Ringing for more than 400 years.
Of the six bells in this early sixteenth century tower three were cast by Henry Oldfield II (1582-1619) of Nottingham and are dated 1596. They are the oldest dated bells yet found in the county and no doubt replaced those which hung here in pre-reformation times. In 1710 a treble and tenor were added by Gabriel Smith of York foundry. These were the only 2 bells credited to have been cast by Gabriel Smith. The coronation of Edward VII gave the incentive for further work and a fund was raised for the complete restoration of the ring. This was completed in 1904 when Taylor’s of Loughborough added a new tenor and tuned the old five.
In 1960 the bells were re-hung in ball bearing mounts. (The date on the Iron H-frame and headstocks is ’59.) In 2016 the frame was showing signs of considerable corrosion so was cleaned and painted by the ringers, taking five weeks to complete. In 2018 Taylor’s inspected the bells and quoted for work deemed to be necessary to keep the bells ringing for another 400 years. Fundraising started; then in 2020 Matthew Higby & Co gave an estimate for the work required, which was the option chosen, and once we had secured sufficient funds with grants and donations we were able to place the order.
The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that they have a large backlog of work, but now our bells are restored (June/July 2023) with refurbished bearings, roller boxes, and new clapper assemblies. The remains of the cast-in crown staple have been successfully drilled out of the 5 older bells. The crown staples are the means by which the clappers are suspended inside the bell and were in place when the bells were originally cast. These were changed at some stage, but stumps were left in with the potential to rust and crack the bell over time.
More about the fascinating history of the bells can be found in Kenneth B. Senar's book: "Saint Alban's. Our Parish Church in Tattenhall".
St. Alban's is part of Chester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell ringers / Chester branch.
Practice Night at St. Alban's is 7.30pm to 9:00pm most Tuesdays. Want a try? - please call the Tower Captain Carolyn Vickers 01829 770542 or send us a message HERE or call in on a practice night for a chat. Extra tuition time is available, by arrangement, for learners on ‘tied’ bells, where the clapper is immobilised so no sound is made externally.