Then there were six!

With great delight, it is announced that the Ab Kettleby bell augmentation is now complete! Work finished on the treble bell late last week, completing the full peal of six.

It’s been a long journey, which started just over two years ago when the original three bells were repaired following the church restoration. With the promise of a new tenor being donated to the church, plans were made to start regular ringing, with a view to building a local band to ring the augmented peal. Shortly afterwards, two further bells were found and made available to Ab Kettleby, but they weren’t a good musical fit. It was decided instead to cast two new bells, and two donors came forward to fund the castings.

Bell handling teaching commenced in June 2014 amid much enthusiasm for the project from villagers. Slowly and steadily, the newly formed band built handling skills, and new members joined the team with ages ranging from 9 to 60! At the time of writing, the Ab Kettleby band totals 14 ringers and learners. A further 3 ringers from neighbouring towers provide regular valuable assistance!

With the bells secured, and bell hanging being offered on a voluntary basis, funds were needed for the fixtures and fittings – both fittings for the bells, but also a new frame side as the existing frame had been created for five bells, even though there was an obvious space for a sixth. Grants were applied for, local businesses approached for help, and fundraising from individuals took place. In just a few months, the modest sum required was reached, and November 2014 saw the go-ahead being given for casting bells and frames.

Around the same time, preparation work started on the bell frame – decades of weather had taken its toll on the iron and steel frame, with multiple layers of rust and corrosion. Each part of the frame was painstakingly brushed and rubbed down to remove all loose debris. The frame was then sprayed with a rust converter to provide a suitable surface for overcoating with primer and paint.

The two new bells were cast at the John Taylor Bell Foundry on 5th February 2015, and a delegation of parishioners visited Loughborough to witness the spectacle.

The augmentation commenced in July 2015, with the dismantling of the existing three bells. Two of the bells needed to be removed for repair – the wooden bell ‘pads’ had also succumbed to the forces of weather, so were to be replaced by modern resin pads. While these bells were out of the tower, they received some light tuning to allow a correct match with the full peal of bells. The third bell was removed from the frame, but kept in the bell chamber as it was the frame side needing repair – the force of the rust underneath had caused the base of the frame to fracture. The weather damage to the frame meant some parts were extremely stubborn to remove – a last resort of angle grinding was necessary on some sections. With only one bell left in the chamber it provided the perfect opportunity to finish off the painting jobs.

September 2015 saw five bells arrive at Ab Kettleby – the two old bells, two brand new bells and the relocated tenor bell. Some villagers made the most of the warm autumnal evening and came to watch the bells being transported into the church and winched up in the tower – certainly not something to see very often! Frame repairs were taking longer than anticipated so it wasn’t until 31st October before the frame was reassembled and all of the bells had made it to their final destinations.

The old three bells were straightforward to get back to ringing again – no holes to be drilled, no sliders to fit, or pulley boxes to be lined up – just drop the rope down and attach to the wheels! The ringers were keen to return to Ab Kettleby for practice nights, so ringing returned to 3 bells at Ab Kettleby on 18th November 2015.

With unfortunate timing, the volunteers could not return until nearly Christmas to progress the augmentation any further. A significant milestone was achieved on Wednesday 23rd December, just prior to practice night when the new Second and Tenor bells were ‘roped’ and five bells rang out for the first time from Ab Kettleby! Time, however, had run out on getting the new treble up and running in time for Christmas.

That brings the story pretty much up to date – the missing parts for the treble arrived in Ab Kettleby on 7th January and with works completed, the treble was rung up and down a couple of times to test all was well.

Today, Wednesday 13th January, sees the Ab Kettleby bell-ringers ring the brand new six bell peal for the first time at the practice evening!

(Please note: The benefactors have requested that until they have been given the opportunity to ring the Ab Kettleby bells, visiting ringers will not be permitted to do so. The inagural Quarter Peal is planned for Saturday 16th January for the benefit of the donors, after which visiting bands will be welcome by arrangement.)

Leicester Diocesan Guild Quarterly Social

On Saturday evening (17th January), Ab Kettleby played joint host to the Leicester Diocesan Guild’s Quarterly Social event, with Long Clawson. (It was Melton District’s turn to host!) A contingent of 5 ringers from Ab Kettleby went over to neighbouring Long Clawson at 6pm and met with 30-40 ringers from all around the county. After an hour’s ringing of everything from rounds and call-changes to Yorkshire Surprise and Cambridge at Clawson, everyone made their way to Ab Kettleby to take advantage of a last opportunity ring our 3-bells as a 3! Cue methods such as Plain-Hunt Singles and Stedman Singles..!

