al ♫ was ♪ this ♫ glad land
fain ♫ fulfild ♪ of ♫ fayerye
church ♪ bells ♫ and ♪ bird ♫ song

Often enough I'm out and about in our beautiful and historic Maiden Bradley when the bells begin to play. Their insistent soundtrack never fails to transport me back a few centuries to a time when church tintinnabulation meant more to us all than it tends to do nowadays in our modern scientific world. Back to a time when divine reward and punishment kept us all on our toes and the seasons perchance turned more slowly. The lovely sound of church bells envelope our rustic downland corral in a magic spell of Christendom and floats us off on fine reveries...o'er the hills and far away. Some complain about bell ringing cacophony disturbing a generally quiet village. Mostly though we all enjoy these timely sentimental wake-up calls. Heralding, as they surely do, a timeless vision of olde England. That once and future place where an earthly heaven of recalled childhood innocence transports any mythic dreamer to an everlasting land of hope and glory.


So, Brigadoon is OK with this time traveller. But, what's actually going on inside All Saints Bell Tower? Let's peer a little closer, step-by-step, and go '"upside down potholing". For certain, narrow is the word whilst navigating the spiraling (and cobwebby) stone stairs. That astute enough quip of mine gave Colin Dowson (local bell ringer with 50 years experience) and I a bit of a chuckle. Colin, my underworld guide up this thin corkscrew labyrinth, explained that lime mortar (not rigid concrete) is still used in bell tower construction because of its flexibility under the relentless rhythmic pressure of heavy swaying bells. One was reminded of how soldiers are said to march out of sync over bridges to avoid their downfall. 

                                                                                                                                                                         All Saints bell (upside down)

Church Bells (recast - 1895: Mears & Stainbank, Whtechapel Bell Foundry, London) at church gate - 1896

NOTE: This item is somewhat of a scoop for Maiden Bradley Village website as there are (surprisingly) NO pics of tower interior and contents (especially the six bells in situ) extant on the Internet. If anyone has additional material (including ephemera, anecdotes, etc) - do feel free to submit copy to this website [see Homepage for contact details].

Our site is strictly for non-commercial, educational and reference purposes only. The origination is our own. However, should any copyright material be mirrored or sampled on these pages and which its owner wishes removed, please email to state your case.  - John Potts (website owner)


Tower Overview

Three-stage tower has moulded plinth, diagonal buttresses, 3-light west window with reticulated tracery, octagonal clock face, bell-stage has string course, 2-light Perpendicular windows with louvres, cornice to plain parapet with corner gargoyles, polygonal stair turret to north east Tudor arched doorway, parapet with open quatrefoils.
English Heritage via British Listed Buildings

There was a major reconstruction in 1385, which created the church that we see today. The present chancel, nave, south aisle, tower, and porch were built while the north aisle was rebuilt on old foundations. The tower seems to have been built in two stages for the lower part is in the Decorated style while the top, like the porch, is Perpendicular [ In c.1800 the turret on the tower was added ]. The gallery and barrel organ were removed and the present organ chamber built in 1884, while five of the six bells were recast in 1895.
Wiltshire Community History

Tower height: 50 feet
Number of steps: 60 (3 sets of 20)

*research links only entered once - open a second Tab for Bells a-z and/or Glossary support

Nearby Towers

Horningsham (St John the Baptist) 3.2 miles
Kingston Deverill (St Mary) 4.5 miles
Stourton (St Peter) 5.4 miles
Mere (St Michael Archangel) 6.5 miles
Longbridge Deverill (Ss Peter & Paul) 6.8 miles
Zeals (St Martin) 7.3 miles

Clock Room and Ringing Chamber

< arrow = tower staircase / oval = clock/ringing room / circle = belfry (bell-stage)

Behind the wide, decorative faces of church clocks are large mechanisms. Some towers also contain machines known as 'carillons', which play the bells in a similar fashion to a keyboard, using hammers to strike to notes.


