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October 1901 - Badsey's Bells (with extracts from December 1901 and January 1902)

Monthly Magazine for the Parishes of S James, Badsey, with Aldington & S John Baptist, Wickhamford
Transcription of article


Mr. C. A. Binyon, who is taking a great interest in the Bells and other historical matters connected with our Parishes, has sent us the following account of the inscription on the tenor bell in Badsey Tower. It will form a useful addition to a note on the bells which appeared in our local magazine of March, 1898. While speaking of the bells we should mention that Mrs. Sladden very kindly had a Rummage Sale in their barn in aid of the fund for two new bells on Saturday, September 21, when the substantial sum of rather more than £9 was realised.

 The inscription on the Tenor Bell is a very remarkable one. It is in Latin as follows:


The translation has been given in a former magazine as: "The watchful care of Robert Hill, Vicar of that place, changed us into six. William. Clark did the work by his own skill. In the year--." There is also a monogram IHS about which I shall have something more to say later. At first sight the inscription seems to have been very carelessly done, as some of the letters are very much larger than others, and although ANO (in the year) occurs, there is no year mentioned. But if we look closely at it, we shall see that only certain, letters are made large and these are all letters used in the ancient Roman way of writing numbers, such as those which we still use at the heading of the Psalms in the Prayer Book, and with which we are all familiar. V means 5, X 10, etc. In the inscription we find: One M which stands for 1,000; one X (10); seven V's (35); eleven I's (11) five L's (250); four C's (400) ; these all added together, 1706; the date the bells were cast, as we know from other sources. This kind of inscription is called a chronogram, and is very rare on bells, though there are a few more in this district; one by the same founder, William Clark, being at Hinton-on-the-Green, the only one in Gloucestershire. It is interesting to notice that Robert Hill first appears as Vicar of Badsey in the year 1705. He died in 1730. Robert Hill was Vicar at the time when Rob. Pigeon and Tho. Byrd were churchwardens, whose names appear on the 4th Bell. It seems most likely then, that up to the year 1707 there were only three bells, and that about that time three more were added when Robert Hill was Vicar.

December 1901 Magazine


The inscription on this bell is very short. It has an ornamental border and the letters M. B. F. Between the M and the B, and also on the opposite side of the bell, occurs the same monogram found on the tenor. It is I. H. S., which may be taken to mean either the first three letters of Jesus in the Greek, or Jesus hominum salvator, the Latin for Jesus the Saviour of men. On our bells the H is surmounted by a cross and the whole is enclosed in a square. This furnishes a clue to the meaning of M. B. F., for at Pebworth an identical monogram is found, and the letters are formed in exactly the same way on the smaller bells there, one of which is inscribed Micahel Bushell Mad Me 1707. So that undoubtedly M. B. F. means Michael Bushell founder. Mr. H. B. Walters, of the British Museum, corroborates this, and has given me much additional information about bells by these founders, Clark and Bushell.

January 1902 Magazine


The fourth bell's inscription is:


It was usual to put the names of churchwardens on one bell of a peal at this time. The fact of three names appearing is interesting, as it shows that Aldington had a separate warden. This bell is the only one of the six which has not the sacred monogram, but the letters are the same as the smaller ones used in the tenor inscription. The three lightest bells have only the monogram enclosed in the square as on the fifth. From the inscriptions it is evident that the bells were all cast by the same founders and in the same year, A.D. 1706. Very little is known about these founders, Clark and Bushell. Their foundry was most probably at Evesham. Their bells are confined to this district, and as far as I know Badsey is the only peal of six cast by them. In most cases they re-casted old bells. Clark's inscriptions were either churchwardens' names or else in Latin. Badsey treble bell is 30 inches in diameter, and the tenor 45 inches, considerably larger than in most peals of six.