The Bells of St. Michaels

A GENERAL HISTORY OF CHURCH BELLS

 
Bells date back to China around 3,500 b.c and are the loudest musical instruments being heard many miles away.
They were first authorised for use in Christian churches around 400 a.d. In Italy. The earliest English ring of church bells appeared in the 11th century.
Today bells are cast from “Bell Metal” which is a hard alloy, a form of bronze typically 78% copper and 22% tin by mass.
Early Church bells were often cast on site in pits dug in the church grounds. Centralised foundries became more common when the railways allowed for easy transportation of the bells. Two notable English Foundries are Taylors of Loughborough and The White Chapel Foundry of London.

THE BELLS OF ST MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS, STOKENHAM


The first record of bells in our church was in 1553. In 1776 a ring of 6 bells was cast on site in
Stokenham by the Pennington Brothers of Stoke Climsland. In 1832 the tenor bell was recast by
Hambling of Blackawton, once described as an “ingenious blacksmith”! In 1889 the treble, fifth and tenor were recast by John Taylor and Co. of Loughborough, the remaining 3 bells were one quarter turned and all the bells rehung in new cast iron “A” frame with oak foundation beams and trusses.

Since then various works have been carried out such as new bearings in 1911, clapper bushes and rope
pulleys in 1957, new gudgeons and ball bearings in 1965 and the ropes have fairly regularly been
replaced. In 1985 the ringing chamber was raised from the ground floor 10 feet to the present level,
making space for the kitchen. The bells are in the key of F sharp and weigh as follows:-
(For younger readers 1cwt (hunderwight) is 112 lbs. 1 qr. is 28 lbs).

The history of the bells of St. Michael and All Angels was researched by my predecessor, the late William Sanders in 1995.


Howard Perkins (Tower Captain)