Since around the year 1360 the tower of All Saints’ has contained at least one bell; for calling the people to church, ringing the hours and curfew.
The Five Bells
For 220 years All Saints’ Church’s peal consisted of five bells:
The ‘Ancient Bell’, a tenor, which is believed to have been cast in the mid-1360s. It is listed in the Church Building Council’s Schedule of Bells for Preservation in Coventry Diocese and, until 4 January 2015, it was the oldest bell still ringing in a peal within the Coventry Guild.
Two bells cast in 1703
Two bells cast in 1793
The last two bells were cast shortly after the current church was built, but the first three would have hung in the ancient mediaeval church, which stood on the same site; the ‘Ancient Bell’ was probably cast in a pit in the church grounds, because transportation of a 7cwt bell would have been fraught with difficulties in the 14th Century.
We don’t know for sure who paid for the first three bells, although the 3rd Bell has “Mr Winter, Warden”, inscribed on it, which probably refers to Thomas Winter, who’s memorial is on the south wall of the Upper Room and who would have been aged about 39 when the bell was cast. He and his wife, Ann, lived at Wootton Grange to the north of the village of Leek Wootton.
We know that The Hon Mary Leigh, who donated the bells in 1793 was a great benefactor of the Church, contributing to the building of the new Church in 1790.
Remedial Work, 1966
In 1966 some remedial work was undertaken to repair the wheels and bearings and, perhaps, to replace the wooden headstocks with steel ones.
Text extracted from the History of the Bells leaflet, Leek Wootton History Group, 2014
Appeal, 2014The Appeal received an excellent response, with donations from parishioners and residents, local community groups, businesses and interest groups. There were also fundraising events held throughout the community, including two music concerts staged in the church and an Open Gardens / Scarecrow competition, sales of artwork and cards. The old peal of five bells rang for the last time on Sunday, 4 January 2015 and on 10 January work began to remove them from the tower, with the assistance of a mini crane inside the church, lifting the bells over the balcony to the floor.
Return, 2015The peal is now a ring of six, still arranged anti-clockwise and ready to ring for another century.
Photos and Videos from the Return of the Bells – June 2015