Church Bells

In the church tower hang three bells.

The tenor bell is of great age and interest. IPGM Dickinson FSA, suggests that it was cast in about 1310. It weighs over 7 hundredweight. This bell almost certainly dates from at least the early years of the 14th century and at nearly 700 years old is one of the oldest church bells in the country. It is certainly one of the three oldest church bells known in Suffolk. The oldest is probably at Hadleigh, dated to around 1280. Worlington has a bell made by John Godynge of Lynn, dated to around 1310. The bell at Great Bradley could be a little earlier, and was made by Richard de Wymbis of London. De Wymbis was known to have been working as a bell founder by 1290. The inscription shown here is a cast made from the bel It is inscribed 'RICHARD DE WYMBIS ME FECIT' (Meaning ' Richard De Wimbis made me'). Wimbish is a small village not too far away near Saffron Walden and a Richard De Wimbis of London is also reported to have cast the bell in Cholsey, Berkshire between 1290 and 1310 and the bell in West Donyland in Essex is reported to have been cast by Richard de Wimbish too. According to the National Archive he is known to have been living in1291 and he appears in a document in the City of London Guildhall dated 1303. He also appears on the City Hustings Rolls for 1307-1313 and 1315, and entered into an agreement with the Prior of Holy Trinity Church, London to cast a bell to weigh 2820 pounds. Only four more of his bells now remain. They are at Goring, Oxfordshire; Burham, Kent; Slapton, Devon and Catesby, Northants. The bell in Great Bradley is the largest.

The second bell, according to Raven ('The Church Bells of Suffolk - 1890 edition') dates from 1576. It weighs over 6 hundredweight and is 33 inches in diameter. The note is B+. It has an inscription stating it was made in Bury St Edmunds by the Stefanyz [Stephen] Tonni workshop in in 1576. The motif used is a pair of arrows through a crown. It was the Tonni workshop mark and was linked to St Edmund. The foundry had been established from just 1570. The church at nearby Woodditton has two bells made by the same foundry, one of which was previously in Westerly Waterless until the tower collapsed.

The treble bell bears no inscription, so its origins are unknown, but authorities claim that this is almost certainly a pre-Reformation bell (i.e. pre 1540) but no older than 1300 (according to one of the repairers). It weights over 5 hundredweight and is over 30 inches in diameter. The note it rings is C sharp

For more information on the bells click here