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Save Bushey's Church Bells

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Bells have rung out from St James' church for more than 500 years!

Without your help they could become silent!

The historic parish church of St James near the pond in Bushey village has some of its structure dating back to the 14th century.
The oldest bell in the tower dates back to the 15th century, and two of the other bells were cast two years before the Great Fire of London (1666). They were probably cast in the churchyard itself.
Five more bells were added around 1880 when the whole church had a major makeover. The bells were rehung in 1970.

There are currently eight bells in the tower, the heaviest being 12cwt, about the weight of a small car.
They are rung by a band of campanologists pulling ropes around wheels attached to the bells. They are not rung by machine!

The Ringers
Ringers are volunteers and new recruits are always welcome. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for inexperienced ringers to cope, and it would be far easier to train newcomers on bells with modern fittings.

Traditionally bells are rung to summon and welcome the congregation to services, and also for weddings, baptisms, civic events such as Remembrance Sunday, and to mark special events such as Royal births.

The Present Problem
The bells have become increasingly difficult to ring and youngsters and older people are finding it difficult to manage. The problem is that although the bells themselves are sound, the fittings and bearings are wearing out. In addition there is significant frame movement because there is an inadequate structure to support it, and because the members are too slender for the forces they must bear. Without attention the bells may become unringable, and the tower will fall silent.
Also, because we must retain the cannons on the ancient bells, special headstocks were fitted in 1970 which cause imbalance because of their design. Modern materials and techniques can vastly improve the 'go' of these bells.

The solution
The 1970 rehang shows that patch and mend will not do in the long run, We wish to create a ring of bells that will ring out in Bushey for the next 100 years or more with little maintenance. We propose to hang the bells in a new frame, mounted on a secure grillage as a foundation. All the fittings will be renewed- wheels, bearings, stays, sliders, clappers, pulleys. In addition the medieval bells with cannons will be mounted in modern cannon retaining headstocks. The bells will also be retuned using modern tuning equipment to improve the quality of sound.

The tenor (the biggest bell) will be recast. This means it will be broken up, melted down and the liquid metal poured into a new mould to form a new bell. The reason for this is because the new bell will be slightly bigger and heavier than the current tenor bell.

How to make a donation
The total cost of this project will be £80,000. We wish to raise this sum by donations from the local community, from the ringing community throughout Hertfordshire and the rest of the country, and by appealing to various charity aimed at preserving our heritage. The ringers of Bushey will be donating £3000.

Some people may wish to make a donation in memory of a loved one, or to mark a special event, for example by sponsoring one or more of the major components listed below:

Tuning a bell £600
Headstocks £1500-2000 per bell
Bearings £320
Clapper £200
Wheel £700
Pulley £100
Stay £70
Slider £70
Runner board £60
Slider pin £40
Crown staple £160
Supporting bolts £30
Removing old clapper fittings and enlarging centre holes. £120
Welding the oldest bell £3300

Or sponsor the new frame: £3000 per bell
Total cost of new frame and foundation beams £24000

For further details, information and Gift Aid Forms please contact:

[email redacted]

[email redacted]

Below are some photos, with a diagram of a bell and its fittings.



  • Anonymous
    • £30 
    • 10 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • £82,975 (Offline)
    • 10 yrs


Marc McDonald

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