St James' Church - Bells

Millenium Bells

The Wotton Quarterly Magazine of 1902 carried correspondence on the inscriptions on the church bells of Wotton and Abinger. The original Abinger bells were probably cast in the mid 14th century, and were mentioned in the inventory of 1553 as "Item, iij belles in the steple, the best by estymacion, viii and the resydew under after the rate ". These were recast in 1674 ("William Eldridge made mee, 1674"). The 'viij' means 8 cwt.

The bells were recast at the time of the first of the Victorian restorations' by Mears and Stainbank, Founders, London, 1880 and one was Inscribed "H.S. & D. D. Churchwardens " (Henry Spooner and Daniel Dibble). It is customary for bells and similar objects to carry the names of the Churchwardens (but not the Rector!) - Terence O'Kelly - letter to Abinger & Coldharbour Parish News, February 1998.

To celebrate the 2000 millenium, 3 new bells were commissioned by St James'.

Photographs of a visit to Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd in March 1999 to see St James' three new bells being cast. The ancient craft of bell founding has been carried out by the London firm since its origins in the East End in 1420.

Other bells cast that day were for Sydney, Australia; Wye, Kent; and Beoley, Worcestershire.

Pouring the molten metal into one of our bell moulds.
The Rector (Tony Berry)
Churchwardens (Tony Sparrow & Tim Prideaux) amongst the bells.
Filling the ladle with liquid metal. The ladle is then trundled out on an overhead crane to each bell.
The bell for Sydney alongside that for Abinger. The furnace man (background) removes the 'scum' from the molten metal and checks the temperature. The metal for bells is approx. 23% tin, 77% copper. After hours of cooling, the mould is broken open and the bell is ready for tuning - a 20th century precision machining process with electronic sensors giving a sound read-out of great accuracy.
Dedication of the new bells October 2000. Tony Sparrow, Bishop of Guildford, Tim Prideaux, Tony Berry.
Existing No 6 Tenor bell
3 new bells ready to install
  No. 2 bell being hoisted
All 3 new bells in position in St James' belfry