The Bells

Bell Tower remedial works and improvements October 2023

There were originally 4 bells in the tower dating from 1626, 1637, 1664 and 1715. In 1898 a new treble was added to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In 1911 the five bells were recast, and a new Tenor added. Most significantly in 1927 due to death-watch beetle damage, the wooden Tower required strengthening and a steelwork frame was added, giving the ringing room its unique configuration of girders that can be seen today.

The bells weights are (in cwt, qtrs. & lbs)

Tenor   7 – 0 – 20

5th        5 – 3 – 24

4th        5 – 0 – 0

3rd        4 – 2 – 14

2nd       4 – 1 – 0

Treble  3 – 3 – 0

Given the collective weight and forces involved, the bells and their frame require continual care and maintenance, and periodically some significant works to keep everything working safely.

The latest works, undertaken in late 2023 involved strengthening the steel frame and replacing the original bearings on the front four bells. At the same time the ringing positions of the ropes for bells two and three were improved to make the ringing of those bells less awkward, particularly for those who are learning.

The works began in October 2023 and were undertaken by Nicholson Engineering Ltd. The project was successfully completed in January and the bells were ringing again on 18th January 2024.

23rd April 2024

Previous major repairs 2011 / 2012

January 30th. It took just one day to remove both headstocks from the 5th and Tenor together with all six wheels for refurbishment at Taylor’s of Loughborough. Previously one set of louvres had been cut out from the east of the Tower to enable them to be lowered to the ground. The two headstocks were lowered direct from the ringing room to the church floor via the ‘viewing’ hatch.

March 12th. The headstocks, now fitted with sealed races, together with the wheels were back at Shenfield. The wheels having new flanges and wider soles. Refitting took tree days before all was pronounced satisfactory. The bells rang out again for the first time in peal for the Thursday Eucharist.

Whilst the headstocks were off the opportunity was taken to check the weight of the Tenor. The original Warner specification was for a tenor of 8cwt. For years the Tenor has been stated as 9cwt. The reality is the Tenor is 365kg. 7cwt.

Half of wheel being hoisted into Tower

Half of wheel going into window of Tower

Bell with Headstock fitted (holds bearings) being hoisted up in Tower then to be lowered into frame

Bell hung in frame

Bell fully assembled with wheel, rope, clapper. Bell balanced in upside down position ready to ring.

Bell in frame with wheel and clapper fitted

Hoisting the Headstock into the Tower

Bell assembled in frame and with wooden stay