The Bells, Part 1

Richard Major has been doing further research on the bells. He posted this article in the Parish News for November 2014:-

With the completion of the recent work on our bells I thought it might be interesting to explore their history a little. When bells are cast it is common practice for inscriptions to be incorporated into the pattern identifying the founder, year and perhaps giving further information. Five of our bells are dated 1717, one 1747, one 1846 and the treble (highest note) has the twin dates of 1809 and 1880. Some have suggested that this indicates that 5 bells were installed in 1717 with further bells being added over the years. This interpretation cannot be true since a peal board of 1731 indicates that 8 bells were being rung and therefore I decided to see what further evidence could be found.
I have been unable to find any written records leading up to the installation of these new bells but the accounts of Richard Owen, Churchwarden in 1717, provide us with interesting insights. Unfortunately no complete dates are given but the story of the new bells does become clearer.
The Church Guide of 1987 suggests that there were 4 bells originally and other details are provided in An Oswestry Miscellany by John Pryce-Jones with the 1717 accounts showing the sum of 5 shillings (25p in today’s money) “For takeing downe the Bells”. It then lists 9 shillings “Pd for carrying them to Shrewsbury” and £1 “Pd the bargeman”. The bell founder was Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester and this last entry indicates that the old bells were shipped down the Severn to be recast into all or part of the new ring.
With respect to the new bells we have the following entries:-
Pd for ye new ring of Eight Bells £43 4s
Pd for loading ye new Bells 5s
Pd a watchman ye night 1s
Pd for timber for ye Bell Fram £ 1 15s
Pd for Sawing said Timber 4s 6d
Pd Tho ffrancis’s for making the
Bell Wheels and frame £ 2 4s 6d
Pd Robert Tomley towards his sallery
and iron work for ye Bells £ 4 6s
Pd for painting ye Bell Wheels 6s
Pd for nails for ye wheel 4s 8d
Pd for Bell Ropes 13s 10d
Pd John Ellis for mending ye
Chime Floore 16s
Pd for the Chimes £ 7 6s 8d

This makes it quite clear that 8 new bells were cast in 1717 and 5 of them will have their 300th birthday in 3 years’ time. In the future I will try to explore some of the significant ringing at St Oswald’s and explain why some bells have different dates.
The ringers are most grateful for the financial support shown recently to allow maintenance work on the bells and would always be happy to hear from anyone wishing to learn to ring.
Richard Major

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