St Wilfrid’s Church was built by Temple Moore between 1902 and 1914 with later additions by his nephew, Leslie Moore in 1928 (Holy Spirit Chapel) and 1935 (Lady Chapel and Hall). Originally the church was designed to have a tall tower and broach spire at the end of the north transept but the plans were later revised to a central tower and two smaller towers at the east end. A single bell was cast in 1914 by John Warner of London and hung in the South-East tower. This is hung for swing-chiming and is used as the Sanctus Bell.
The bells at St Wilfrid’s were cast and hung entirely by the inspiration of the late Ronald H Dove, famed by bell ringers for Doves Guide – a compendium which lists all the bells hung for full-circle change ringing in the world.
In 1971, it was suggested at the Annual Parish Meeting that a ringing peal should be installed in time for the Diamond anniversary of the consecration in 1974. Originally it was intended to have a light ring of five bells in the South-East tower with the 3cwt Sanctus Bell being the tenor but when the Architect’s plans were examined, it was realised that the central tower was intended to carry bells and the base beams were already in place. No doubt these plans were shelved due to the outbreak of the First World War. It was then decided to aim at having a heavier ringing peal of 6 bells in the central tower with the Sanctus bell being the fourth.
The new five bells were cast on 9th November 1972 by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough. An offer of sponsorship for an extra bell enabled a new fourth bell to be cast on 21st December 1972 so that the Sanctus bell could be left in its place. The six bells were installed during the following summer and dedicated by the Dean of Ripon, the Very Reverend Edwin Le Grice on 14th October 1973.
The metal for the six bells came from the derelict ringing peal from All Hallows church in High Hoyland (near Barnsley) which were offered for an ex gratia payment and the cost of transportation. The peal consisted of five bells cast in 1745 by Edward Seller of York with a treble of 1822 by Thomas Mears of Whitechapel; so although St Wilfrid’s bells are relatively new, the metal is far older and has been used to call people to worship for centuries.
The seats in the ringing chamber were donated by Fr Jerome of St Mary’s Roman Catholic church in Knaresborough, when the church was reseated. The model bell was donated by Leeds Parish Church ringers and the mirror came from the demolished church of St Mark in Lincoln.
In 1976, St Wilfrid’s bells were augmented from 6 to 8 bells by recast redundant bells from St Clement’s Sheepscar in Leeds and All Saints Sculcoates in Hull. The new bells were dedicated in 1977 by the Right Reverend Michael Manktelow, Bishop of Basingstoke and until recently Vicar of St Wilfrid’s.
In the coming decades, enhancements were made to the installation: Steel base beams were erected in 1980 so that the bell frame was suspended from the floor of the bell chamber; originally it was mounted on the floor which meant an unacceptable short draft of rope. More recently in 2009 all wheels were replaced and the 2 inch steel bar headstocks on the lightest six bells were replaced by traditional cast iron headstocks. The old wheels and headstocks were given to North Rigton who installed a light ring of six for their centenary in 2011.
The ringing chamber is one of the largest (72 square yards) and highest (83 steps) in the diocese. The bells have been heard on Christmas bells programmes, Bells on Sunday, Songs of Praise and Highway.
The ringing peal was cast by John Taylor & Co. of Loughbrough
Bell inscriptions are as follows. The dates on the treble and the second are when the bell was originally cast respectively for St Clement’s Sheepscar (Leeds) and All Saints Sculcoates (Hull).
|1||J. TAYLOR & CO FOUNDERS 1868||CANON M.R.J. MANKTELOW VICAR
JOHN R. GOLDING
JOHN N. ADDISON
RONALD H. DOVE
|[TAYLOR LOUGHBORO] RECAST 1976|
|2||JOHN WARNER & SONS LTD 1899||“PEACE”
RING OUT THE THOUSAND WARS OF OLD
RING IN THE THOUSAND YEARS OF PEACE
|[TAYLOR LOUGHBORO] RECAST 1976|
|3||19 [TAYLOR LOUGHBORO] 72||E.K. E.M.K.|
|4||19 [TAYLOR LOUGHBORO] 72|
|5||[TAYLOR LOUGHBORO]||JENKIN AND BETTY COLES 1972|
|6||[TAYLOR LOUGHBORO]||AHL DL 1972|
|7||19 [TAYLOR LOUGHBORO] 72||GABRIELLE EDGECOMBE OCTOBER 18TH 1945|
|8||(TAYLOR LOUGHBORO) 1972||H.P.E.F. 1931-1965|
The Sanctus Bell in the South-East tower was cast in 1914 by John Warner & Sons, has a diameter of 25″, weighs approximately 3 cwt and is tuned to E. It bears the following inscription:
IB: JOHN WARNER & SONS, FOUNDERS LONDON
[Border of vine leaves.]
Waist: A : M: D: G: DONO DEDERVNT
ALICE JOSEPHINE} BAXTER
IN FEST ANN B.M.V. MCMXIV CVM VOCO
AD TEMPLVM VENITE