CHANGE RINGING AT WORTLEY

Our Bells

The tower when originally built had one bell placed in it. It was cast by W & T Houlden in 1751 and had a diameter of 24 inches. It had the inscription: T Smith I Backhous, Chap Wardens, Nosce Teipsum 1751. This information is recorded in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Volume 17.

In 1893 a full peal of 8 bells cast by John Warner & Sons bell founders of London were installed in the tower. They were 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 continued to provide faultless service but by the late 1980’s the plain bearings were showing signs of wear particularly on the 7th 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 ball bearings and fitted with new clappers allowing all eight to be rung again.

In 2016 the bells were overhauled and tuned by John Taylor & Co Bell Foundry. This has set them up in good ringing order for the foreseeable future. The 8 bells are mounted on metal headstocks with ball bearings and new clappers. New sliders and pulleys have been fitted and the wheels reconditioned. They are all mounted in the original massive oak bell frame which was found to be in excellent condition.

The bells are important to Wortley. We must make sure they continue to be used, in the words of the inscription “To the praise and glory of God and for the continual joy and comfort of the people of Wortley”. Future generations will want to ring them, hear them being rung for services, tolled for funerals, celebrate events and have them rung for their weddings. Bells mean lots of things to lots of people. The bell ringers prayer mentions the way bells are perceived by those that hear them.

Almighty God may the sound of these bells
Which we ring to thy glory
Cheer the sick, comfort the sorrowful
Warn the heedless and call all willing hearts
To prayer and praise
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

The tower of St Leonard’s was built circa 1753. A bell cast in 1751 by W&T Houlden and measuring 24 inches in diameter was the only bell in the tower up to 1893.

In 1893 a full peal of 8 bells, cast by John Warner & Sons of London was installed in the tower. They were 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 records the following:

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, D.D., LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK, JULY XXXI, M.D.CCCXCIII.

O PRAISE GOD IN HIS HOLINESS PRAISE HIM UPON THE WELL-TUNED CYMBALS LET EVERY THING THAT HATH BREATH PRAISE THE LORD O, YE SPIRITS AND SOULS OF THE RIGHTEOUS BLESS YE THE LORD; PRAISE HIM AND MAGNIFY HIM FOR EVER.

The bells are mounted in a substantial oak frame in the bell chamber at the top of the tower. All the bells hang from solid elm headstocks.

Directly below the bell chamber is the clock room which houses a 3 train turret clock built by W. Potts of Leeds in 1893. The clock has dials on the north and south sides of the tower. The 3 trains (gears) strike the hours, chime the quarter hours and drive the hands around the dials.

There is a manual chiming apparatus installed in the tower which allows just one person to chime changes or tunes on the bells.

Access to Wortley’s tower and ringing chamber is gained by a long straight wooden ladder.

We have a small team of bell ringers at Wortley and we are keen to encourage more people to learn to ring

"A timeless art, carried out by generations of ringers since the end of the 17th century."

Church bell ringing is a team activity that is good mental exercise; it challenges you to use your brain and helps to keep you fit. By learning to ring you will be part of a global group of friends, start a lifelong learning experience, maintain a traditional skill and serve your community. It is a fun hobby open to everyone. The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) has more information about learning to ring at: www.cccbr.org.uk

Ringing does not require a large amount of effort, only ability to count, a sense of timing and a willingness to ring for Sunday services. No musical knowledge is needed. Ringing is well within the capabilities of most people. We do not have a regular practice night but once we have trained some ringers we will re-establish a regular weekly evening practice. Wortley tower and ringers are members of the Yorkshire Association of Change Ringers, Sheffield Branch.

Why not get in touch and arrange to come and visit the tower and see what we do? Please contact us about bell ringing by email to: wortleytower@gmail.com

Our neighbouring church at Ecclesfield 4 miles away is a CCCBR recognised Ringing Centre. Their website has a wealth of information about church bell ringing: www.ecclesfieldtower.org.uk

To contact the bell ringing team please use the following:

Email:wortleytower@gmail.com
Phone: 07851727306

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