St Peter’s church in Harrogate town centre was built in 1870 by J.H. Hirst of Bristol and consecrated in 1876. Due to a lack of funds at the time, only the first stage of the tower was completed.
The tower was completed in 1926 by A. A. Gibson and was intended to carry a full peal of bells but it was not until 1963 that the bells were installed. The tower contains many statues and carvings, most notably St Peter carrying the Keys to Heaven.
The tower consists of five storeys. The ringing chamber is on the second floor and is reached by a spiral staircase followed by a wooden ladder. Further ladders give access to the bell chamber and an iron spiral staircase gives access to the top of the tower. There are excellent views from the top and it is possible to see York Minster on a clear day. Until the redevelopment of 2011, the tower also served as the main church entrance.
Originally St Peter’s had only one bell which bore the inscription
O THE GLORY OF GOD
AND AS A THANKS OFFERING TO HIM
FOR THE RECOVERY OF HEALTH
THIS BELL IS PRESENTED TO
ST PETERS CHURCH, HARROGATE
BY ELIZABETH TIMM, EASTER A D 1879
The clapper of the old bell is preserved in the ringing chamber and the inscription is preserved on a plaque on the tower staircase door.
The peal of 8 bells were installed in 1963, through the initiative of the vicar, The Reverend Roger Holford Baines. They were cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough in 1963 and were dedicated on 22nd September 1963 by the Bishop of Knaresborough. The bells hang in a cast iron frame; the tenor being in the centre of the frame.
The colours of the sallies follow a unique colour scheme following the liturgical colours of the Christian calendar: blue for Advent (1), gold for Christmas (2), green for Sundays after Epiphany (3), violet for Lent (4), gold for Easter (5), red for Whitsunday (6) and green for Sundays after Trinity (7). The blue sally on the tenor is for the Patron Saint – St Peter; it has always been blue even though red is normally used by the Western church for feasts of the Apostles.
The spider on which the bell ropes are hooked is made from half of a rolling pin. The other half serves as the spider at Beckwithshaw!
The ringing peal was cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough
All the bells bear the inscription
JOHN TAYLOR & CO. * FOUNDERS * LOUGHBOROUGH * 1963 *
The tenor also has the names of the Vicar and churchwardens inscribed on its waist:
ROGER HOLFORD BAINES VICAR
JACK DRURY CHURCHWARDENS
GILBERT ARTHUR STONE