By 8pm we had all made our way to the Sugar Loaf for a welcome drink and splendid buffet. Various donations of chocolate, wine and beer had been given as raffle prizes; cue frantic selling of raffle tickets to both bell-ringers and local villagers! We managed to raise £145 for the augmentation fund – and caused a bit of confusion in the process by using three books of raffle tickets, coloured Dark Green, Light Green and White!!

Watch our Bells Being Cast


The Tenor

The bell-ringers in Ab Kettleby are very keen to get three more bells into St James’ church, to add to the existing three. We are therefore looking forward, with some considerable excitement, to the casting of two brand new bells for our tower which will take place in February!

We have a very limited number of spaces to watch history literally being made as the new bells for Ab Kettleby will be cast at John Taylor & Co Bell Foundry in Loughborough on Thursday 5th February 1:30 pm. Tickets are £10 each, on a first-come-first-served basis.

To reserve your place on this “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, drop us a line via the contact us page, making sure you include your phone number and email address.

Target in sight

Bells at Ab KettlebyThis week sees news that Mars in the Community have awarded us a grant of £638 towards the augmentation project.

Along with other recent private donations, we now have over 90% of the funds secured to hang the new bells in the tower.

Augmentation Update

News on the augmentation appeal has been a little absent on the website of late, however, quite a bit has been happening in the background!

Bells at St James' Ab Kettleby

We have been awarded a couple of very significant grants. Leicester Diocesan Guild’s Bell Restoration Fund have very generously granted us £2,000 and East Midlands Airport Community Fund have awarded a £1,000 grant for the project. Meanwhile, in early summer, the Barbara Welby Trust had promised a £1,000 donation to the fund, which we gratefully received in October. Added to that, is an amazing £2200 from Captain James’ 100 mile bike ride, and £300 from the Sharpe Trust. All in all, October was a bumper month!

That puts us within 25% of our fundraising target for the fixtures and fittings. Two of our three additional bells will be new bells, the funding for which, is secure from individual donors. The exciting decision was therefore made to place the order for the two new bells as there is a few months’ lead time before they will be cast.

Confirmation was received this week, that the casting of our new bells will take place at John Taylor & Co Bell Foundry in Loughborough on Thursday 5th February 2015. Our new tenor should be in the bell foundry in Loughborough by Christmas ready for a tune up. As long as the remaining funds for the fixtures and fittings are in place at that time, the hanging of the bells should therefore take place during March and we could be ringing a new peal of six bells in time for Easter!

The casting of our bells may be viewed at John Taylor & Co., but numbers are limited – keep an eye on the website in coming weeks for details of how you can be there to witness history.

Sponsored Cycle Ride – Help Needed!


In aid of our augmentation appeal, I’m cycling 100 miles in the National Forest Autumn Challenge which starts from Loughborough on Sunday 5th October 2014.

I have never managed to cycle 100 miles in one day, let alone without a break! I am aiming to complete the non-stop challenge in under 6 hours!

Please be generous with your donation- every penny we raise will go towards the augmentation project.

Support James' 100 miles Cycle Ride



Thank you very much for your support

James (Tower Captain)


SallyWe’re very pleased to announce that donations for our Bell Augmentation Fund can finally be accepted online!

It’s been a bit of a struggle to work out the best way to achieve this, as the St James’ Ab Kettleby PCC is exempt from registering as a charity. Furthermore, the PCC does not have its own HMRC Gift-aid reference – all Gift-aid is claimed on behalf of the PCC by a third party. This virtually rules out conventional charitable giving websites, such as Just Giving and Virgin Money Giving. (Not to mention their rather steep fees and charges!)

Just when it looked like it might not be possible, came to the rescue with their Give.Net service. Stewardship themselves are a Christian based charity, and have been set up to specifically help churches with matters of a financial nature. That puts them in the right position to help small churches and PCCs with their knowledge and experience of how to start receiving donations on-line and claim the very valuable Gift-aid accordingly. Plus, because they are a charity, they don’t charge exorbitant fees which would very quickly erode the value of a donation.

To reward our hard-work in getting this off the ground, why not make a donation now and help us get the three new bells up into the tower?

To donate, just click on this button which you’ll find throughout the site:

Support us at

Thank you very much!