|Photograph from the Bowell archives
|All Saints' Church Bells
(The old ring of five bells pre-2006)
Two of the bells are mediaeval. They were cast
in London by a founder named William Culverden in about 1520.
In 1603 the tenor bell was added or - more likely - recast.. By
1700 when Richard Chandler cast the former treble bell there were
four bells in the tower. The four bells were rehung in the newly
rebuilt tower in 1894, A further rehanging took place in 1925.
At that time, a fifth bell was added to the ring and the old treble
- described as "of very poor workmanship and bad tone" - was recast.
The bellframe was erected at the time of the
rebuilding of the tower in 1893-4 and remodelled and extended
when the bells were rehung in 1925. Although of solid construction
the bellframe is made of softwood. As erected in 1893-4 the frame
was originally on two levels with three bells (apparently bells
2, 3 and 4 of the ring of four) in parallel pits in the lower
frame and another (the treble) in a pit above. All four bells
were hung to swing east-west. In 1925 the upper pit of the original
frame was removed and Bowell repositioned the three largest bells
to the west of the lower frame in order to give room to erect
additional framework for the two trebles.
The tower stands at the west end of the south
aisle. Originally built in the C15th it was found to be badly
cracked and in it was completely rebuilt in 1893 during the course
of the restoration of the church under the architect Arthur Wellesley
Soames. It was reported in October 1893 that the tower restoration
was nearly completed (Beds. Mercury 28 Oct.1893). There are date-stones
of 1893 at the south-west angle of the present tower, which is
of similar scale and style to the one it replaced. The new tower,
however, has freestone dressings at the angles, in the windows,
and on the parapet.
The above are extracts from notes by Chris Pickford FSA
Shefford, Bedfordshire, UK (map)