The tower of the new church at Bishopstoke, Hampshire, is nearing completion, we are told; but with regard to the bells things are being made difficult for the Rector by a few parishioners. There are three bells in the old church tower, which is half a mile away from the new tower. A faculty was applied for and granted by the Chancellor at the Consistory Court of Winchester, with a stay of fourteen days. This Faculty was for the removal of the clock and the three bells to the new tower. Unfortunately an appeal has been lodged by aggrieved parishioners, which has to be heard by the Court of Arches next month. These bells date back to 1589, 1598, and 1600, but the church and tower were only built in 1825. We are told that those who are in opposition to the Rector are, as usual, quite ignorant of bells and bellringing. The majority of the parishioners wish the Rector success with his scheme, being without bells here.

The new tower is to be named “The Keppel Memorial tower.” The late Admiral Keppel lived at Bishopstoke, and it is with the consent of his family that the new tower has been so named.

Our informant adds: “We often hear people talk of Hampshire hogs; some of them seem to be in residence at Bishopstoke.” The opposition to the Vicar’s proposals certainly appear to be as frivolous as it is vexatious.

The Bell News No. 1431, September 4, 1909, page 342


Another eight bell tower is being added to the Winchester Guild. Bishopstoke, Hants, being now in possession of an octave soon to be ready for ringing. The first 720 (Bob Minor) on the front six, which are already hung, was rung on Friday by: A. Wilson 1, E. Aliffe 2, G. Pullinger 3, O. H. Giles 4, G. Grant 5, W. T. Tucker (conductor) 6. It was the first 720 by A. Wilson and E. Aliffe. The 7th and tenor bells arrived the same day from the foundry of Messrs. Llewellins and James, of Bristol, who are carrying out the work.

The Ringing World No. 1267, April 22nd, 1921, page 225


The silver jubilee of the bells at Bishopstoke, Hants, was celebrated on Sunday, June 23rd. The day was kept as “Ringers’ Sunday,” and in the afternoon a special service was held. Many parishioners and others were also able to make their first inspection of a belfry and see ringing in actual operation.

Bishopstoke possesses three 16th century bells. They are inscribed: “In God is my hope, 1589”; “Give thanks to God, 1598” and “Seek the Lord, 1600.” Two other bells were added in 1910, the gift of Mr. Henry White, and were first rung on June 22nd of that year. It is the jubilee of this event that has just been celebrated. The octave was completed in 1920, when three tenors were added as a war memorial. The sixth is inscribed, “Peace”; the seventh, “Thanksgiving”; the tenor, “Victory.” The tenor, it is interesting to note, was cast from the old clock bells from the railway carriage works at Eastleigh, and were presented by the directors of the old London and South-Western Railway Co. as a memorial to the men of the L. and S.W.R. who fell in the Great War.

There were ringers present at the jubilee service from Bishopstoke, Basingstoke, Bishop’s Waltham, Dibden, Gillingham (Dorset), North Stoneham, Southampton, Winchester, Upham, Owslebury, Winchester and Uckfield (Sussex). Among those present were three who took part in the opening of the ring of five 25 years ago, Messrs. C. Ayliffe, G. Grant and W. T. Tucker. Three ringers also took part in the service, viz., Mr. V. H. Harris, diocesan lay reader, who read the lesson; Mr. R. C. H. Connolly, of North Stoneham, who was at the organ; and Mr. G. Griffin, of Bishopstoke, who acted as organ blower. The address was delivered by another ringer, the Rev. E. Bankes James, whose text was “There go the ships” (Psalm civ., 26).

Both before and after the service touches of Cambridge Major, Double Norwich, Kent, Stedman, Bob Major and Grandsire were rung.

The Ringing World No. 1267, July 5th, 1935, page 432

Bishopstoke Bells are the Best (Part 2)

The new ten at Bishopstoke were dedicated on Sunday 18th June during the evening service at the end of the flower festival. Prior to the service a quarter peal was rung by a band drawn from the local ringers and others who had helped with the installation. The anticipated congregation of about 150 was actually over 200 with more than 100 ringers joining in for this special occasion. As well as the usual hymns and prayers the service also included a rendition of the Bishopstoke song given by members of the Eastleigh Operatic and Dramatic Society. This was now being performed for the first time since the various chorus lines had come true. Since two extra verses had also been added to bring the song up-to-date it’s worthwhile printing the song again:

Dirty but happy, Roy LeMarechal and John Dodd
Two men

Bishopstoke Bells are the best

The grottiest bells in this district of ours
Are hung in the belfries of most other towers.
Take any tenor - examine the lot -
You’ll find it’s a bucket as likely as not.
Bishopstoke, Bishopstoke bells are the best,
I wouldn’t give twopence for all of the rest.

Winchester Cathedral’s fourteen bells of tin,
On Wednesdays and Sundays they make such a din.
The striking’s abysmal, they ring far to slow,
and just on the light eight whenever we go.
For Bishopstoke bells are tuneful and nice
and worth any others at double the price.

The dustbins of Romsey aren’t all to be found
In gardens! There’s eight that are high off the ground.
They’re in the church belfry with its wooden hat,
And they ring them too quick and they sound dull and flat.
Bishopstoke, Bishopstoke bells are the best,
I wouldn’t give twopence for all of the rest.

The Hursley ten now are a rough-going lot,
The treble’s a milkchurn, the tenor’s a pot.
The ten at North Stoneham are tunelessly cast,
And the tenor’s too small and turns over too fast.
Bishopstoke, Bishopstoke bells are the best,
They’re tuneful and well-struck compared with the rest.

And all through the district each band is the same,
And in striking contests they don’t play the game.
They argue with judges, and cheer when they’ve won,
And practice before hand which ruins the fun.
For Bishopstoke’s all that a tower should be,
And all of the ringers are great company!

Now the Whitechapel foundry who cast our new ten,
Broke one of the moulds and then there were nine.
But all was not lost for they cast a new bell. Then went
down the pub with their story to tell.
For Bishopstoke ringers are honest and good,
And clever and modest and misunderstood.

Now you all know Roy, he’s a grand chap, you’ve heard,
For all of his bullying got really absurd.
For the money was raised and now he can rest,
And the Bishopstoke bells will now ring with new zest!
Oh, Bishopstoke, Bishopstoke bells are the best
When we ring them now, we know they’re the best.

The new ten ready to ring

After the service the local ringers provided suitable refreshments while all those present enjoyed listening to and ringing the bells till nearly 9.00 pm. The opportunity was also taken for group photographs of Bishopstoke bands past and present.

When a mediocre to average ring of bells is replaced the difference is noticeable. When an octave with such appalling characteristics as the old Bishopstoke bells is replaced the difference is just out of this world. That was the overall impression of all those present.

The bills have been settled and the interest free loan is well on the way to being paid off. By the end of the year the ringers bank account should be in the black again. With a strong and enthusiastic band, and now a first class set of bells, ringing at Bishopstoke will continue in a very healthy state for many years to come.


Bishopstoke, Hants. 19 June, 1282 Cambridge S Royal: John Colliss 1, Roy LeMarechal (C) 2, John Dodd 3, Julie Hodkin 4, James Hodkin 5, Graham Wright 6, Martin Waldron 7, Peter Blythe 8, John Hallett 9, Roger Bailey 10. Rung immediately prior to the dedication service of the new bells.

St Mary’s Bishopstoke, Hants

The Ringing World No. 4395, July 21, 1995, page 764