In the ringing chamber ringers use the ropes to control the bells. The ropes come down from the ceiling in a circle by the pitch of the bell - usually so the strikes go clockwise around the room in descending pitch. Bell ringers stand in an inward-facing circle behind the ropes. Often you will find floor mats used to prevent rope wear, boxes for the shorter ringers, and seats for extra ringers

Louvres: These baffle-boarded sound windows
are seen on the outside of tower and help to
spread the sound. more
Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers
Annual Report 2012 (Pub: Mar 2013)   sdgr.org

Bells           6

         13-2-7 in F

Grid Ref

    by arrangement

Tue 1930 to 2100

           Harry Crabbe, 88 Frome Road, Maiden Bradley,
                 Warminster, BA12 7JA
Tel             01985 844517
Email          cpcrabbe@hotmail.co.uk

Members    Mrs Pippa Brearley, Mrs Christine Crabbe,
                 Henry Crabbe (TC), Peter Dean, Colin Dowson,
                 Mrs Pat Kennedy, David Morse, Kiera Stevens

Key           Henry Crabbe 01985 844517 / David Morse 51 The Knapp


Tower Captain (TC) Bell ringing teams are managed by a Tower Captain whose appointment is in the gift of the parish priest, ideally after consulting the local ringers. Usually the Tower Captain is one of the most experienced members of the band. This person should be acceptable to both the ringers and the parish priest. When a new parish priest is installed, it is his/her responsibility to decide whether to reappoint the current Tower Captain. During a vacancy/interregnum, the responsibility of the parish priest transfers to the Rural Dean who has the responsibility to appoint/reappoint a Tower Captain on a temporary basis until a new parish priest has been installed should the need arise. The parish priest can, if there are sound reasons, terminate the appointment of the Tower Captain at any time, but this should be done in consultation with the Churchwardens and PCC and, in such circumstances, it is recommended that the Branch secretary of the Lincoln Guild is consulted in the first instance.

Tower Correspondent (Corr) The LDGCBR publishes an annual report containing a list of Tower Correspondents to facilitate contact with ringers in the Diocese. The Tower Correspondent is often someone other than the Tower Captain. Where there are no resident ringers, the tower correspondent may be a ringer from a neighbouring tower or the parish priest or a churchwarden. The parish priest must be happy with the named person and agree mechanisms for asking and granting permission to ring the bells.
source (PDF)


This plaque (base missing - silver, or silver plate, approx 1 1/2" high) was advertised on eBay in May 2013, probably sourced from a house clearance and acquired at auction for resale. Sold for £0.99 (p&p 7.20). The token commemorates Mr John Scanes retirement from the Maiden Bradley Voluntary Bell ringers band.  The only record that might fit the name is:

Jul-1901 - SCANES Mr – possibly schoolmaster Maiden Bradley

Invite, Maiden Bradley Parish News - Oct 2013


In this section of our tinnitus themed photo-essay we take a look at All Saints Bell Tower surrounds and main architectural motifs. Some of these things will lead on to other Maiden Bradley Village website articles associated with our local church, its design, and history. For example; the All Saints gargoyles (quite conservative entities when compared to the famously flagrant sheela-na-gigs at St Mary the Virgin, West knoyle) will need an item all to themselves.

(Do open a new tab/s in your browser for Bells a-z and/or Glossary to keep up with any unfamiliar terms.)
click pics to ENLARGE

Long shot - south-east. Tower door is bottom left of church clock.

South face [SF] view from porch (policed by gargoyles).

The bell ringers room window.

Left SF gargoyle (looking cute),

Right SF gargoyle (NOT a grotesque - see note)

Turning the corner into west face of tower.

3-light west window with reticulated tracery - west face

Octagonal clock face (has seen better days).

Turning into north face (to the way in).

NO gargoyle! (wonder what  happened?).

On the east face something else is amiss. . .

West face of tower full on.

Left, around balustrade to church porch - starts our survey. . .

Small window of bell ringers room under bell-stage louvres.

Belfry (bell-stage) 2-light louvres with gargoyle guard.

Middle SF gargoyle (with its own lead rain hat).


In architecture the term "grotesque" means a carved stone figure. Grotesques are often confused with gargoyles, but the distinction is that gargoyles are figures that contain a water spout through the mouth, while grotesques do not. This type of sculpture is also called a chimera. Used correctly, the term gargoyle refers to mostly eerie figures carved specifically as terminations to spouts which convey water away from the sides of buildings. In the Middle Ages, the term babewyn was used to refer to both gargoyles and grotesques. This word is derived from Italian word babbuino, meaning "baboon". - Wikipedia

On the balustrade a lamp to light the way..

Clock, 2-light louvres, (flagpole) - upper  west face.

West face louvres (for spreading the sound).

North face (nice view - but what's gone?).

Left north face gargoyle can be our model for lost one
as  the 4 tower corner spout guards were all the same.

Yes, well spotted - blocked louvres. (Just a guess,
but nearby Bradley House is in that direction.)

Time to enter the labyrinth. . .