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Essex Association of Change Ringers

St. Peter's Great Totham


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History of the Bells
Prior to 1878 the tower contained two pre-reformation Bells. John Sturdy (c1450) cast the smaller bell and Tomas Laurence (c1552) the larger. In the mid 18th Century the tower housed a third bell. It is understood to have been stolen about 1800.

In 1878 the badly cracked two remaining bells were sold to John Warner and Sons of Cripplegate London. Rubbings of both bells are preserved in the British Museum. The current six bells were cast by John Warner and Sons in 1878. All the fittings and the frame in the present installation date from 1878 with the exception of the ball bearings and ground pulleys. These were renewed in 1951 by Hears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

In 1991 Eayre and Smith of Derby, in conjunction with members of the band, overhauled the bells. The cast-in crown staples were removed (see pictures). Five holes were drilled in the top of the bell. The central hole provides attachment for the clapper whilst the other four are used to connect the bell to the headstock. The bearings were replaced due to over greasing and the loose gudgeons were also replaced. The bearings will not require further greasing for 20-25 years following the work.
The bells were turned through 90º and the wheels, pulleys, ropes, stays, sliders and clappers were all replaced. Finally the Ellacombe chiming apparatus was removed.

Since 1991 we have replaced the top ends of the ropes and subsequently replaced all the ropes and sallies with polypropylene top ends. The Worcester and Districts Change Ringing Association web site names the parts of a bell hung for change ringing.

bell showing old cast-in staples
1. Bell from St. Peter's showing old 
cast-in staples

St Peter's Bells
4. View of St. Peter's Bells viewed from
above. The bells are down.
Bell showing old cast-in staples removed
2. Bell from St. Peter's after removal of 
old cast-in staples

St Leonards Bell

3. One of the 12 bells of St. Leonard's,
Shoreditch, removed for maintenance.
Showing a metal headstock and wheel,
supported in a temporary bell frame by
the main bearings.

Bell Cwt Qtr lbs Note Dia Founder Inscription
Treble 3 3 12 G 25" Warner & Sons Cripplegate Cast by John Warner & Sons London 1878
2 4 0 19 F 26" Warner & Sons Cripplegate Cast by John Warner & Sons London 1878
3 4 1 20 Eb 27.5" Warner & Sons Cripplegate Cast by John Warner & Sons London 1878
4 5 0 12 D 28.5" Warner & Sons Cripplegate Cast by John Warner & Sons London 1878
5 6 0 7 C 31" Warner & Sons Cripplegate Cast by John Warner & Sons London 1878
Tennor 7 0 11 Bb 34" Warner & Sons Cripplegate Cast by John Warner & Sons London 1878
Note the weights of the bells is taken from the plaque in the ringing chamber.
There is also and inscription on the waist of the tennor.
This ring of bells was placed in this tower at the restoration & enlargement if the church
MICHAELMAS 1878
Frances Emma Honywood------ Rector
Henry T.W. Eyre---------Vicar
Mark Cottee)
                                         Churchwardens
Norris Hobbs)

Tower
The tower is of timber frame construction with brick infill. The outer walls are covered with cedar shingles. A shingled spire surmounts the tower. The shingles were replaced in 2012 as part of the work to replace the church roof. During work on the tower parts of the 1878 oak frame were found to be rotten. Remedial work was undertaken and metal plates were used to provide additional support at the joints.

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Updated February 2018