Following much fund-raising, a benefactor has come forward and very generously offered to pay the balance needed for the work, mentioned below, to commence.
This means that the bells will leave St. Mary’s on 19th February and journey to Bridport. The work should be completed by May this year.
Following the completion of the restoration and conservation of St. Mary’s Tower, we turn our attention to the bells….
Mudford has five bells, the oldest being the third, cast in 1592.
The lightest, the first at the top of the scale, or Treble as it is known, was cast by the Perdue Foundry at Closworth in 1664. (Closworth is a very small village just outside Yeovil on the A37).
The second was cast by William Wiseman of the Montacute Foundry in 1623.
The fourth, previously a 1662 bell, is now a Warner of Spitalfields London, bell as it was re-cast by them in 1914.
The fifth, or Tenor, weighs 17cwt 1qtr 18lbs and is another Perdue bell cast in 1666.
There was extensive restoration to the bells and bell frame in 1774 and again in 1914 when Warners rehung the bells with new cast iron headstocks in a massive oak frame.
Since then, only limited maintenance has been carried out on the bells and fittings as required, with the result that over the intermediate one hundred years the bells are now in need of serious attention.
The bearings, that are of the simple type of a steel spigot running in a brass shell, have become so worn that any lubricant runs out of them and the bell becomes very hard to ring, whilst the lack of lubrication accelerates the wear even more.
With the bells in this condition it is almost impossible to teach anyone to ring them and even experienced ringers when asked to ring for a wedding will raise an eyebrow in reply!
If the bells are rehung on modern ‘sealed for life roller bearings’, they will need no maintenance as such for many years. In addition, they would be a pleasure to ring and would be user friendly, allowing the teaching of a younger generation of ringers to call the parish to church.
For further information please speak to the Churchwarden, Dr Bill Watkins Tel: 01935 850859