Church of England Diocese of Oxford Letcombe Bassett

The Bells of St Michael & All Angels

1 Sep 2019, 7 p.m.
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The church has a ring of three bells which are all of historical importance. The Treble and Second bells were both cast by William Knight II at Reading in 1576, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. They reputedly weigh about 150 kg and 200 kg respectively, and bear the following inscriptions:

 HAL MARI FUL OF GRAS WK 1576

 GLORI BE TO GOD ON HI IN EARTH PCS WK 1576

The designs of the crosses identify the Reading Foundry. These inscriptions are the only examples with such lettering to have dates, and have enabled bells elsewhere that were cast at the Reading Foundry to be dated.

The Tenor bell, which reputedly weighs about 250 kg, was cast by Oliver Corr of Aldbourne in 1726. It has an inscription with a symbol identifying the foundry and the lettering "COR J726". According to the Church Buildings Council, it is a rare example of a bell cast by Oliver Corr himself.

As described here the bells and their fittings are currently undergoing restoration by Whites of Appleton (https://www.whitesbellhangers.co.uk/).

In 1926 Richard White of Appleton rehung the bells in an oak frame with new fittings, including clappers and traditional type wheels. The former 16th century half-wheels are preserved in the tower.

In 1990 Whites of Appleton carried out work on the bells, which included strengthening the wrought iron clappers, tightening the bell frame, and fitting new bell ropes. A brass plaque in the tower records that Mr George Jackson (of Downs House) kindly paid for the repairs.

Details of the bells and their history are given by Frederick Sharpe in his book 'The Church Bells of Berkshire' (1971) and in a series of articles in the Berkshire Archaeological Journal available at: https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/berks_bas_2007/index.cfm

Most of the information relating to Letcombe Bassett is in 'The Church Bells of Berkshire Part VIII' Volume 47 (1943), but some illustrations are in other articles.

More photos of the bells can be found in our Gallery