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'.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
1st Friday of
every month - 7.30pm
South-east Worcestershire, mid-way between
Evesham and Stratford-upon-Avon.
OS grid reference: SP129469.
here for map
St Peter’s Ringing Master:-
31 Broad Marston Road
Warks CV37 8XT