Bell ringing is more demanding but more rewarding than most people suppose – an ancient art, unique to Britain, with much to learn and even more to enjoy.
Practice and teaching is held on Monday mornings, and also Thursday afternoons; but other times can be fitted in for those who are ‘learning the ropes’.
The bells of St Mary’s Church Thornton in Craven had not been rung for many decades and the examinations carried out in preparation for their proposed renovation for the millennium revealed the following information.
TENOR BELL, now No 6 bell, was made by Seliok of Nottingham c. 1510 at the time the tower was built and was probably cast near to the church. The bell is 39″ in diameter, and carries in Latin the inscription: HAIL MARY FULL OF GRACE THE LORD IS WITH THEE
THIRD BELL, now No 5 bell, was also made by Seliok c. 1510 is 36″ diameter and carries in Latin the inscription: SAINT ANTHONY’S BELL
SECOND BELL, now No 4 bell, was made in 1759 by Lester and Pack, Whitechapel, London and is 32″ diameter and carries the following inscriptions, HENRY RICHARDSON AM RECTOR, CHURCHWARDENS, JOHN WILCOCK, STEPHAN BANISTER, JOHN HARGRIEVES IMPRIMIS VENERARE DEUM [made especially to glorify God]
TREBLE BELL, now No 3 bell, was made in 1887 by James Shaw of Bradford (believed to be a recast of an earlier Lester and Pack bell) 31″ diameter and carries the inscription, GIVE PEACE IN OUR TIME O LORD
BELLFRAME: The oak bell frame has been modified at various times in the distant past and carries the following inscriptions: HARRY RICHARDSON RECTOR 1743 JOHN BROWN, JOHN WADDINGTON, ROB SHALTON ?, CHURCHWARDENS HARRISON, BARROW, LINCOLNSHIRE, BELLHANGER. The date 1617 is also inscribed elsewhere on the bell frame.
The following changes were made in 1999 by John Taylor, Bellfounders, Loughborough: a new steel bell-frame for six bells was installed in the old bell ringing room and following restoration, incorporated the four existing bells and two new Millennium bells. Changes to the tower area and the new position of the bells within the tower enabled the bells to rung from ground level. The old bell frame was retained in position.
NEW No 1 TREBLE BELL Carries the Latin inscription, VENITE AD PRECES VENITE AD CONCIONES [Come to pray , come to praise]. This inscription was on the original treble bell before it was recast in 1887.
NEW No 2 BELL Carries the inscription, JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER [Hebrews 13.8]
The heaviest bell (tenor) now weighs 9 Hundredweight, 3 Quarters, 19 Pounds and the peal is tuned to the key of G (765Hz)