Old bellframes and common sense....

matthewhigby at a... matthewhigby at a...
Fri Dec 17 10:14:48 GMT 2004

There is a to be a restoration of a long unringable six in our area. Sadly 
there is insufficient room in the tower to preserve the old bellframe intact.

There are basically two main options to preserve parts of the bellframe, all 
of which preserve one of the framesides in position:

1) Carefully dismantle the bellframe and mount four of the best framesides 
and cills on the ringing chamber wall, where they can be viewed in safety with 
good lighting (this has been done to good effect at Corfe Castle, Dorset). 
Leave the supporting beams in position and build the new bellframe in above 
them. Have framed drawings of how the bellframe developed, hung on the ringing 
chamber wall.

2) Cut all of the framesides in half, horizontally, leaving the cills and a 
small part of the braces in position. The new bellframe would then need to be 
put in at an even higher level, with the lip of the tenor when up, being 
level with the top of the sound exits. This would give no safe access for 
interested parties to inspect the preserved timberwork (effectively it would be 
entombed between 2 floors). Only the poorest example of a frameside would be left 
intact, all upper parts of the framesides being discarded.

What I want to know is - what do people think about preservation? Is it 
better to preserve framesides and cills out of context, where people can view 
them, or leave less of a bellframe, in context but inaccessible??

Opinions please??


Matthew Higby & Company Ltd,
Church Bell Engineers,
Jasmine Cottage,
The Street,
BA3 4HN.

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