south weald bell ringing
The Bells of St Peter's, South Weald.
The augmentation of the Bells of St Peters
Delivery of the refurbished bells in 1988

Much interesting information about our bells can be found in the 1909 publication "The Church Bells of Essex Their Founders, Inscriptions, Traditions, and Uses." by the Rev Cecil Deedes and H Walters. Some of this information, together with that from other sources, is presented below.

 

Tower bells at St. Peter's are recorded in inventories of church goods compiled in October 1552, the sixth year of the reign of Edward VI.  There was even a clock as described in the following entry:

 

"Itm in the steple V Bells upon the fourth bell ye clocke smythe, the lest by estymacon weyeth viij hundred. "

 

An article in the Ringing World (Jan 27 1989) states that a record dated 1592 tells us that the tower of St Peter's contained 5 bells which were in need of repair. An inventory o f 1676, reads “Item: five hells and a clock in ye steeple". Of these bells, only the current no. 4 dated 1664 remains in its original state. The other four hells have been recast at various times.

 

In 1737, the then number 3 bell of the 5, was recast by Thomas Gardiner at Ingatestone. The same year the Vestry made a contract with Benjamin Long of West Tilbury for re-hanging all the bells :

 

"At this general Vestry of the whole Parish, May ye 10, 1737, it is agreed that Benjamin Long of West Tilbury shall new hang all the bells in the steeple of South Weald, and maintain them well hung and in a workmanlike manner during his life, paying the said Benjamin Long the sume of ten pounds in hand and ten shillings per annum for his life, for the performance of which an article shall be drawn and executed, to be paid as soon as he shall have put ihcin in order. He, the said Benjamin Long, to find all materials, with brass, iron, and woodwork, except ye Bell Clappers or gudgeons should break."

 

George Brucker, in his 1856 book, "Twenty Two of the Churches of Essex" noted

 

"The Belfry, a lofty chamber, is lighted by four triple-light " Perpendicular" windows, with tracery and highly finished masonry; it contains five Bells, bearing dates 1664, 1692, 1730, 1750, 1768 ; they rest on ancient timber framing of strong construction pinned together ; in modern times iron ties have been added. A Minister's Bell of small dimensions, and apparently not of great antiquity, is suspended in the east window. The timbers of the roof were partially renewed in 1748, and at the same time the lead covering was re-cast."

 

It is likely that the 1730 bell here was actually the bell cast in 1737 and still in existance today.

 

In February of 1879 a treble bell, by Mears and Co., of  Whitechapel, was added to the 5 existing bells. Over a hundred years later, in 1988, two new lighter bells were added to make up the full octave in the key of F sharp.  This augmentation was by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry together the replacement of the old wooden frame with a modern cast iron structure and a general updating of the bells and fittings.

 

The tenor weighs just over 14 hundredweight (725 kg) and has a tendency to go up wrong unless it is kept speaking on the way up, as can our number four bell. Four, Six and the tenor are slightly slow at back stroke but all bells go reasonably well.  The details of the bells are shown in the table below.  

 

Bell Weight Note Diameter Cast Founder Inscription
1 3-2-13 F 25.63" 1988 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd Donald R. Snape
Headmaster St. Peter's School 1966-1987
Churchwarden 1984-1988
1988 Whitechapel
Donald and Margaret Snape in Thanksgiving for their years at South Weald
2 4-0-26 E 26.88" 1988 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd In Memory of Millicent Marguerite Holmes Beloved wife of Peter and mother of Kevin 1924-1984
3 4-1-3 D 28.38" 1879 Mears & Stainbank Mears and Stainbank, Founders, London, 1879.
4 4-1-12 C 29.13" 1664 Antony Bartlet Thomas King, Joseph Abry, Churchwardens, 1664.
5 5-3-16 Bb 32.00" 1902 Mears & Stainbank EDWARDUS VII. R et I.-VIVAT DUNCAN FRASER, VICAR. CHRISTOPER J. H.  TOWER,GEORGE LAGDEN CHURCHWARDENS. RECAST A.D. 1902.
6 8-1-16 A 35.75" 1737 Thomas Gardiner Thomas Gardiner, Sudbury, fecit 1737.
7 9-2-27 G 39.13" 1768 Lester & Pack James White and Thomas Spragg, Churchwardens. Lester and Pack of London, fecit 1768.
8 14-1-3 F 44.00" 1692 William & Philip Wightman William and Phil Wightman, fecit.
William Trewlock and Stevin Shonk, Churchwardens.

 

The current number 3 bell was an original casting.

The number 5 bell was recasting of a bell cast in 1750 having the inscription "Thomas Lester, fecit. John Wood and Giver Bridge, Churchwardens, 1750."

The number 6 bell was cast in Ingatestone.

We have an additional service bell that weights just 1qtr 24lb with a note of G. This is not now used.