The Bells of St. Michael the Archangel
The bells were originally a set of three. The three bells were rehung and augmented to eight during 2002 by Eayre and Smith, now part of Taylors Eayre & Smith (http://www.taylorbells.co.uk/) following a successful appeal and fund-raising by bell-ringers, congregation and community raising £60,000 to finance the work. The new set of eight bells was first rung on 19 July 2002. They were dedicated on 6 October 2002 by the Archbishop of York. The original three bells are included in the new ring of eight as bells 6, 7 & 8. The tower dates from 1495.
The three original bells retain their canons and are fitted with specially de-signed canon-retaining headstocks of spheroidal graphite cast iron. The other five bells are fitted with web section headstocks of the same material. All eight bells rotate on self-aligning ball bearings. The strike note of the tenor is 33 cents (33 hundredths of a semitone) sharp of E natural. The bell-frame is of fabricated steel, hot-dip galvanized against corrosion. Previous to the work in 2002, the frame was of wooden construction by Mallerby of Masham and was 150 years old. The new frame was made by Bentleys of Silsden.
Please click here for technical details about the bells
There are several points of interest relating to the bells beyond the bells themselves:
- The bells are referred to in "The Water Babies" (1863): The oldest bell has its place in literary history as Charles Kingsley, who wrote The Water Babies while staying at Tarn House, Malham, mentions its sonorous tone in his famous book: "Under the crag where the ouzel sings, And the ivied wall where the church-bell rings"
- The Virgin's Chime: For the midnight chime of Christmas Eve: "Ascending to the bell-chamber, the ringers on this occasion manipulate the tongues of the bells with their hands. The strokes follow a prescribed order - two strokes on the small bell, one on the middle bell, two on the great bell and, again, one on the middle bell. The order is repeated until the first note of midnight and is resumed for a few minutes after the hour has struck. If, as seems probable, the chime had its origin in pre-reformation days, it may perhaps be inferred that the tower possessed bells from the time of its erection". (Source: The Parish of Kirkby Malhamdale, J W Morkhill, Pub.1933). From the late 1980's, when the custom was restarted, after decades of silence in the tower, the "ringers" sat on the floor and clasped the flight of the clap-per with both hands. They then pulled the clappers towards them in the order given above. Since augmentation they stand under the bells to ring the Virgin's Chimes and still ring the old trio of bells (6th, 7th, and 8th of the new eight).
- Two of the bells are "listed": Bell 6: Cast by William Oldfield, Doncaster 1617 and Bell 8: Cast by William Oldfield (elder) 1602
- In 1992 (before the bells were augmented and rehung and the new frame installed in 2002), during one Sunday's service ringing, one of the original three bells fell from its frame, but fortunately no further!
Supported by: The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Headley Trust, The North Craven Heritage
Trust, The generosity of the people of Malhamdale and beyond.