ST MARY THE VIRGIN, GAMLINGAY
TOWER & BELLS
NEW BELLS NOW IN PLACE
After a long struggle, we have raised sufficient funds for the bells to be restored.
See letter from John Boocock, Tower Captain, to the Ringing World, concerning some of our problems.
The Tower used to house six bells, the largest of which weighed approximately 914 Kg (18 cwts). There are now eight bells - description below.
The earliest known record referring to the bells at Gamlingay is that of the hallowing of two bells by the Bishop of Ely, John Alcock in 1490, shortly after a major rebuilding of the church. Indeed the larger part of the oak bellframe still in use today may well date to this period. In the Cambridgeshire historical records is an illustration of the bellframe, originally designed to hold four bells.
We have no record of the founder of the four original bells, but it is believed that they were cast in the village. This was common practice. There is a field that used to be known as `Bellfounders Close' where it was done. They were recast in 1653 by Giles Graye the Younger of Colchester, and increased in number to five, the bellframe being modified to hold the extra bell. Three of these bells are still in use today.
For an unknown reason the fourth of these Graye bells was recast in 1699 by Richard Chandler of Drayton Parslow, Bucks.
There are no records of any further work on the bells until 1897, when they were rehung by the bell hanging partnership of George Day and Son of Eye. At this time the third and fourth bells were recast by John Warner and Sons of London, and a treble (the lightest bell) was added to increase the ring to six. This work was undertaken to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, the forth and fifth bells being the inscription `V.R. 1897' and a crown.
These bells have now been in use, requiring only routine maintenance, for 100 years, excepting the pause over the past three years while we have been trying to raise money for their restoration.
The NEW Bell details:
Bell practice takes place on Thursday evening at 7.30pm. Every one is welcome - even if you have never rung before, come along and learn!
Listen to the OLD bells (57KByte .wav file)
To hear the nerw bells, you will need to have the RealOne player installed. The easiest way to download this is through the BBC site, www.bbc.co.uk/radio. Downloading this plug-in will enable you to listen to all the BBC radio programmes over the internet and watch television programmes and clips.