Church of England Diocese of Salisbury Swallowcliffe

The bells of Saint Peter's Church

24 Feb 2021, 11:30 p.m.
Church_news News_about_our_building

Rex, the Parochial Church Council's Fabric Officer, writes,

"In 1632 Charles the First was king, Anthony Van Dyke was knighted and appointed court painter, Sir Christopher Wren was born, the colony of Maryland was founded in North America, the English Civil War started and a treble bell weighing 4 1/2 cwt was cast in the Salisbury foundry by John Dawson. This bell is the oldest of our three bells in Saint Peter's Church Swallowcliffe. Our tenor bell was cast at the famous White Chapel foundry in London in 1846 and the third bell (the number two bell) was cast in John Warner's foundry in London in 1881. This small peal of bells has rung out over Swallowcliffe for all these years marking great occasions, the passing of many of our former villagers and celebrating weddings, Royal anniversaries and many other happy occasions.

"In September 2019 specialist bell hangers from Whites of Appleton inspected the bells and the bell frame and instructed us to take the tenor bell out of action because it was dangerous and recommended full restoration of all bells and their fittings. So we tendered this work out to contract and decided to employ Nicholson Engineering. a local bell hanger from Bridport, Dorset. We then had to seek planning permission - in church terms called a Faculty - from the Diocese of Salisbury and to start a fundraising appeal to raise over £19,000 - a daunting task for a small village of some 170 residents and especially during the Covid pandemic. Without the magnificent support of the Friends of Saint Peter's Church, who guaranteed to underwrite the project, we would not have been able to start the project at all. The Fundraising Appeal began in late September 2020 and applications for grants were made to bell charities and to Historic England. By the end of the year, your amazing generosity had raised £17,675 for Operation Bell, for which the Swallowcliffe PCC is extremely grateful.

"On 7 January 2021, Ian and Tim, bell hangers from Nicholson Engineering, arrived to remove the bells, the fittings and wheels and to lower them gently through 2 trapdoors to the ground. Two days later they were all in the foundry at Bridport. Here they will be restored and given new clappers, new crown staples, new Iroko headstocks, new oak wheels and new bellropes with red, white and blue 'sallies'. They will also be tuned and the bell frame in the bell tower will also be restored.

"Hopefully by the 9th of April our restored bells will be safely re-hung in their new fittings and through your generosity will be ringing in a more brighter and more healthy future for many years to come. I hope that you can celebrate their return with us and thank you for your support and generosity."