The Bell Cage
Work on the Bell Tower of St Mary The Virgin Church began in 1525 with the assistance of Cardinal Wolsey, however with his downfall cut short, all work ceased in 1530 and the Bell Cage was erected as a temporary measure in 1531.
The Bell Cage originally stood to the east side of the Church, however Joseph Chaplin, Lord of the Manor at Old Hall in the early 1700’s had plans to build a new house on the Old Hall Estate closer to the Church, so arrange for the removal of the church bell cage at his own expense to its present location.
Whilst the cage is certainly not unique, the method of ringing the bells by hand is. As the bells are not counter balanced, they are swung by pure force of hand applied directly to a wooden headstock and not by a rope and wheel.
The bells, mounted in a wooden frame inside the cage. The square bell frame built from massive oak timbers is built on a small brick plinth, overall about 1.8m high with a narrow walkway about half way up. The ringers stand on this narrow board and lean over the frame to ring the bells.
What makes this even more remarkable is that they are the heaviest set of five bells currently rung in England, a total weight of 4.25 tonnes, or 4,318 kilos.
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