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            The Parish Church of St. Mary,

           Penwortham

                                            The Tower  and Bells


The Tower


The Tower is in the perpendicular style. It has a projecting vice in the south east corner, and on a gargoyle on the south side is a defaced shield.

The belfry windows are of two lights with cinquefoiled (five leaf) heads and tracery under a pointed arch and hood mould.  The south and west belfry windows were sealed internally with light concrete blocks to within about one foot of the top in 1970 in order to improve the sound of the bells in the churchyard below.

The glass in the west window of the Tower can best be viewed from the ringing loft when supervised access can be obtained.  In the top lights are the Greek capital letters alpha and omega, and two stars of David.  It is sai that this window was put in the late 19th century or early 20th century as a memorial to the Rawstorne family and that it bore the Achievements of the Diocese of Lichfield, Chester and Manchester.  These Achievements do not now appear in the window, although shields from the earlier period do.  In the left  and right hand lights are two imprecisely executed shields: in the left, argent three chevrons gules impaling azure three martlets or; in the right the shield is even more indistinct;  a quartering with chevrons impales three martlets.  These two shields appear to be cheap Victorian work. More attractive is the shield in the centre light: gules three lions passant regardant or.  This would be early 19th century or 18th century.  Below it is a crudely executed modern shield, argent a cross or,  breaking a cardinal rule of heraldry.


The Clock


There has been a clock in the tower for a long time. In the 17th century it was the minister’s job to wind it. In 1887 Hewitson remarked that its diamond face “would not we believe, object to a new coat of paint and gold leaf”. 1959 saw the end of the hard work of winding the clock, when the sprawling clockwork mechanism was replaced by a small box containing an electric motor.


The Bells


First mention of bells at Penwortham is in the Inventory of Church Goods (1552), which credits the Church with “thre bells…ij sacring bells”.  Sacring bells were - and in many church still are - used during the Communion service.  But the two (ij) that were at Penwortham were probably little used after the reformation and in 1636 seem to have been given to the Minister as payment for looking after the Church clock.

In 1712 there were four bells in the tower.  They were than recast into a ring of five by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester at “his founding house in Preston”.  The five new bells were hung in a frame with space for another bell to be added later.


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