Our Church – The Bells

Our Church

The Bells

Church plan view
The Church tower contains a ring of eight bells, which is unusual for a village the size of Buckland. The older bells date back to 1636 when there were only four bells in the tower mounted in an oak frame. A tenor bell was added in 1721, a treble bell in 1898, and a further two bells were added to the front of the ring in about 1916 making a total of eight bells – a full octave. At that time the eight bells were hung in a steel frame which still exists today and is in remarkably good condition.

Because the bells were of various dates and founders, their tones were not of equal temperament and were never musical. Also they were hung on plain bearings making them very hard to ring. In the late 1970s attempts were made to improve the bells by re-hanging them on ball-bearings but whilst this made them easier to ring it did not improve their tonal quality. That re-hanging was carried out voluntarily by members of the bell ringing band and paid for out of the proceeds of a sponsored ring.

In 2010, sufficient funds were generously donated by two local families to enable a full restoration of the bells to be undertaken. The bells were taken by Whites of Appleton, Church Bellhangers, to the Whitechapel bell foundry for re-tuning, and then re-hung by them in the existing frame on modern head stocks and high quality double row roller bearings.

While the bells were away, volunteers made several improvements to the bell and ringing chambers. They were made Jackdaw- and Pigeon-proof, and weather-proof because the bell chamber is open to rain or snow blowing through the louvres. A new trapdoor was fabricated on the floor of the ringing chamber and installed. Insulation was fitted in the void between the ceiling of the ringing chamber and the floor of the bell chamber. The bell frame was wire-brushed and re-painted, the ringing chamber re-decorated and re-carpeted. A bell simulator together with is software was donated to assist the teaching of beginners.

A Service of Rededication of the Bells was held in the church on 9th October 2010 at which the hymns Angel voices ever singing and The sacred Bells of England were sung, and The Ringers’ Prayer was said.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Alan O’Shaunessy (Tower Captain) and Brenda Willis for the text and photos used on this page.