The Bells

Bells at Ab Kettleby

Weight Note Date Founder
Treble 3 • 3 • 7 E 2015 John Taylor & Co
2 4 • 1 • 0 D 2015 John Taylor & Co
3 4 • 1 • 6 C 1653 George I Oldfield
4 5 • 0 • 4 B 1599 Newcombe
5 5 • 3 • 8 A 1765 Thomas I Hedderly
Tenor 8 • 2 • 22 G 1929 John Taylor & Co

The oldest record of the bells at we have is in the national 1552 Edwardian Inventory of Church goods. It says “iii bells and a sanctus bell”. The Sanctus would have been a small bell probably not in the tower. There are still three bells in the tower. Through the years they have been damaged and recast. The smallest bell was recast in 1653 by George Oldfield I of Nottingham; the second bell in 1599 by a member of the Newcombe family of founders in Leicester and the largest bell by Thomas Hedderly I of Nottingham in 1765. The second bell is on a preservation list because of its antiquarian interest.

By 1950 everything had fallen into a parlous state of collapse. The timber frame had not only become a victim of extensive rot, but was also suffering a deathwatch beetle infestation. It was most certainly no longer safe to allow the bells to be rung; even leaving the bells hanging in situ was a cause for concern! They had to be entirely rehung on new fittings in a new cast iron and steel bell frame. At the time it was hoped to hang one larger bell, note G, to turn them into a major key and two smaller bells to produce a proper peal of six bells. Indeed the new bell frame was designed to hold this projected peal of six bells. It seems the money ran out before this could be done.

In 2006, the church was closed to the congregation just before Christmas due to concerns about its stability and the possibility of falling masonry. Structural movement had been noted at St James's for several years, but the sudden appearance of new cracks in the building in 2006 prompted the closure. The church remained closed while funds were raised and works carried out.

It was discovered that a major leak in the spire had caused significant damage to the treble bell's fittings - the wheel had rotted away, along with the Hastings stay wood stops; and one of the headstock bearings had failed because it was full of rust. After the leak in the spire had been addressed, and the louvres of the bell chamber made secure, repairs were carried out to the bells. They became ringable again at the end of 2013.

In 2015, the long anticipated augmentation took place. 65 years after the frame was installed, two brand new trebles and an older tenor were donated to the church to complete the peal of six.


Number 3

Number 3(prior to augmentation taking place)


Number 5

Number 5 (prior to augmentation taking place)