St John


The original bell chart, mounted in its oak frame was found in 2002, below the organ loft wooden floor (when this was being cleared out to allow increased ventilation). The chart indicates that the bells were founded by Mears and Stainbank, of the Church Bell Foundry, Whitechapel Road, London, and consisted of a ‘Peal of Six Bells’. The bells were the gift of the 3rd Earl Manvers when the church was consecrated in 1876.

The specific bell details were:

  Note Weight
1 G# 3.1.3
2 F# 3.3.2
3 E 4.0.23
4 D# 4.1.13
5 C# 5.0.15
6 B 6.0.14

It is documented (see Jack Williamson My life on a Nottinghamshire Country Estate (1980)) that the bells could be heard for over five miles on a clear day.

Five of the bells were sold to St Giles Church at West Bridgford in 1953, as they had to be removed owing to structural problems in the tower caused by subsidence, and the lack of funds to carry out the necessary repairs.

It is understood only two of the bells were unaltered, the others being sent by them for re-casting at Taylor’s in Loughborough in order to secure the right musical notes.

The remaining (treble) bell Part of the bell fitting

Perlethorpe retained the single treble bell, which is operated from the rope within the tower area.

One of the earliest links with the ducal family who were resident at Thoresby is from the existence of a 13th century bell perhaps provided for the estate chapel. The bell was re-used, centuries later, fitted into a timber structure at high level on the iron clad Budby Chapel, which itself was brought from Winthorpe, during 1887, by order of Earl Manvers. Remaining at Budby until it was dismantled in 1968.

The Perlethorpe Chapel Terrier dated May 1764, signed by Anthy Reynolds, Vicar of Fdwinstowe, and Isaac Marshall Churchwarden, clearly records a Bell and the Plate belonged to the chapel and it may be the same one was re-used in this ‘new’ chapel. However no description of the bell is given.

George Dawson notes (from the time that the bell was being stored at the Thoresby estate wood-yard, prior to its removal to Loughborough) that it was inscribed:


(The two letters “M” are inverted, and the “Y” is sideways.)

The bell diameter is 18 inches and it weighs 127 pounds. Unfortunately it has lost its canons but the canon piece has a flat surface, an indication of an early bell. The founder is unknown and the lettering on the bell is unique. Stylistically the bell dates from the period 1340 to 1370, a little later than the Parish notes.

The search for a founder associated with this bell continues to prove difficult. The large existing bell founders such as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, was not established until 1570, and the John Taylor Bell Foundry at Loughborough much later, as its initiator Robert Taylor, who was apprenticed to Edward Arnold of St Neots, did not start until 1782.

There are many other smaller bell founders associated with this geographical area, however none appear to be in the date range for our bell. However a Nottingham bell founder William Brasyer de Nottingham, Freeman of Nottingham, appears to be one of the same person as William de Norwyco, who became Freeman of Norwich in 1376 and introduced bell founding into the Norwich area.

One may posture as William Brasyer de Nottingham probably learnt his trade in Nottingham before leaving for Norwich, and therefore, it can be assumed that there were other bell founders of repute operating in the city since before the middle of the fourteenth century, the period whence we seek further information.

There does not appear to be any connection with Birchover in Derbyshire.