Article: Frank Morton
Photographs: Jonathan White
The heaviest six bells in the St Mary’s Church tower, on Church Lane in Wistaston, celebrate their centenary this year, as their dedication service took place on 19th February 1921.
Of these bells the two oldest were originally cast in the reign of Charles II, 1675 by an unknown founder. These bells would have been hung in the church that was on the present site, then transferred to the church building to the south of the present, and then back again to the present church in 1827.
A further two bells were added in 1876, cast by J Warner of London. These four bells were mounted on a wooden frame. Around 1900 it is believed that two of the bells were cracked and the wooden frame unserviceable. It was decided to make an appeal to recast all four bells and add a treble and tenor to form a ring of six bells. This work was carried out by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon and the new peal hung in a steel and cast iron frame.
Inscription and cast weight of the bells:
- Treble. G sharp. This bell was placed to the memory of members of Wistaston Bible Class who fell in the Great War 1914-18 by their fellow members and the Girl’s Friendly Society. Gillett and Johnston 1921. 1 cwt, 3qr, 22lb.
- 2nd. F sharp. God Save the King 1675. 2cwt, 2qr, 2lb.
- 3rd. E. God Save the King 1675. 2cwt, 3qr, 12lb.
- 4th. D sharp. John Warner, London 1876. 3cwt, 1qr, 21lb.
- 5th. C sharp. John Warner, London 1876. 4cwt, 2qr, 11lb.
- Tenor. B. presented by Arthur Knowles of Alvaston in memory of his wife, Mildred Clare, who died Dec 2nd 1913 and his son, Richard Arthur Lees, MC, KRRC, who was killed near Salonica Feb 24th 1918. Gillett and Johnston 1921. 6cwt, 6lb.
A further two bells were added in 1982 to complete the octave:
- 1st. B. Hope. Whitechapel Foundry 1982. 1cwt, 3qr.
- 2nd. A sharp. Charles Acton. Whitechapel Foundry 1982. 1cwt, 3qr, 6lb.
FR Morton, Tower Captain, said: “Although a celebration will not be possible this year due to the present situation, it is hoped to hold a 350th celebration for the original casting of the two oldest bells in 2025.”
For further information relating to St Mary’s, Wistaston please visit their Facebook page.