Published on July 15th, 2014 | by Bill Dargue0
Castle Bromwich Church Tower – the Most Visited
An unlikely visitor attraction in North Solihull, Castle Bromwich church tower has become the most visited in Birmingham.
Tucked away in the northernmost tip of Solihull borough is the Grade I Listed church of St Mary & St Margaret. Dating from the 12th century, Castle Bromwich church had a new tower built in 1725 by lord of the manor, Sir John Bridgeman II to house a peal of five bells.
The church stands at the heart of Castle Bromwich Conservation Area alongside Sir John’s Castle Bromwich Hall, now a luxury hotel, and Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, restored by a charitable trust to 18th-century style and open to the public.
Recent visitors were the Friday cub group of Castle Bromwich 237th Scouts who were taken by local historian, Bill Dargue through the churchyard to look across the Chelmsley Collector Road at Pimple Hill. Now unnoticed between the A452 and the M6 this Scheduled Ancient Monument is the site of Bromwich Castle built after the Norman Conquest nearly a thousand years ago. It was one of the early Norman lords who built the small chapel here first documented in 1165.
In the church the youngsters took turns to sit in the private pews of the Bridgeman family, some taking their places where King George V and Queen Mary, as well as Prime Minister Disraeli, sat on their visits to Castle Bromwich Hall.
From the top of the 18th-century tower the cubs had a view of over 20 miles around, clear sight of the Hall and of the Jaguar factory where some 12,000 Spitfires were produced during the Second World War.
Members of the Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project have welcomed many parties of adults and youngsters over the past year to raise awareness of their efforts to restore the bells. The installation was not well constructed in 1893 and is now in serious need of a thorough overhaul. And so the church tower has become the most visited in the diocese of Birmingham with some 500 visitors climbing its 99 steps over the past twelve months.
The ringers aim to raise £100,000. “It’s a lot of money for a small group,” admits Jean Willis, treasurer of
the Restoration Project, “but we’re on our way and we welcome all the help we can get!”
No trip up the tower is complete without having a go at ringing the bells. Each of the cubs made themselves heard across the parish before making a donation to the Bell Restoration Fund.
Groups wishing to visit the church can get in touch with the bell ringers via their website – cbbells.webs.com.