Visiting ringers are welcome at St Paul’s.

In 1874 the tower received a ring of eight bells at a cost of, £1050 cast by Taylors of Loughborough to the specifications of Sir Edmund Beckett QC, later Lord Grimthorpe. The tenor (in F) weighs 25 cwt, 3 qrs, 21 lbs. The first peal in 1876 was Grandsire and this was followed regularly by Double Norwich, Stedman, Superlative, London and Cambridge.

The church was consecrated in 1874 with Rev James H Fish as Vicar. He helped to form the Midland Counties Association and was its first president. He also formed St Paul’s Society of change ringers. The first peal on the bells was Grandsire Triples in 1879 conducted by W Wakley. The Vicar’s first peal was 5024 Kent Treble Bob, rung half-muffled on the occasion of the funeral of Archbishop Tait in 1882. His 18 peals included 6720 Superlative and the first ever peal of Stedman Triples rung by a band composed entirely of clergymen. Double Norwich, New Cumberland, Superlative, Cambridge, Stedman, Grandsire and Dutfield were regularly recorded. The sudden death of the Vicar in his 41st year was a great loss to the church, Association and Society, this coming at a time when his band was poised for the highest achievement of those days, a peal of London Surprise. However it came less than six months after his death and was the fourth ever of London to be rung.

Names which readily spring to mind are W Wakley, Albert P Wakley, A Wakley, H Wakley, W C Wakley, E L Stone, J Jagger, J Griffin, H Bastable, J W Washbrook, H Dains, F E Dawe, G Robinson, C H Hattersley, N J Pitstow and A P Haywood. The Rev F E Robinson practises his Superlative at Bennington and came to St Paul’s to ring his first peal in that queen of methods which was the ninth of Superlative ever to be rung. Three peals of Superlative on consecutive days in 1885 were the 20th, 21st and 22nd ever rung in that method. A silent peal of Stedman triples is recorded in 1886, each ringer having previously called a peal with the same figures. Miss Edith K Parker called Superlative here in 1911 and was the first and only lady to conduct a peal on the original ring of eight.

The last peal on the bells before recasting was Stedman Triples. It was also the 220th. The new ring of eight, 28-2~9 in D flat (1912), had as first peals Stedman triples, these two peals being Pitstow’s variation of Thurstans’ Four part.

As time went on it was suggested that this ring was ‘unmusical’, and after two hundred and twenty peals had been recorded, recasting with a new tenor (in D flat, of 28 cwts 2 qrs, 9 lbs) took place in 1912. Appeals were launched early in 1914 for £240 to add four small bells to make a ring of twelve. The fund was slow to accumulate and when war broke out later that year the money was invested in War Loans. After the Armistice further appeals were made, and two new trebles were added in 1922. One was the gift of W W Worthington Esq, and the other provided by parishioners and friends in memory of those who had given their lives. This ring of ten bells has continued in use to the present day, and the tower has a total of three hundred and eighty two peals recorded [in 1974].

The Great War of 1914-1918 took Coy Sgt Major H Wakley, Sgt R C Stone and Sgt A P Wakley, who between them had rung 343 peals. With ringing restricted during hostilities and armed forces commitments the band became sadly depleted. However in 1920 two trebles were added, No 1 by W W Worthington Esq., and No 2 by the parishioners, in memory of those who fell in the Great War. The first peal on the ten bells was Stedman Caters.

Around 1925 the ‘Wednesday’ band with Maurice Swinfield as conductor continued with Stedman and some years later the tally was over 230 different callings. R H Dove learned to handle a bell at St Paul’s about this time; scoring his first peal in 1926 at a nearby tower. In the 1930s James George of Birmingham rang the tenor on his 80th birthday to 1201st peal. The year 1945-saw B G Key a lively ringer and conductor at St Paul’s. After the ringing ban of 1940 was lifted a peal of Cambridge Royal was rung by a visiting band. Mrs D T Gardiner conducted Grandsire caters (her farewell peal in 1955 and Miss J: Toon conducted Grandsire, doubles (also her farewell peal) in 1964 and Miss E K Parker Superlative 1971. They appear to be the only three ladies to have called peal here.

Ringing locally before 1874 was very popular as the ‘Society of Change Ringers at Burton’ were subscribers to Clavis Campanologia 1778. Although 366 peals have now [1968] been rung in the tower, attempts are somewhat restricted to three or four per year, quarters being frequently rung. 

bells_leaflet_2023_a5, PDF