Church Bells

Church Bells2016-12-01T13:43:20+00:00

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.

The new peal of ten bells was dedicated on 5 June 1920.

Bell Weight (kg) Weight (cwt/qtrs/lbs) Inscription
Treble 196 3/3/12 Thanks be to God for Victory and Peace, (Peace Bell) 1918.
Second 241 4/3/00 To the glory of God and in memory of the men of Cullompton who died for their country in the Great War, 1914 – 1918.
Third 239 4/2/22 Thomas Bilbie, fecit, 1781 : recast 1920.
Fourth 266 5/1/07 Recast at the expense of E.M and HW Hill, 1891 : recast 1920.
Fifth 337 6/2/17 God save the King, 1746.
Sixth 382 7/2/04 Cast us all, January, 1746, Thomas Bilbie of Chewstoke.
Seventh 427 8/1/18 Mr John Martyn, Mr William Wright, Mr Anthony Heathfield.
Eighth 610 12/0/00 Mr Philip Martin, Mr Tho. Heathfield, Henry Cruwys, Esqr. Recast 1920.
Ninth 729 14/1/11 Recast by John Warner & Sons, London, 1891.
Tenth 922 19/2/04 Me resonare jubent – pietus mors – atque Voluptas – 1746. Richard Bevis, Esq., Richard Harvard Wills, Thomas Hone, Franc. Webb, CH Wards, Bilbie the Founder, Bush the hanger, Heathfield the man that rings the tenor, 1746.