Thrybergh Ravenfield Dalton

South Yorkshire England

            Pronounced locally Thrybur  Old English Triberg

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St Leonard's Church Bells

 

Inside the belfry photo from the late Lol Foster collection

 

History of the Bells

 

In the 15th century the Ralph Reresby of the time added the first bell to St. Leonard's in addition to the rebuilding of the Church. This original bell was inscribed with " Holy St Leonard pray to God for us" " Sancte Leonarde Ora Pro Nobis A Deum"


Bells have had many uses through the centuries, mainly to attract attention or give a warning. Lepers would carry bells and ring them when walking through a town or Village accompanied with the cry of "Unclean, unclean" Town Criers ring bells accompanied with a cry of " Hear Ye, Hear Ye" As we know bells were used on doors [ doorbells ], Bells used to ring for a maid by the rich, they were often used on counters in shops to ring for attention. Hawkers rang a bell to let you know of their presence on the street, The fire brigade once used bells on their trucks before the dreadful sounding sirens of today were introduced.


So bells were introduced in Churches to inform the surrounding populace that a religious event or service was happening.
Because bells were a part of everyday life many phrases concerning them found their way into everyday language, " His face rings a bell", " Dropped a clanger" " I should have heard the warning bells " etc..


Often like the stonemasons, bell tuners would leave chisel marks as identification on the bells and also these marks were a confirmation of their work being completed, it is often how they got paid. Bells in churches were originally very small like those used during a Catholic service today.

 

Although the use of bells was spreading by 400ad, it was around the 11th century that large Bells were introduced. Now although the bells from this period lacked the modern technology, it is noted that they lasted longer than bells made after the Reformation when the art of bell making was nearly lost. Modern Bells are given a better tonal quality, and have pieces chipped away during the initial tuning process to produce an accurate tone. The bell with the highest pitch is the treble, and the bell lowest in pitch is called the tenor. The tenor bell becomes the  key note of the scale. The bells are numbered, the treble being number 1, with the numbers continuing down the scale. Most bells are tuned to a diatonic major scale, 


England is not only still renowned for its manufacture of bells, but also for the standard of its bellringing.

 

The famous Liberty Bell of America was actually made in England.


Some of the bells at St Leonard's had to be restored in 1946, and one of the most notable bellfounders in the World today was asked to not only recast the bells but also cast a new bell. The Company chosen was John Taylor Bellfounders who can claim a  line of bellfounding which has been unbroken since the middle of the 14th Century, when Johannes de Stafford was active only 10 miles from the site of the present foundry. Since 1784 the business has been in the hands of the Taylor family.


In 1839 the business settled in Loughborough and is now proud to operate the largest bellfoundry in the world.


The 6 peal bells we hear today at St Leonards were added at lengthy intervals through the centuries, and are as follows:-
The original Tenor weighing over 8 cwt was cast by as yet an unknown bellfounder. In those early days Bells were cast right there at the Church, to which they were to be mounted in.
The second bell which was cast in 1586 by Quembis a Nottingham based Bellmaker and was inscribed with "Ano D MDL OOV1"
In 1609 a further bell was cast by another Nottingham bellmaker named Oldfield, with the inscription "Gloria in Excelsis Deo 1609 IHS GH"
John Reresby the Father of the famous John Reresby had the next bell inscribed in his honour
"John Reresby Esqwer 1638 HL" The Bellfounder of this additional bell is not known.


Next to the last bell to be acquired was donated to the Church by the one and only John Reresby the Diarist in 1687, and was given the longest inscription.
"Johannes Reresby Barontto Proeses CMTA11S Eboram SNB Regibus Carole EJ Lacabo Secundis Primam Hanc Posvit Campanam 14 Aprilis 1687"


During the restoration of the Church in 1871a period when many Churches in England were to be subject to alterations [ Not always for the better ] The bells were apparently stored within the Stables until ready for remounting.
It was not until 1946 that the Treble bell completed the 6 bell peal enjoyed today. This bell cast by Taylors  was in honour of Cannon Leigh Bennitt M. A.and Canon George H. C. Bowen M. A. and bears the inscription " Gloria in Excelsis Deo"
By 1946 serious repair work was required to not only some of the bells but also to the structure of the bellframe, obviously the pivots had by this time worn badly, so the new frame consisted of cast iron, and rolled steel was used for the foundation. Some of the later Bells had to be recast at this time.

 

 

Sources
 John Taylor Bellfounders
Colliers Encyclopedia
Peter Lawery
Rotherham Library

 

 

 

 

 

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