The Abbey Bells

the bells from aboveThe Abbey boasts the largest Norman church tower in existence measuring 14 metres square and 45 metres high. Records refer to a wooden spire, but this collapsed in 1559.


It is not clear what bells were in the tower at this time, but it is known that there was a small detached tower in the churchyard.

In 1539 when the monastery was dissolved, Henry VIII sold eight bells to the parish for £142, the majority of monastic bells elsewhere being melted down to make cannon for Henry VIII’s warships.


By the early 1600s, there were only four bells. An extra bell was then added in 1612.

In 1696, the bells were recast and augmented to eight by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester. At that time, the Rudhall bell foundry was one of the most prominent in the country. In 1837, the eight bells were restored with a new frame and ringing floor built locally by James Cull. The frame and ringing floor are still in use today.


In 1914, the bell frame was extended and two new bells were added by Mears & Stainbank of Whitechapel, London to form a ring of ten bells. Only 20 years later, two more bells were added, this time by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough to complete the ring of twelve bells.


In 1962 the poor sound of this ‘mixture’ of bells was such that a brand new ring of twelve bells was cast by John Taylor & Co. Four of the old bells, including two cast in 1696 were retained for use as clock bells.


In 1991, a new semitone bell (a ‘flat sixth’) was added to provide a lighter octave.


For more information go to The Bells of Tewkesbury Abbey website or click on Central Council of Church Bellringers

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