Pebworth Church Bells Pebworth Church Ringers

Michael Bushell

Michael Bushell worked with William Clark at Evesham, Worcs, casting bells. Between them, from 1704-1711, they cast some 30 bells, all but two of which still exist and which included one ring of 6, two rings of 5 and one ring of 4. Very little is known about either of these men, or where they learnt their trade. Bellfounding is a specialist industry and time spent working with another founder would have been essential to obtaining such skills. Matthew Bagley, of the famous Bagley bellfounding dynasty, cast bells at Evesham from 1687-1690, so there is possibility that Clark may have worked with him to learn the trade.

Clark’s name is the first to appear on a bell. He cast a bell for Offenham, 2 miles NE of Evesham. The bell is undated, but it is thought to have been cast in 1703 or 1704. In 1705 he cast a ring of 5 bells for Hinton-on-the-Green, which is about 2 miles S of Evesham. He gave the tenor a very interesting inscription:

(Wiliam Clark recast me at the orders of Davis Warren and infulfilment of vows)

The bell is not dated in the accepted sense. The inscription is a chronogram. The large letters, if taken as Roman numerals, add up to 1705. These bells are still in existence and form the back 5 of the present ring of 8. The bells were retuned and rehung by Taylors in 1931 and three trebles were added.

William Clark used for the first time here, the trade mark that continued to be used up until the end of his and Bushell's casting period. This was the sacred IHS symbol in an outline square, with a cross joined to and surmounting the cross-bar of the 'H'.

Micheal Bushell Inscription

Michael Bushell's name, or at least his initials, appear for the first time of the 5th of the ring of 6 cast in 1706 for Badsey, about 2 miles E of Evesham. Clark's name does not appear on this bell, so it may assumed that Bushell cast it. This collaboration suggests that that Bushell may have become a partner in the business. An employee is unlikely to have been allowed to have the privilege of his name or initials cast on a bell. The Badsey bells are interesting. They are the only ring of 6 cast by Clark and Bushell, and the tenor is the largest bell to have been cast at the Evesham foundry. The bells were placed in a new 8-bell, low-side cast-iron bellframe in 1897 by Taylors, although no bell had its fittings renewed. The frame is one of the earliest low-side frames installed by Taylors; and it looks surprisingly similar to their modern-day products. The two spare pits were filled in 1902 by trebles from Mears & Stainbank. In 1950, Taylors renewed all the bell fittings, but were instructed not to tune the C&B bells, which were - and still are - maidens. It is therefore possible to hear the entirely original sound of a ring of bells by Clark and Bushell. They are remarkably good, particularly considering they are all maidens (they all display their mould marks quite clearly), and this adds weight to the suggestion that William Clark had excellent training in the bellfounding business somewhere. Again, as Hinton's bells, none has a date, except the tenor, which is dated via another chronogram:-

(The watchful care of Robert Hill, Vicar here, changed us into six. Wm Clark did the work by his own skill)

The following year, 1707, was a significant year for Michael Bushell, as all the bells except one cast that year carried just his name. The exception was a single bell by Clark, dated in the conventional way (unusually for him), for Whiteladies Aston, near Worcester. The 1707 bells by Bushell included a ring of 5 for Pebworth (tenor recast in 1732), four bells for Henley-in-Arden, Warks, (now bells 2-5 of the 6 there) and a ring of 4 four for Newbold Pacey, near Wellesbourne, Warks.. This is a total, with Clark's bell, of 14 in one year, which is vastly in excess of the
biggest yearly total previously: 6 in 1706.

Something significant happened the year after, too: they cast no more bells. There is a record that a small bell for Combrook, Warks, was cast at Evesham in 1711, but no note of the founder exists. Similarly, there is a record that a John Clark cast a small bell in 1711 for Whatcote, which is only a few miles from Combrook. Was John Clark a relative (son?) of William Clark? What is certain is that William Clark held a lease for the Bell Barn in Evesham in 1711, but there is evidence that these premises and surrounding property were sold that year (Clark is described as 'bellfounder' in the legal documents). These buildings were demolished sometime afterwards to allow the existing large house on the site to be built. The new owner may have waited for William Clark's lease to run out or it may have been terminated. This is probably the reason why no more bellfounding is recorded in Evesham after 1711.

Pebworth Ringing Times

Sunday: Varied. Please check before hand

Practice night:
1st Friday of
every month - 7.30pm


South-east Worcestershire, mid-way between
Evesham and Stratford-upon-Avon.

OS grid reference: SP129469.
Click here for map


St Peter’s Ringing Master:-

Andrew Baker
31 Broad Marston Road
Warks CV37 8XT

01789 721171

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