Bampton Bells

Little is known about the early history of Bampton bells. T.J. Francis in his Religious history of the Parish of Bampton, Devon 2001 at page 17 states "...In 1553 there were four bells in the tower ... in 1729 the second bell was re-cast and 121 lbs. of metal added, making two bells from the one. The cost was 15. 15. 0d for the metal and re-casting and 2. 10. 0d for carriage...". So Bampton church then possessed five bells from 1729 until 1800.

In 1800 these five bells were re-cast into a ring of six by Thomas Bilbie of Cullompton, assisted by Francis Hill of Bradninch. The cost of re-casting and re-hanging in a new timber frame was 123. 12. 6d.

Thus there are now six bells (excluding the Practice Bell) in the tower at Bampton. The details are as follows:

Treble:
"When I call follow all"
T. Bilbie Fecit 1800
Diameter 30 inches Weight 5-2-13.

Second:
Thomas Bilbie Cullompton Fecit 1800
Revd. B. Davey Vicar
Diameter 30 inches Weight 5-2-7.

Third:
Mr Thomas Surridge & Mr William Branscombe
Church Wardens
T. Bilbie Cullompton Fecit 1800
Diameter 33 inches Weight 6-1-18.

Fourth:
T. Bilbie Fecit
"God preserve the Church and King"
Mr. T. Surridge & Mr. W. Branscombe
Ch: Wardens 1800 Revd. B. Davey Vicar
Diameter 34 inches Weight 7-0-10.

Fifth:
Mr. Thomas Surridge & Mr. William Branscombe Ch. W
Revd. B. Davey Vicar T. Bilbie Fecit 1800
Diameter 38 inches Weight 9-0-12.

Tenor:
"I to the Church the living call and to the grave do summon all"
Thomas Bilbie Cullompton Fecit 1800
Diameter 43 inches Weight 14-0-3. (in F#.)

Diameter/Weight details thanks to Andrew Bull [Source: John Scott - Taylor job book]

Thus these six bells were all cast by Thomas Bilbie at Cullompton in 1800. It is unusual to have all bells cast locally by the same founder.

In 1962 these bells were re-tuned and re-hung on ball bearings in a new metal frame by Taylors of Loughborough.

BILBIE - BELL FOUNDERS AND CLOCKMAKERS

In the church of St. Andrew, Chew Stoke in Somerset, there is a memorial plaque to the Bilbie family of bell founders and clockmakers. The plaque records the following information. There is also a display of an early Bilbie bell and clock in the church.

1666 - 1724 Edward Bilbie I
1694 - 1726 Edward Bilbie II
1702 - 1778 Thomas Bilbie
1716 - 1786 Edward Bilbie
1727 - 1780 Thomas Bilbie II of Cullompton
1729 - 1773 Abraham Bilbie
1730 - 1789 William Bilbie
1736 - 1767 John Bilbie of Axbridge
1766 - 1796 Edward Bilbie IV
1768 - 1829 Thomas Webb Bilbie
1768 - 1820 James Fear Bilbie
1769 - 1813 Thomas Castleman Bilbie of Cullompton

Therefore it appears that the founder of our bells was likely to have been Thomas Castleman Bilbie and that he was 31 years of age at the time he cast our bells.


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