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The bell frame at St. Margaret’s Church, Stoodleigh, prior to its removal and replacement, was recorded by South West Archaeology Ltd. A desktop assessment was undertaken, and this identified the importance of the patronal Daniel family in the 19th century history of Stoodleigh Church. In particular, Thomas Carew Daniel (1848-1923) seemed to have impoverished his family in the 1880s through the extensive rebuilding he undertook at Stoodleigh Church and his home at Stoodleigh Court. The Church of St. Margaret sits within a rectangular churchyard immediately adjacent to the house and farm of Stoodleigh Barton, one of the original Domesday manors in Stoodleigh parish. While some earlier fragments survived, the fabric of the extant church dated to the 15th century, but was extensively altered and augmented in 1879-80. The bell frame at Stoodleigh Church was contemporary with the installation of a new ring of six bells installed in c.1867 and paid for by Thomas Carew Daniel’s grandfather Thomas Daniel (1798-1872). The oak frame was fairly simple (Pickford type 6.1), with unpegged joints supplemented by iron draw bolts. This frame had become unsafe due to the damage caused by water ingress impacting on its weak design, a design which unwisely attempted to cram six bells into a space suitable for only five. The relationship between the church building and the Daniel family formed an interesting local reflection of regional and national trends in architectural fashion and gentle aspirations (Thomas Carew Daniel was High Sheriff in 1883). The renovations at Court and Church proved a step too far for the Daniels, and the family sold up and left the parish almost as soon as their great works were completed.

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