Thomas Bilbie first established a bell foundry in Cullompton in 1746. He set up in the “West of England Church Bellfoundry” in the Almhouse building paying an annual rent of £1/13/4 to the Overseers of Cullompton for his premises. His trade mark was a series of little bells. The local business continued in the hands of his son Thomas Bilbie Jnr and his grandson Thomas Castleman Bilbie until 1815 when it was sold to a local tin man called William Pannell. It was continued here by Pannell and by his son, Charles T Pannell until the latter removed it to Exeter in 1855. It is believed the Bilbies cast 352 bells for churches in Devon. They also had a foundry in Chewstoke, near Bristol. The Bilbie family cast more than 400 bells at the Cullompton church bell foundry.
For many years Cullompton had a fine ring of eight bells, but it was felt for some time that some of the bells wanted recasting and that the oak cage had had its day. In 1919 the condition of the bells and cage was seriously taken into consideration, and it was decided to have the old cage removed in favour of an iron cage, with steel girders and three bells recast. It was considered an opportune time to endeavour to get two extra bells, one to be in commemoration of peace, and the other in memory of those who had fought and fallen in the war. The funds for re-hanging were soon collected and the two new bells were given. One, the treble, to be known as the ‘Commemoration of Peace Bell’, given by the vicar Rev R.N.F Phillips; and the second, to be known as the ‘Memorial Bell’ by Mr A Burrow. This augmented the eight bells to ten bells. This made Cullompton unique at the time in that it was the only Devon tower with ten bells outside Exeter and Plymouth. The work was carried by Messrs J Taylor & Co of Loughborough and the new peal of ten bells was dedicated on 5 June 1920.
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