The Bells

 

Bell   Weight   Note  Dated   Founder

1        7-0-25     C#       2001     John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd

2        8-1-4       B         1663      John Hodson & William Hull

3        7-2-26     A         1611      Newcombe (generic)

4        9-1-10     G#      1611      Newcombe (generic)

5        14-2-4     F#       2001      John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd

6        17-1-14   E         1805      Robert Taylor
 

Sanctus
           0-2-21   C#     c1700     Not known

The Story of the Bells

The old oak bellframe was probably designed to hold four bells. Some of its lower frame members date from the fifteenth century when the upper stages of the Tower were built.  It is known that there were four bells in 1552 and that the mediaeval tenor bell weighed about a ton. The frame was reconstructed in the sixteenth century re-using a substantial amount of the mediaeval woodwork and a further bell had been added by 1663 if not earlier.

 

In 1904 John Taylor & Co, Bellfounders, reported that the bellframe was “very decayed, especially the lower timbers: so much so indeed that it is doubtful whether it is safe to ring the bells.”    They noted that the peal was “woefully out of tune” and recommended a new iron frame, iron headstocks, and the recasting of the 2nd and 3rd bells.  They included in their estimate of £368 the provision of a new treble bell to increase the ring to six.  Nothing happened until 1937 when a less extensive scheme was implemented, retaining the old frame whilst renewing many of the fittings.  At Taylor’s suggestion, two large steel girders were placed across the Tower to reinforce the base beams of the bellframe.  In 1978 it was once again recognised that the old bellframe would need replacement and an estimate was obtained.    Unfortunately, the work had to be postponed as the main roof was found to be in a dangerous state and its restoration was a priority. 

 

In 1994 the bell ringers reported increasing difficulty in ringing the bells and recommended that they should be refurbished if they were to be rung for the Millennium.   To satisfy English Heritage concerns the Bellframe was once again exhaustively surveyed and recorded.   In 1997 bellringing ceased on grounds of safety and by the following year, all parties agreed that the old bellframe could not be repaired or restored.   The Parochial Church Council were keen to replace it in time for the Millennium, but English Heritage now insisted that it remained in situ as it was of historic interest.   Despite misgivings, the more costly, complex option of a new two-tier frame inserted beneath the old had to be pursued.  It involved moving the mechanism of the parish clock and major reordering within the tower.  Funding was raised and approvals gained from all interested parties.

 

New floors inside the tower had been completed by the summer of 2000.  In Loughborough, a  new bellframe was especially constructed and a new Treble Bell cast to increase our ring to a peal of six.  But at the end of August, a problem emerged when the floorboards under the old bellframe were removed exposing the beams beneath.   It became apparent that these beams were in poor condition and not in alignment with the bellframe above - and it was not going to be possible to fit in the two upper bells satisfactorily without removing them.   When English Heritage advised against granting faculty permission for this the project ground to a halt and a legal battle ensued.

 

In February, after two tense Consistory Court Hearings held in the church, The Chancellor, His Honour the Worshipful and Revd. Canon Dr Rupert D H Bursell, ruled in our favour as petitioners, allowing the work to proceed.  He noted in his Judgement the interest displayed in the project, the frustration of the parishioners and the need to account for the money already spent. The central section of the disputed beams is now displayed in the clock chamber.  

 

On Saturday 2nd June 2001 the Archdeacon of Bedford dedicated the new Treble Bell, the new two-tier iron bellframe and the restored ring of bells.   The service was well attended by villagers, bellringers, and many who had contributed their skills to the completed project.  To much rejoicing the bells rang out!

ABOUT US

The parish of St Peter and St Paul has a small but active congregation with typically 40-45 regular communicants. At special services like Easter and Christmas Eve we would expect many more, regularly exceeding 150, especially as we join with the Methodist and Baptist churches in the village for those services.

ADDRESS

If you wish to contact the Cranfield Church please telephone - 01234 750214
Or email one of the Church wardens:
andrew.r.pandy@gmail.com
jo.stannage@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE FOR EMAILS