The bells of St Faith’s have been silent since 1950 – so time and neglect have left them in a perilous state. The oldest one dating from 1350 was founded by Rudhall of Gloucester, and has been listed by the Church Buildings Council as being of historic interest and worthy of preservation. The other three date from the 17th c. 1639 / 1650 / 1654 – all founded by John Finch (Hereford) around the Civil War period.
Even when the tower was restored at the time of the 1889 church rebuild, it was pointed out that they were in need of repair and preservation, but nothing was done.
In the 1950s, the tower was considered unsafe, and so, with advice from architect Mr. Booth, it was decided to remove the top storey of the tower and lower it by 34 feet. reducing the weight by around 500 tons. All bell fittings were removed. The bells were placed where they are now – on a wooden frame in the former ringing room, where they can only be chimed.
Expert advice has been sought, and it has been stressed that there is a danger that, at any time, each of the four bells could crack and that they must not be chimed especially since they are set up for ‘clocking’ – now an outlawed practice. Consequently, we have been strongly advised that the bells are unsafe and should not be left in their present state.
So we do not have an option to leave the bells as they are. There is rusting of the cast-iron crown staples which can lead to cracking of the bells. The bells also rock sideways due to the wooden headstocks being in poor condition. Two bells, in particular, are very loose.
Grant funding is not available just for repairs, so, the decision has been made to seek funding to restore the four, and augment them to a full peal of six bells suitable for full change ringing.
The project will involve:
- Removal of the existing bell frame
- Construction of a ring beam and new bell chamber floor
- Installation of a new bell frame
- Restoration of the four existing bells
- Acquisition of two more bells
- Hanging the bells in the new bell frame
- Forming openings in the tower roof
- Refurbishment of the ringing chamber
- Re-wiring the ringing chamber and bell chamber
- Installation of a lightning conductor
- Installation of a handrail to the tower staircase
- Interpretative displays
- CCTV installation