peal band with William Francis at front1918 - 2010

Bill Francis was a chorister at All Saints Claverley from 1925 and a bell-ringer here from 1929. He was Tower Captain from 1975-85 following in the footsteps of Ernest Drew who was Hereford Guild Master 1960- 61. Apart from Joan Bennett, widow of Fred, Guild Treasurer and popular WI curcuit raconteur, who survives well into her nineties and who was present at Bill’s funeral on Monday, 6th December, Bill was the last survivor of the illustrious Claverley band formed after the augmentation of the bells in 1929.

A peal was rung by a Hereford band in November 2004 to celebrate his 75 years as a ringer (see photo).

Bill was born bred and died (near-by) in Claverley a true Shopshire Lad. He was an unassuming man who worked for a local farmer all his life and was devoted to the church. He rang just one peal for the Guild and was content to ring simple touches of the three basic methods for Sunday services and at the weekly practices. On New Year’s Eve he would come out of the Middle pub to ring at midnight quite normally although hardly able to stand. He saw to the ropes, the clock, the stays, the greasing, the pigeon droppings and anything to be done in the tower for more than 50 years. He has been a source of knowledge, guidance and friendship to me for 40 years and in particular the last 25 since I feebly stepped into his shoes.

It is quite difficult for me to see, sometimes how bell-ringing as I was taught it can survive without the likes of Bill. He will, I’m sure have gone straight to that great ringing chamber in the sky with the half-muffled sound of the bells he loved ringing in his weather-beaten ears.

God bless him.


BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers