THE new bells for St Wilfrid’s church are back in Grappenhall village, almost six months after the old ring of eight bells were rung for the last time and removed from the tower.
Nick Thomson Ringing Master, Grappenhall Bell Ringers, said: “The new ring of ten bells has been cast at the Bell foundry of John Taylor & Co of Loughborough, with casting taking place on three occasions earlier in the year.
“Ringers and Parishioners had the opportunity to visit the foundry and watch the castings on all three occasions. The tenor bell (the heaviest bell in the ring) weighs just over half a ton, and has been donated by the bell ringers themselves. The ninth bell has been donated by the PCC bell, and is in remembrance of those who fell in the First World War – as a special tribute to the fallen, the foundry has cast a ring of poppies in the crown of the bell. All the bells have been donated by individuals or bodies.”
Nick added: “Four of the previous ring of bells also made the journey back to Grappenhall. These had rung out over the village for over 300 years, and have been retained due to their historic value. They are now going to have a quieter life, hanging above the new bells – one will be used as a clock bell, and another as a service bell. They have been cleaned up whilst away at the foundry, and now look much better than when they left the tower, covered in layers of pigeon poo!!!”
The bells were taken into the church and were put on display so that they could be viewed before they make the journey up the tower, where they will remain, hopefully, for some time to come!
Following their arrival the bells were blessed as part of the Celtic Communion service, which takes place once a month. Reverend Jane Proudfoot blessed each of the new bells with oil as the congregation gathered round to look on.
During the following week, the pupils of St Wilfrid’s school came down, class by class, to view the bells, and there was a stream of people showing an interest in seeing them.
Meanwhile, work continues up the tower in installing the bell frame. The Taylor’s Bell Hanger, Andrew Ogden, has been leading the installation, and we have been grateful for the sterling work done by volunteers, both bell ringers and others, to assist him in his work – we would not have been able to do it without this help, which has reduced the total cost of the project.
Nick concluded: “Hopefully, the bells will sound out over Grappenhall again by the end of this month, and the ringers will once again be able to ring in their own tower again! We would like to thank the vicars and ringers of Stockton Heath and Stretton for allowing us to continue with our Wednesday practices at their churches.”
The Grappenhall Bells Facebook page will keep people up to date with events.