History of the Bells

Although not mentioned in the Doomesday Book (Survey 1008), there was a church on the site obviously there was not any bells as at this time church bells had not been invented. The church was more or less rebuilt and the tower and spire added in the year 1340. The earliest record of bells in Bythorn was in the T.R.E (Tempore Regis Edwardi VIth). The church inventory census of 1552 states "remaining in Bithorne item IIJ (3) bells in the steaple. A Sanctus bell". In fact the first bell hung in he tower was a bell cast by William Rufford, a London bellfounder, c1360. The bell being cast locally in the church yard or in a nearby field.

Between the years 1385 and 1400, two more bells were added, this time by William Dawe, another London bellfounder, plus a Sanctus bell which would have been above the church arch. The tower bells were hung in a primitive timber bell cage possibly all on one level as a full circle ring. Ringing had not been introduced. It appears the pre-Reformation were of poor tone which is often the case in this period.

In 1620, the second bell of the three was recast at the Stamford Bell Foundry by Toby Norris. The bells, at this time, were hung by sheer bands nailed to the stocks with brads and spiles.

In 1674, the tenor bell (then the third) was recast by Thomas Norris of the same foundry.

In 1682, the bells were taken down and the old bell cage removed. A new treble bell was added, cast by Henry Bagley of Ecton, making the ring into a four.

A new bell cage (the existing bell frame) was constructed in the tower and the bells re-hung in 1711. The now second bell (the old treble) was recast be Henry Penn of the Peterboough Bell Foundry. The bells were all rehung on new ironwork with cotterals and feather wedges by Robert Wright, church bell hanger of Oundle.

In 1797, the bells underwent a thorough restoration. The bell wheels were repaired in 1802 and 1820 by William Twelvetrees.

The bells were overhauled in 1823.

In 1826 the number one and two bells were re-hung on new headstocks and supporting ironwork by George Peach & Sons, Blacksmiths and church bellhangers of St. Neots.

In 1828 and 1833, there was restoration work on the bells by Vinters.

In 1830, the bell wheels were repaired by Eatons of Titchmarsh. Joinery work was carried out on the bells by Vinters in 1842.

A new bellwheel was made and fitted by William Twelvetrees in 1848. The great bell was reparied in 1851 by Townsley and Ashby.

In 1854, the tower was repaired and the spire rebuilt with a new weather cock fitted. The work was carried out by Eatons of Titchmarsh, church builders, bellhangers, wheelwrights and undertakers, who also at this time made safe the parapet wall, repaired the bell wheels and washed the inside of the church.

In 1860, the wheels were yet again repaired by Eatons. In 1865, the bell cage was repaired and strengthened by Townsley, who also made a new bell stay.

In 1867 and 1871, the numbers three and four bells were re-hung on new crown ring gudgeons by Eatons.