St. Peter-ad-Vincula, Coggeshall.

Bellringers

President: Revd. Chris Davey
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The Bells

Although we know there were bells in Coggeshall in the early 16th century with references to donations for the repair of bells being made, the first ring of bells that we know about is when Miles Graye III of Colchester recast six bells in Mr. Ennows barn in Coggeshall. Three were cast on 8th November 1681 and the other three on 23rd December of that year. However, two of these six bells were recast in 1682 and another in 1683 so not a great success.

In June 1874 the six bells were recast and rehung by Messrs Warner & Son of London in a new frame made to accommodate eight bells. In 1876 Warners cast two trebles to complete the octave. The bells ran on plain bearings and were hung on wooden headstocks, fitted with traditional wheels and stays. They were rung from the ground floor and the length of rope involved must have made them quite a challenge to handle.

On 16th September 1940 a bomb was dropped, landing in the churchyard. This caused considerable damage to the tower but the bells were OK, the frame staying in place within the collapsed tower. Scaffolding was erected and by this means it was possible to lower the bells, one by one, to ground level. With tremendous support from the parishioners, both in time and materials, a cage was built to temporarily house the bells where they remained until they were taken to the Loughborough Bellfoundry of John Taylor & Co for retuning prior to being hung in the rebuilt tower.

As the Millennium approached thought again turned to augmentation. The specification was that the front six should be a good six in their own right and the ten should be of some consequence.

Three of the original ring of 2nd, 6th and 8th were offered for sale on the Keltec list. The second was sold to St. Mary's church, Coity, Mid Glamorgan where it was installed as a clock bell; the sixth was sold to the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Donyall, Somerset where it was added to a ring of four bells as a treble to form a ring of five. The tenor was sold to the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney where they were looking for a large bell to hang on a cliff-top as a work of art.

The new tenor came from St. Barnabas, Penny Lane, Liverpool. The new sixth, which became the seventh of the new ring was originally a single 1904 Taylor bell at Christ Church, Taney, Dundrum, Dublin. The new treble was cast specially and paid for with a grant from a bequest left to the Essex Association of Change Ringers by Frank Lufkin. Two other bells were cast for the 9th and the 3rd of the new ring.

This ring of ten was tried out for the first time in December 2000 and has been in use since - both on practice nights and for Sunday services. The specification was reached with the front six forming a very good light six ideal for teaching and the ring of ten being of some consequence with compliments coming from visitors.