SEAL CHURCH BELLS
Bellringing is an old craft that has been practised in churches throughout the UK for centuries, and the sound of church bells provides lasting pleasure to many (and frustration for a few)! It is estimated that there are 40,000 bells in the UK, but only 30,000 ringers. Change ringing, to differentiate from hand bell ringing, involves pulling on ropes that are connected to wheels and thence to the bells in the belfry. A sense of rhythm and timing is more important than strength! New bellringers are always welcome - why not give it a try. Contact Paul Thompson (01732 452380) for more details.
About our bells
Although the church dates from the 13th century, the oldest bells that can be dated with certainty are the second and third, both of which are dated 1660. The fifth may be older, as it is dedicated to William Burford of Algate 1371-1392. This bell was recast in 1957, and the original crown is still in the possession of the church, though it is now locked away after miscreants tried (and failed!) to steal it for scrap metal a few years ago. Their getaway vehicle of choice was an old wheelchair, which buckled under the weight of the bell, and so, fortunately, had to be abandoned, bell and all! The sixth bell was recast by John Warner of London in 1886 from a bell originally cast in 1609. It has been suggested that this bell might have been added to the five bells the church already had around 1886, since the village pub is called the Five Bells, while the newer house opposite it is called Six Bells Cottage, though there is no proof of this. The bells vary in weight from the treble at 4 1/4 cwt to the tenor at 10/ 1/4 cwt, and are in G. Compare these with the heaviest ringable bell in the UK at 84cwt, in Liverpool Cathedral, while Big Ben weighs 13 1/2 tons!
Ringing originally took place in Seal just below the belfry, where the clock is now and the coat hooks for the ringers jackets are still in place. When the clock was installed the ringing chamber was moved to the ground floor, which resulted in one of the longest draughts in the diocese at approximately 60feet. This makes ringing at Seal more challenging than most towers, and Seal is therefore renowned (or notorious) as a tower for ambitious ringers.