The mighty tower of All Saints with its impressively large bell louvres (often commented as the largest seen than at any other similar church) is currently home to a peal of 6 bells with the tenor weighing just over 8cwt. The oldest three bells date back to 1623 whilst the treble was cast in 2000 giving the bells a combined age of 1611 years.
Due to the bells weight and easiness to ring, they are fantastic bells to be taught to ring on. The friendly team are also always there for encouragement.
In 2018, the ringers launched the Centenary Memorial Bell Appeal which will see two lighter trebles added to augment the tower to a ring of 8
The Bells of All Saints Swanton Morley
To view a larger verson please click the image above.
The History of the Bells at All Saints
In 1623 John Draper, a foundry in Thetford, cast four bells to replace the ones taken during visitation. In 1730 a fifth bell was added by Thomas Newman.
By the turn of the twentieth the bell installation was in a poor condition , when Day of Eye stripped out the old bell frame and fittings replacing it with its current oak frame with a sixth pit for another bell to be added at a later date. The frame was also arranged so that the ring could be made up to eight in the future.
In the 1980’s one of John Draper’s bells developed a dangerous crack and was replaced by a redundant bell from St Mary’s Erpingham in 1990, this is why our fourth bell is heavier than our fifth bell. To remove the bell from the tower a cage was built around the old bell and was lowered onto a tractor trailer which was waiting inside the church under the tower. The replacement bell was collected, transported and hoisted into position by the same group of people.
Before the restoration the bells had become difficult to handle and sounded in poor tune. The fittings too had been patched up to allow very occasional ringing at the tower, however there was no local band.
In 1997 The Friends of All Saints Church donated money to have the bell tower cleaned and secured against birds entering the bell tower’s lights so in 1999 it was decided that there was enough money to fund the refurbishment of the 5 bells.
Late 1999 it was felt that there was enough funds to add the sixth bell to fill the empty bell pit as it was likely be the last opportunity for this generation to do so and made sense to have the new treble retuned with the older bells after their refurbishment. The five older bells were taken away by John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough and were retuned. The tower itself was cleared and the wooden frame treated as well as a complete refurbishment of the ringing chamber and the addition of sound proof ceiling in the ringing chamber which would also act as a rope guide as the drop was very long. Many local people generously gave time and money towards the project including personnel from Robertson Barracks who assisted in collecting the bells and transporting them to Loughborough and the returning them to the church. The bells were rededicated by the Rt. Rev. Tony Foottit, Bishop of Lynn in August 2000.
In 2008, it was felt by the ringers that, the bell frame along with all the other wood in the tower should be treated to protect it from woodworm and fungus as well as all the metal work being repainted to stop any rust forming. The task of fund raising was started and in 2009 the work could be carried out. The bell chamber was cleaned again and all metal work repainted to protect it from rust by a small team during Holy Week. Then during the Easter weekend all of the wood in the tower was treated, carried out for free by one of the ringers.
October 2018, the Swanton Morley Bell Ringers launched their Centenary Memorial Bell Appeal. The appeal was to have two new lighter treble bells added to the current ring of six, therefore creating a ring of eight. One of these new bells will become the “Centenary Memorial Bell”. One half of the bell will bear inscriptions to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War, whilst the other half will bear inscriptions to commemorate the centenary of the formation of the RAF.