[Bell Historians] York St John

David Bryant davidbryant at ...
Mon Oct 10 14:26:29 BST 2005

>Would there ever be the prospect of ringing the bells as a
>demonstration during opening hours? It would be a novel
>entertainment for the patrons and wonderful PR for ringing.

A good idea in theory, but I don't think it would work in practice. The bar 
is in the base of the tower, this being the obvious place to put it as it 
allows counters in each of the three arches - one to the nave, and the other 
two into the aisles. The ropes therefore fall within the area used by the 
bar staff, so it wouldn't be practical to ring while people were serving at 
the bar.

There used to be a breeze-block wall in the eastern arch, which supported 
the bell frame on that side (the frame is very low down - well below the 
apex of the nave roof as the timber-and-brick tower above is not strong 
enough to take the bells). The wall was demolished as part of the 
conversion, and an RSJ inserted to support the bell frame. The bells have 
not been rung since this was done, but I shouldn't think there will be any 

The bells were rehung in 1955 by Taylor's, in a new frame and with new 
fittings. The building was at that time the Institute of Advanced 
Architectural Studies, and the aim was to prove to architects that it was 
possible to hang a ring of bells in a weak tower. In fact, it proves nothing 
of the kind as the bells are hung beneath the tower and beneath the top of 
the eastern arch, an arrangement which would, for visual reasons, be 
unacceptable in pretty much all churches still used liturgically.

The adviser to the scheme was Frederick Sharpe, and it was presumably he who 
specified arched canon retaining stocks for the back five, this being after 
Taylor's had started to use the hoop types as standard. For some reason, the 
treble, which was under-weight anyway, had a hoop-type stock which I'm told 
made it very difficult to ring with the others. In the late 1980s it was 
replaced by a larger bell, which is fitted with an arched stock (with a 
thick timber pad in place of the canons - it's a modern flat-topped Taylor 
bell).The headstocks make the bells turn slowly, and they are quite hard to 
strike well. I wonder why they have the arched stocks? Is there likely to be 
anything about the project in Fred Sharpe's papers?



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