Church of England Diocese of Gloucester Driffield (including Harnhill)

Medieval Bell Frame of 'national significance'

18 Feb 2021, 11 a.m.

Leading expert on medieval bell frames was commissioned by the Driffield & Harnhill PCC to undertake a detailed examination of the medieval bell frame at Harnhill Church in order to help determine the conservation repairs that need to be done to the tower and bell frame.  "We knew the bell frame was medieval and we know one of the bells is 14th century - making it one of the ten oldest bells in the country - and therefore in the world." said Canon John Swanton, Rector.  "What we didn't know was that our ancient bell frame is now considered to be of 'national significance'!  It appears we have a rare gem of a bell frame in our tower."

The bell tower, bell frame and the two bells (the second dated 1677) require major conservation works, and expert - Dr John Eisel - was asked to prepare a detailed report on what was known to be an important bell frame.  Indeed, the medieval bell is 'listed' by the Church Buildings Council as 'worthy of preservation'.  The report will be used to help inform the works that will need to be carried out in due course.  The bell is considered to date from the time of Edward III or Richard II.

At present, because of some structural issues within the tower, it is not possible to ring the bells.  There are plans being drawn up for a major programme of conservation restoration.  This will take some time to put in place, as nearly £70,000 will need to be raised to cover these costs.  This is a huge undertaking for a small parish of 168 people, which has two Grade II* churches to care for.