Until November 2009, fixed in a turret over the Eastern gable end was a single bell hung for swing chiming and with the inscription :
John Warner & Sons London1872
It measures 430mm diameter and the overall height to the underside of the headstock is 400mm.
It was removed on November 20th 2009 as part of the insulating and re-slating of all the roofs, after the school was closed and sold to a private buyer.
The bell cage was found to be in an advanced state of decay and a complete replica cage has been constructed for it. The existing brass bearings were re-bushed and the bell re-hung on a new Oak headstock with new strapwork.
The original architect’s plans of 1872, (NRO P/BG103) whilst specifying the details of the finial, (No 67 in the list of Walter Macfarlane and Co. 84 Upper Thames Street E.C.) make no mention of Warners supplying the bell or indeed if they were to construct the complete turret. However, such work was a normal part of their trade as shown here in their catalogue.
(this image:courtesy of George A Dawson)
It was certainly funded as a separate item by the Rector; £21-0s-0d for the contract for the turret and his wife, Mrs. G.E.Tatham £14-14-0d for the bell. ”This with other donations to the school was the result of a Bazaar & Concert held for the sake of the turret etc.”(NRO PD 621/23)
The bell would have had to be hung in the cage from above, before the roof was added or from below before the entire unit was fitted in situ. Whichever, it would have been then, as now, one of the more spectacular of the building operations taking place in 1872. One side of the replacement cage is now removable.
The roof timbers are, happily mostly in reasonable condition and the completed turret was lifted back into position.
Because of the expense and difficulty of removing the bell, local ringers did not pursue the offer from the Diocese to remove it for use elsewhere before the sale of the school. Had they done so, it would have been a real disappointment for the new owners, and it is indeed fortunate that they have taken such care and pride in restoring this bell to use in a safe home for the foreseeable future.
Copyight Peter Trent 2014