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Church Bells Removed for Refurbishment

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The six bells of All Saints Church have been removed for refurbishment and will be rehung in a reinforced frame.

During the Reformation in the short reign of Edward VI, an inventory of Church bells in England was taken (Cuddesdon included), and the entry read:  “4 belles and 1 litle bell".  None of these bells from the 1550s now exist, and they would have been replaced by the three bells made in 1617 by Henry Knight of Reading, which are now the second, third and fourth bells of the present ring;   the treble was cast in 1795 and may also have originally been a Henry Knight bell.   Later there was added the fifth of 1677 and the tenor of 1709, but these were eventually replaced by the Whitechapel fifth and tenor of 1863,  which are here today.

The six bells hang in the central tower, hung for “full circle ringing” in a wooden frame with wheels and ropes, to enable ringers to ring the bells from a ringing room high in the tower.  In recent years they have become somewhat challenging to ring, so that hearing these lovely bells has become a rare occurrence. Thus the decision was taken as part of the overall restoration project at All Saints to remove the bells, and they have gone to the Church Bellhangers, Whites of Appleton.  The bellframe is to be reinforced,  and in the new year time five of these bells will be rehung.

 

 

 The bell that will not be included in the six is the present treble (lightest) bell, which has been found to be porous. Thus a brand new treble bell was cast at the famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 2017 – on the very last day that the foundry cast bells after some five hundred years of bell casting !  This treble bell is inscribed  “To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Dr. Christopher Ware, 1955 – 2006”.  Very few bells exist in England that are not similarly dedicated, and below is a list of the Cuddesdon bells with their founders names, dates and weights.   The oak frame dating from the seventeenth century was renovated in 1949 by Messrs. R. White & Son, who then rehung the treble, fifth & tenor with new gear, type E.  The fittings of the remaining bells,  type C, date from the 19th. century.

See the bells' specifications here.

New ringers are being trained at St Giles, Horspath, (on much “easier” bells, it has to be said), and in the new year Cuddesdon will hear their lovely bells, which are from the 17th, 19th and 21st centuries, calling again from that majestic tower on the hill!


Brian Lowe

Acting Tower Captain, All Saints,  Cuddesdon.  October 2017