beginning to take its toll.
In a tradition continuing from the Middle Ages, Castle Bromwich bells are rung regularly on Sundays and on feast days, for weddings and for special occasions by a small enthusiastic band whose ages currently range from thirteen to seventy-something.