The Bells of Southwell Minster

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Bells of Southwell Minster' page
Photo:The Ringing Gallery

The Ringing Gallery

Some notes on their history

Edna Welthorpe

I came across these notes I had gathered some years ago about the different bells at Southwell Minster.  I'm sure the facts are not complete, but thought other people might be able to add to them.


The First Bells

The earliest record of bells at Southwell is the gift of two bells to the church by Archbishop Kinsius, Archbishop of York, who died in 1060.

Four hundred years pass before we find mention of the bells again.  This was in 1475 when, at the Visitation by the Chapter on 2nd October, John Bull, one of the Vicars Choral, is complained of and the first peal for matins is mentioned.

At the Visitation on 20th July 1481, we find "the church wardens and sacricist do not attend diligently to the bells as they ought to do".

Other complaints about the ringing of the bells appear up to 1519.

Bells in the 17th Century

After the space of another 100 years in 1635, another entry states that Richard Williams, lay clerk, replied "the clock and chymes are very much neglect".

In 1693 Thomas Wymondsold of Lambeth gave the church a set of chimes and 20 shillings a year towards keeping them.  The Wymondsolds owned the Saracens Head Inn and a house in Easthorpe.

Bells in the 18th Century

On 5th November 1711 a violent thunderstorm passed over Southwell; a fire broke out in the South west tower burning the tower, the roofs of the nave, and the transepts and the great central tower.  The organ was destroyed and the eight bells melted and destroyed.

Thos. Clay of Leicester signed an agreement in 1712 to recast, renew and make good the bells, but apparently they were not satisfactory for in 1719 many of the inhabitants of Southwell signed an agreement to contribute sums of money towards recasting the bells.

These were cast and supplied by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester in 1721, at a cost of £170 17s 6 1/2d.   They were transported to the Minster via barges on the River Trent. 

They bells bore the inscriptions "Abrm Ruddall of Glouster cast us all", "Peace and good neighbourhood", "Prosperity to this town", "Prosperity to our benefactors", "From lightning and tempest Good Lord deliver us", "Prosperity to the Chapter, Prosperity to the Church of England" and "I to the church the living call and to the grave do summon all".

The bells of today

In 1961 the bells of Southwell Minster were melted down and re-cast at the bell-foundry of Taylor's of Loughborough.

The original eight were recast and made into a peal of twelve, with a flat six, making a total of thirteen bells. 

Sir Stuart goodwin of Hexgreave park in Farnsfield donated £5000 towards the cost of recasting.

In the early 1900s the Minster authorities had taken up the bell floor and left a catwalk or gallery about 70ft from the ground, on which the bellringers stood.  As part of the 1960s re-casting, however, the whole floor was re-laid with oak timbers from Sherwood Forest.

This page was added by Edna Welthorpe on 14/08/2013.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.