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It is known that a John Stephens of Witheridge brought the 'five bells of Barnstaple', and it has been suggested that the religious house for Clunia monks at Pilton was the source of these bells. As he paid over the going rate for them, it is unlikely that they were for speculation., and it is probable that he gave them to the church at Witheridge; indeed the church certainly had five bells by 1552. John Stephens was a man of strong traditional views, for in 1549 he took up arms for the old Catholic religion as part of the Prayer Book Rebellion, which began in Sampford Courtenay. John was killed in the 'Rebellyon Time', probably at the Clist Heath Battle near Exeter in the August of that year when the rebellion was crushed. The five bells were replaced in 1754, the foundry being that of William Evans at Chepstow. A further bell was added in 1800, and the last two were obtained in 1889, and they were all rehung in 1926.

In the Tower are eight bells:-

Tenor - Let my sound move thee to God's Glory 1754. The Revd Thomas Melhuish, Vicar.

VII - Rev P Dicken Vicar, Mr James Matthews and Mr John Cooke, Churchwardens 1800:

VI - We were all cast at Chepstow by W Evans 1754

V - Peace and good neighbourhood 1754

IV - Prosperity to the town and parish 1754

III - Come let us ring for Church and King 1754

II - Mears and Stainbank 1889

I - Mears and Stainbank 1889

1. All hats to be taken off in the Belfry.

2. Each member shall pay One Shilling per annum to the Belfry Fund.

3. There shall be two Practice Nights in the week from 8 to 9.30pm.

4. On Sundays, Ringers shall be in the Belfry at 10.30am and 6pm, or forfeit One Penny. Absentees, without a satisfactory excuse, shall forfeit Three pence for each Service.

5. Sunday Ringers shall receive at least a double share of all monies given at Christmas, and shall be entitled to all monies given at Weddings, and for which they ring.

6. Any alteration of Rules, of which at least 7 days notice has been given, may be made by a majority of ringers.

7. The Bells shall be muffled between the death and burial of any person within the following radius: Drayford Weir, West Yeo, Dart Raffe Essebeare, South Coombe and Providence.

8. No person joining after Mid-summer shall receive money at the following Christmas.

9. All fines shall be equally distributed amongst the Sunday Ringers at the end of the year.

(Signed.) J P Benson, Vicar

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

Unless otherwise indicated on the page in question, the photographic images reproduced on this site belong to the Witheridge Archives, and, as such may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission. However, you are welcome to use any of the photographs belonging to the archive for personal and/or non-commercial use. Any material shown as not being owned by the archive may not be reproduced in any form without first receiving written permission from the owner of the material in question. The copyright for the illustration of the 1540 Pilton Priory Bells Arrival belongs to Witheridge Artist and Illustrator Jenny Bidgood.