The tower when originally built in 1750 had one bell hung in it. It was cast by W & T Houlden in 1751 and had a diameter of 24 inches. It had the following inscription: T Smith I Backhous, Chap Wardens, Nosce Teipsum 1751. This information is recorded in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Volume 17. It is not known what happened to this bell.

The Ring of Eight

In 1893 a full peal of 8 full-circle change ringing bells cast by John Warner & Sons bell founders of London were installed in the tower. It is one of three sets of Warner balls in the YACR Sheffield and District Branch.

This required modifications to be made to the top of the tower which had not been built to house a ringing peal of bells. To carry the load of the bells and frame a massive timber supporting truss was installed inside the tower walls and resting on corbels halfway down the tower. This takes the weight and the forces created by the swinging bells lower down where the walls are much thicker.

At this time Warner’s were bellfounders to HM Queen Victoria. The bells are a gift from Mary Caroline, the Marchioness of Drogheda who was the sister of the first Earl of Wharncliffe; they were given in memory of her husband Henry.

The inscription cast on the Tenor bell is “To the praise and glory of God and for the continual joy and comfort of the people of Wortley for the use of the Church of S Leonard, these bells being the gift of Mary Caroline, Marchioness of Drogheda, daughter of John Second Lord Wharncliffe, in perpetual memory of her beloved husband Henry, Third Marquis of Drogheda, who died June XXIX, MDCCCXCII, were dedicated by the most Rev W D MacLagan, DD, Lord Archbishop of York, July XXXI, M.D.CCCXCIII”.

For the best part of 80 years the bells provided faultless service but by the late 1980’s the plain bearings were showing signs of wear particularly on the seventh and Tenor and for a time these two bells were silenced leaving only the front 6 able to be rung. The seventh and Tenor were subsequently re-hung on new ball bearings and fitted with new clappers allowing all eight to be rung once again.

The condition of bells 1 to 6 and all the pulleys and clappers continued to deteriorate. By 2013 they were causing serious concerns. The ‘go’ of the bells was difficult, the bearings were bumping, wheels were losing their stability and pulleys and sliders very worn. The PCC in partnership with the YACR Sheffield Branch and the Diocese of Sheffield took action to rectify the problems.

The church had not had a regular full team of ringers for many years. A new band was formed consisting of 3 original Wortley ringers and supplemented with ringers from the team at Ecclesfield. A recruitment drive and return of lapsed ringers from elsewhere formed the new Wortley Church Bell Ringers. Andrew Beevers was appointed Tower Captain by the team and PCC in 2013.

Fund raising began and local people, businesses and others from further afield donated money to match fund several grant applications. The main grant funder was Viridor Credits, the Landfill Community Fund which provided half of the total costs of over £50,000.

In 2015 all the bells were removed from the tower overhauled and tuned by John Taylor & Co Bell Foundry in Loughborough. The local team and members of the Branch helped with the labouring work. They were rehung back in the tower in 2016. This has set them up in good ringing order for the foreseeable future. The 8 bells had their Doncaster Canons removed and new metal headstocks fitted with ball bearings and new clappers. New sliders and pulleys have been fitted and the wooden wheels reconditioned. They are all mounted in the original massive timber bell frame which was found to be in excellent condition.

The ringing room was decorated, and new carpet tiles laid. The new team of ringers established in 2013 recruited more learners and the team numbers increased. Since 2013 the bells have been rung for Sunday services, practice night one per week and to celebrate weddings and special occasions.



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