Gransden Church Bells 

The Restoration Project

In 1976 a study was carried out on the condition of the bells. It was considered that most of the fittings had passed their useful life but as the bells were still ringable the parochial church council decided that restoration was not a priority at that time. In the 1990s a more detailed study was carried out on the condition of the timber bell frame, the tower and the bells and fittings. Extensive meetings with English Heritage, the Council for the Care of Churches and the Diocesan Advisory Committee, plus reports from a structural engineer and  bell frame expert Chris Pickford finally resulted in agreement that the bells should be re-hung.

The plan was to rehang into a new metal bell frame lower in the tower, in the then clock room. The clock and chiming apparatus were moved down to the then empty former ringing room to create a new clock room

Work started on Monday 27th march 2000. the clock was stopped and bell ringing ceased. Work on the fabric of the tower was a priority, then followed the dismantling of the clock on Friday 30th June. On Monday 3rd July the bells were dismantled and taken to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The re-tuned bells and a new No 3 bell were collected from the foundry on Monday 16th October 2000 and the installation completed on Friday 27th.The refurbished clock and chiming apparatus were returned in early 2001 and the whole works completed on Tuesday 20th March.

As with many projects of this type local ringers and friends helped with dismantling, cleaning the tower and re-hanging the bells. The structure of the tower was found to be sound but extensive re-pointing was carried out as part of the project. The opportunity was also taken to re-decorate inside from top to bottom whilst everything had been stripped out. The bird wire over the louvres was replaced and the tower is now weather and bird proof giving an environment which is easy to maintain and keep clean.

In 2005 phase 2 was completed by the installation of toilet and kitchen with new ringing room above. 

All photographs from the collection of Phillip George, copied from original photographs. Further photographs available for viewing.
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 Lead plaque formerly fixed on the north wall at the top of the tower bearing the initials of the churchwardens who were Nicholas Livett and Edward Elwood
 The tower shrouded in scaffolding ready for the re-pointing work
  This is now fixed on the inside parapet of the tower on the south side
   The tenor bell ready to be lifted from its frame
 Phillip George operating the endless chain lowering the tenor bell   Martin Waldron - Whitechapel bell hanger with PG behind the tenor bell safely lowered
   Bosun's chair to re-fit clock hands
The empty bell frame
   Bells waiting transportation to the Whitechapel bell Foundry
   Indents in the 2nd bells caused by the clock hammers
The school children were allowed to see the bells, a once in a lifetime experience accompanied by  Headmaster Peter  Adams
and teacher Louis
 The dismantling crew L-R Michael Capps, Phillip George, Rebecca George, Martin Waldron, David Hipwell, Neil Parker
   The new bell frame being assembled in the bell foundry
   The new No 3 bell is cast on the 1st September 2000
 We rang handbells for every morning service while the bells were at the foundry being tuned
L-R Chris morton, Sheila George, Ilse McFarlane, Grant McFarlane, Hazel Pettit, Phillip George, Kate Hewett, Cheryl Ward, David Ward
   Sheila George - Tower Captain, admires the new bell on return from the bell foundry
 Bells No 1,2 and 3 in the new bell frame waiting fittings to be added
   The re-hang crew L-R Peter Scott, Rev Bruce Curry (Priest in Charge), Michael Capps, Phillip George, Catherina Griffiths
  On the 22nd december we held a party on the newly boarded out old bell frame at the top of the tower, complete with Christmas tree, fairy lights and refreshments. We rang Christmas carols on handbells!

I bet that's never been done before!
Ringers' Party L-R back rows: Grant, Phillip, Mark, Rebecca, Catherina, Dave, Kate, Katie, Judith, Sheila. Front row: David H, Tim, Ilse, Hazel, Neil, Cheryl
     The re-dedication service on the 26th April 2001 was led by The Rt Rev John Flack, Bishop of Huntingdon
 Tower arch screen under construction in 2005        

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