Traditions have gone
Does this ring a bell?
Few residents today recall the days when the church bells acted as a kind of airborne news agency. The sound of different combinations of bells floating over the town could tell you about a fire, who had died and their age, when to go to bed - even remind you when Pancake Tuesday had arrived.
The pancake bells (fourth and fifth) rang on Shrove Tuesday morning to remind Coleshill housewives to use up all the left-over flour, eggs and fat in the house - foods forbidden during Lent.
Blues and twos
The treble and tenor (the bells at opposite ends of the ring) were rung to warn of a fire.
For whom the bell tolls
Today, a bell is rarely tolled for funerals. But tradition has it that the bell would give the gender and age. A man would have three strokes rung three times; a woman two strokes three times; and a child three strokes only. The age was indicated with one stroke for each year of life.
Before clocks were common, everyone relied on church clocks for telling the time. The day would begin and end with the curfew bells - the fifth would ring the curfew at 8pm, and the tenor the month. Curfew, from the Norman French for covering the fire, minimised the risk of wood and thatch structures catching fire.
You are not hearing things at Christmas if you heard Little Donkey and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star coming from the tower: it really is possible to play tunes on the bells. It's a good test of bell control as well as fun and a chance for the ringers to do something different, so listen out nearer Christmas.
When the children are getting you up early on Christmas Day, bell ringers will be trudging through the dark to ring the bells for the early morning service. And they will be there, too on New Year's Eve to see out the old year and welcome in the new. Listen out for us.