Bells have been rung at Chalfont St Giles Church for 400 years and nowadays are regularly rung on Sundays, thus maintaining the tradition. On request, we are very happy to ring the bells at your wedding or village events. Visitors are always welcome to come and see us at any of the standard ringing times, and if you would like to learn, we would be delighted to teach you.
John Davidge is an experienced bellringer with a great interest in teaching and bell maintenance. He is Tower Captain/Ringing Master and he also helps at Stoke Poges church.
John can be reached on 01494 873325 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The ringing times are:
Sundays (service) 10.30am
Tuesdays (practice) 7.45pm
More information on the Chalfont St Giles Bell Ringers
The tower of Chalfont St. Giles Parish Church was built around 1425 and it is likely that the bells and frame were installed at this time; it is very probable that this was the size of the ring for about two hundred years. A record dated 1714 states that there were four bells but no details are given. From the "cut-outs” in the present mediaeval oak frame it is reasonable to assume that these bells were larger than the heaviest four of our present peal.
Our record of the history of the bells really begins in 1742 when the bells were melted down and recast into a ring of five by Robert Catlin in a foundry in Whitechapel. As the overall size of the oak frame could not be increased due to lack of space in the tower, the frame was modified and an extra bell pit installed across the ends of the two existing pits to accommodate the additional bell. The total cost of the work was £46. 12s.4d and the new treble bell (the present 4th) has the interesting inscription “Tho I am small I will be heard amongst you all". This bell only remained the lightest of the peal for just over twenty years, for a new treble bell, cast by Lester and Pack ( a successor to Catlin) at Whitechapel was added to augment the ring to six bells in 1764. At the same time the old 3rd bell was recast. The new treble bell (the present 3rd) has the inscription "Raised by valentary subscription". In order to accommodate the new bell in the belfry it was necessary to create a new frame to hold the bell above the existing one.
The ring of six bells was the basic arrangement that lasted for the next two hundred years. In that period any changes recorded resulted from maintenance rather than redesign. In 1820, the 3rd and the 6th (tenor) bells were recast by Thomas Mears, again at Whitechapel, and in 1889 the bells were re-hung by Greenleaf and Blackbourn of Salisbury.
The bells were again re-hung in 1928. This work was carried out by the Whitechapel Foundry (the successor to several foundries that once existed in that area of London (including Robert Catlin, Lester & Pack and Thomas Mears) and included new bell fittings and considerable work to strengthen the much-modified oak frame. They also recast and refitted the clock bell - at a total cost of £174.2s.Od.
The ring was increased from six to eight bells in 1983 by the addition of a new treble and 2nd bell. In keeping with tradition, the new bells were cast at Whitechapel and were donated by local people, Margery & Frank Plumb, and by Brian Edwards (one of the ringers). As space is severely limited, the two new bells were installed in a steel frame (in the clock room beneath the old bell chamber) that was constructed and given by one of the ringers, John Davidge, in memory of his parents.
Since then, much maintenance has been carried out on the frame and fittings by the ringers and, as result, the bells and the frames are in a very good condition, especially in view of the ages of some of the bells and, in particular, the age of the wooden frame. The original bells were never properly tuned because the equipment to do so did not exist at the time, so in 1996 the ringers raised the money to put this right and the bells were all retuned to make a better match.