Heaviest Three

RingingMatters at a... RingingMatters at a...
Tue Jul 1 17:41:11 BST 2003

Correspondence about the heaviest six prompts me to ask about the heaviest 
three. When the bells at Kirkby Malham were rung in the late 80’s,after a gap 
of several decades, their reputed weights were:
Treble 14 cwt, 2nd 17cwt and Tenor 25 cwt.
At those weights they would have formed a formidable trio!  

As an aside may I mention that ringing restarted after the visit of a three 
bell enthusiast when several villagers went along to watch. After the 
departure of this enthusiast three of the villagers decided to teach themselves to 
ring! This they did, on their own without any further advice or outside help, by 
swinging the bells further and further from the "down" position until the 
bells "stood"! This must be an unusual feat. Although not as heavy as claimed, 
the bells were in a creaking wooden frame, hung in plain bearings (greased 
from a pan of goose fat), with a 65ft draft and going badly.

Of these bells the following was written, by the vicar, in 1923:
BELLS: Tenor (25 cwt) 1601: the gift of Josias Lambert of Calton.

On the Website "The Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Kirkby Malham."  
Compiled by David Tippey, 1999 appears the following:
"Next to the baptistery is the area below the tower where the bells are rung, 
they are probably the heaviest peal of three in Yorkshire and the great tenor 
weighs (1.275 tonnes) and bears inscription "God save our Church and Queen 
and Realme" and is dated 1601. This makes it the second largest church bellin 
Yorkshire after the great tenor bell at Ripon Cathedral." 

I have no idea where this information came from but it is clearly erroneous.  

Not only is the tenor cast in 1602 but who has suggested that it is the 
second largest church bell in Yorkshire? Did he mean "in the diocese of Ripon"?  
Was this true in 1602 or, indeed, ever?

We now know that the three bells weigh: 10cwt 3qr 16lb, 13cwt 0qr 7lb and 
17cwt 2qr 16lb, still a noteworthy 41cwt 2qr 11lb total weight.

Was there, prior to July 2002, a heavier ring of ringable bells (tuned as a 
three), anywhere? I am told that there was a heavier unringable three (in 
Wales?), and another ringable ring tuned as something like the 3rd, 5th andtenor 
of an eight somewhere in England. Our 41½cwt trio were tuned as a three and 
are now the 6th, 7th and tenor of a very enjoyable eight.

Any information would be gratefully received.

Malcolm Bland
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