St David's, Little Dewchurch, Herefordshire

sliceThe medieval bell towersliceRestored bellssliceBell ringers at the dedication of the restored bells

The bells

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Five bells were installed by Alfred White & Sons of Appleton during the restoration of the church in 1870. Two existing bells, one cast by John Finch of Hereford in 1656, the other by John of Gloucester probably around 1350, were augmented with three bells cast by Taylors of Loughborough in 1869-70.

The Bells Restoration Project
During 1999 a group of villagers was taught to ring in preparation for the Millennium celebrations. At this time the bells were quite a challenge, the old wooden fittings being affected by damp, worm and age. It soon became obvious that unless some major work was done in the tower the bells would become unringable.

Quotes were obtained from several 'bell-hangers', and the bell-ringers undertook to raise the £40,000 necessary.  A grant was promised from the Hereford Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers' Bell Restoration Fund and fund raising started in earnest in September 2002 with a 'soap-box derby', which was so popular that it has been run every year since. Further grants were obtained from the Elmley Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

These grants, along with many gifts from local people, draws, barn dances, plant sales, treasure hunt, a special village calendar and local people paying for inscriptions on the new bells meant that by the end of 2004 the work could begin.

Berry & Co of Malvern were chosen to undertake the work in the tower.  All the old fittings, frame, bells, soil and dirt were removed, and a completely new framework of cast iron sides mounted on rolled steel joists was installed.

New Ring of Six Bells
The old Taylor tenor bell (the lowest toned) was recast as it was too flat to be tuned to the medieval John of Gloucester bell.  The other two old Taylor bells were tuned to match the medieval bell and a new bell added to make a tuneful ring of six bells in the key of A, the tenor bell now weighing 7cw 3 qtrs 10 lbs.  The bell casting was carried out by John Taylor & Co at their works in Loughborough. All the bells were returned after tuning and then Berry & Co rehung them with all new fittings in the new framework and put in new floors and a ceiling.

Sunday 9th October 2005 saw the culmination of all this work when the bells were dedicated by the Bishop of Hereford, the Right Reverend Anthony Priddis, and the bells rang out once more in their full glory.

Bells at the foundry

The bells at Taylors' foundry in Loughborough.