Snitterfield Church: St James the Great

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The Snitterfield bells

at the wedding of Helen and Trevor, June 2016

The Bells of St James

A survey carried out in September 2018 revealed that, while our lovely bells in St James the Great Church, Snitterfield, have been very well looked after, some major work is required to ensure that they—and the bellringers—are safe and can continue to ring out across the countryside. The last time any major work was undertaken was in 1887 when a new oak and cast iron bellframe was installed and three more bells added to the tower—prior to this there were just three bells—and this current project, costing around £50k, will result in another 100+ years. Permission to carry out the work has been granted and the PCC and the bellringers will be working closely together to raise the funds necessary for the work to be completed.

Your help is needed to make the target amount of £50,000 –

 securing our bells for the next 150 years.

The sound of the bells have heralded many key events, national and local. Apart from the regular Sunday morning call to worship, the bells announce weddings, funerals, New Year and join in with national ringing for such events as Armistice Day and the Millennium. We have a number of new, developing ringers and also receive visiting ringers who test their skills in our tower. The whole village has been involved with bell ringing at some point—whether enjoying the sound ringing out or actually ringing them. Please help us to ensure that the Bells of St James continue to ring out across the village of Snitterfield and the surrounding countryside.

 

The Bells

The bell tower at St James the Great, Snitterfield, contains a grand ring of six bells, which hang level with the louvre windows.  The bells were last fully rehung and restored in 1887. A new oak and cast bellframe was installed and all new bell fittings put in place. In 1947, a partial rehang and overhaul was carried out.

 

 What work is proposed?

· The bells to be removed, retuned and rehung on mainly new fittings;

· They will be equipped with new, modern cast iron headstocks;

· The runner boards and sliders to be renewed;

· The clock hammer to be overhauled and refaced;

· The bell hammers to be replaced with a safer ‘trigger action’ type lever, reducing the chance of the bell being damaged by the hammer (optional);

· The current bell 3 to be replaced;

· The bellframe to be cleaned down, treated with a Creoseal solution and the tie bars tightened and repainted.

· A rope guide frame to be installed in the ringing chamber.

 

After rehanging, the bells will continue to serve the church and the village for many years to come.

 

How will it be done? 

· Temporary lifting gear to be installed and each bell carefully lifted from its mountings and lowered to the ground floor via a spider crane;

· All bells to be transported to the workshops of John Taylor & Co in Loughborough where the headstocks will be removed and the bells cleaned and graphite coated;

· New resin pads to be cast on the heads of the bells to provide a stable surface on which to mount the new headstocks;

· The bells to be retuned and provided with double row, self-aligning ball bearings with bearing seals—this will make it easier for the existing bellringers and make it easier for learners;

· The bellframe to be cleaned down, tightened and treated with Creoseal wood preservative;

· The bells, with their new and restored fittings to be returned to the church and hoisted and hung in the bellframe—any necessary adjustments made;

· Passageway up to the tower to be made good;

· A skeletal steel framed rope guide to be installed in the ringing chamber;

· A full service to be carried out after twelve months.

When will it be done?

 

First we have to raise the money!

 

Our plan is to have six months of intensive fundraising, locally in the parish and by applying for grants both regionally and nationally. We hope to be able to start the work before the end of 2019 and, once started, it should take 2-3months to complete.

 

Fundraising plans include:

· Justgiving page;

· Donation envelopes;

· Snitterfield Fete stall;

· Community café—first Sunday monthly—stall;

· Open day – 27th July 2-5pm—come and chime the bells!

· Invite donations from local businesses and Parish Council (who have already donated £1000);

· Apply for grants from such bodies as Coventry Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers, National Historic Churches Trust, Waitrose Green Token Community Fund (other supermarkets are available!)

 

Who will carry out the work?

  The main contractor will be John Taylor & Co of Loughborough. This is the same company that carried out the major works in 1887.

 

What will it cost?

 The current estimate is that the whole project will cost around £50,000.

 

This depends on a number of options, which include providing fit and able-bodied

assistants to the bell-hangers during the removal and reinstallation of the bells and their fittings.

 

The replacement of bell 3 would cost almost £10,000 if a new one needed to be recast. However, we have been offered a ‘rescue’ bell from a redundant bell tower and this is currently being held for us by Taylors. This has reduced the cost by half.

 

The Appeal Fund currently stands at around £8,500.

 

What next?

 The PCC and the bellringers are launching a fundraising appeal to raise the funds. We will be approaching local businesses as well as charitable trusts that aid church and bell refurbishment projects. To succeed with these organisations, we need to demonstrate that we are raising a substantial portion of the money through our own enterprises within the parish.

 

We will be please to discuss commemorative inscriptions on headstocks, the new bell or the bell frame with major contributors and anyone with a particular link with bell ringing at St James.

 

Sue Lambert

On behalf of the PCC and Bell Ringers