Item BCA - 2017.1122 - Appeal for the restoration of the bells of St Mary The Virgin

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BCA - 2017.1122


Appeal for the restoration of the bells of St Mary The Virgin


  • 2004 (Creation)

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The leaflet was produced to explain what needed to be done with the bells of St Mary's and the costs involved. By 1629 Bampton had a ring of six bells, a very early date for a ring of this number. They were probably all cast, or recast, by Nathaniel Bolter an itinerant bell-founder. The 5th, 6th and 8th (tenor) of the present ring are Bolter’s original work from 1629 and are listed bells. The two smallest bells, the treble and the 2nd were added in 1906. In 1904 the old wooden six bell frame was removed and a new metal frame for eight bells installed. At this time it was usual for bells to be hung on wooden headstocks with plain bearings. Although the bells have been rung regularly for the last 100 years, it has become evident that the bells are becoming more difficult to ring. This fact is especially relevant when teaching new recruits to ring. A recent bellhangers report comments that some of the wooden headstocks are twisted, and other fittings are well worn. Additionally some of the bells retain cast in ironwork in their crowns that makes them susceptible to developing cracks. They are also pitted where the clapper strikes the bell and the four smallest bells are quite out of tune with the larger bells. The proposal is to fit each bell with a new headstock and hang them on ball bearings with all new fittings and renovated wheels. This will require the bells to be taken out of the tower and it would be cost effective to have the whole ring tuned at this time by the Whitchapel Bellfoundry, who recast the 4th bell in 1865. The bellhangers have suggested that if funds were not available to do the entire work at one go, then the work could be done piecemeal over a longer period of time. This however would add significantly to the cost and it could take several years to get the bells into a state where they would be fit for another 100 years of ringing.
Cast Iron Headstock £1293
Bearings (pair) £343
Supporting Bolts (per bell) £29
Independent Crown Staple £196
Clapper £334
Re-rim Wheels & Braces £447
Pulley Sheave £24
Ash Stay & Bolts £47
Ash Slider £53
Runner Board £48
Slider Pin £41
Bell Rope (flax) £102
Tuning (average per bell) £453
If action is not taken to remedy the current problems then the bells will become progressively more difficult to ring, which will affect our ability to produce “good” ringing and encourage new recruits.

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