Bluebells Donated to Castle Bromwich Graveyard
St Mary & St Margaret’s bellringers have been planting bulbs at the grave of John and Lucy Williams in Castle Bromwich graveyard. It is thanks to this couple that the ring of six bells hangs in the church tower, and the bulbs were, appropriately, bluebells.
John, born in 1872, was the Castle Bromwich blacksmith and a lifelong bellringer. In the tower is a photograph of the bellringers in 1905, of whom John Williams is one. He died in 1926 aged 54 and it was in his memory that his wife Lucy bequeathed a legacy to recast the bells. She died in 1949 at the age of 78, 23 years after her husband.
The five bells installed by Sir John Bridgeman II of Castle Bromwich Hall in 1717 would have sounded archaic by the 1950s by which time all new bells were scientifically tuned. The old bells were recast from the original metal by the noted Croydon bell founders, Gillett & Johnston, and were first officially rung on 22 November 1952.
John Williams’ smithy stood on Castle Bromwich Green; his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been blacksmiths. The latter, also John Williams, was paid £5.16s.5d. in 1785 “for new hanging the bells” at St Mary & St Margaret’s church.
The planting was carried out by the youngest bellringers Vicky, Mitchell and Chris under the watchful eye of Stuart Stanton and Jean Willis, respectively chair and secretary of Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project. They were helped out by Terri Knibb of the Castle Bromwich Graveyard Project and the plants were kindly donated by Hall’s Garden Centre and Florists, Castle Bromwich. After the event the bells were rung to commemorate John and Lucy Williams’ gift to the church.