St Wilfrid's Church

Bell Ringers



Morning : 09:30 - 10:00


Wednesday : 19:30 - 21:00

Note : May start at 19:00 if bell handling being taught




By previous permission of the Tower Master and Incumbent only


Mike Thomson (Tower Master) 07710 763603


. . or . .

Nick Thomson (Ringing Master) 01925 602437 (


Help us keep an ancient tradition and art alive and well by joining our mixed group of people who enjoy ringing. We are always looking for new members to ensure we have sufficient numbers to keep the bells ringing as they have done for over 300 years.

Age : 9+;

Gender : any;

Experience : none

Being able to ride a bike or catch a ball gives the right

co-ordination skills.

Come and see us on any Wednesday night or contact us as above.


Visitors to the tower are always very welcome, ringers or non ringers. Come and see what happens when the bells ring out. Please contact us as above to arrange a suitable time.


We are a mixed group of people of different age groups (but probably tending to the higher age groups) and belong to the

Chester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (CDG), being part of CDG’s Mid Cheshire Branch.

We usually enter the Mid Cheshire Branch 6 Bell Striking Competition for Sunday Service bands and have had some success of late, winning on numerous occasions. This means that our band go forward to the CDG final representing Mid Cheshire Branch and ring against bands from towers representing the other four Guild Branches (Chester, East Cheshire, South Cheshire and Wirral).

Bellringers Team

The Grappenhall band at Hoole (l-r) :

Alison Collins, David Pigg, Liz Helliwell, Ray Helliwell, Nick Thomson and Mike Thomson


Bellringers Tophy Shelf

Our ‘Trophy’ Shelf

at left is the Ken Lewis Plate for the inter Branch 8 Bell Striking Competition

and at right if Benny’s Box for the inter Tower 6 Bell Striking Competition.


After successfully raising the money we now have a new ring of 10 bells cast and a new bellframe installed.  Our oldest and most historic bells will be retained and new technology will enable us to improve our teaching and our visitor experience. 

History of the Grappenhall Bells

The earliest bells in our tower date back to 1700, being cast as a ring as 5 Bells by Henry Bagley II who was based at Ecton in Northamptonshire, the only Bagley bells in Cheshire. In 1718 an additional smaller (treble) bell was cast by Sanders of Bromsgrove to make a ring of 6 Bells. The ring remained like this until 1890, when the 1718 bell must have proved unsatisfactory and was recast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough. A new bell frame was provided at this time.

In 1899, the bells were augmented to a ring of 8 Bells, unusually with the addition of a Treble and a Tenor Bell (smallest and largest) which meant that, to maintain musical correctness, the old 4th Bell (cast by Henry Bagley) had to be recast to make the new 5th Bell. These new bells were cast by Mears and Stainbank who were based at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London’s east end. The bell frame was extended to hold the two additional bells.

Some work was done in 1929 by John Taylor & Co to strengthen the bell frame where the original frame and 1899 extension met. A major rehang was done in 1966 when new fittings were provided for all the bells (new cast iron headstocks, wheels, sliders and pulley blocks) but the bell frame was not touched.

By the early 2000s it became obvious that some major work would have to be done.  The ringers were given permission by the PCC to do some low-key fund raising, mainly from donations at the weekly practice and ringers’ wedding fees donated back to the fund.  The Bell Project was launched during morning service on the 14th May 2017, and afterwards in the Parish centre. A brand new ring of 10 bells was to be provided, together with a new frame.  Four of the old ring, the 1700 Bagley bells, were to be kept, due to their historical importance, but would be hung separately from the new ring. The church clock was to be relocated from the ringing room up to the belfry, above the bells, and encased to protect it.  By the launch date, the ringers had raised almost £24,000.  Fund raising now started in earnest, with a special leaflet being distributed throughout the parish.

Various grants were applied for, several of which were successful: Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council, Church Care, Garfield Weston and Viridor Credits.  Grants were also provided by some bell ringing bodies:  the Chester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, the Mid Cheshire Branch of the Guild separately, and the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.  Several individuals made donations to sponsor an individual bell, as did the Grappenhall PCC.

The order was placed in 2018 and the old bells were rung for the last time in January 2019. The final peal on the old bells, the first since 1987, was rung on 30th December 2018, being 5152 changes of Yorkshire Surprise Major in 2 hours 48 minutes. The final quarter peal was rung on Saturday 5th January, 1250 Cambridge Surprise Major, by a local band. The final service ringing was the following day, 6th January, the last touch being a 256 of Spliced Surprise Major in 8 methods, again by a local band.

The bells were cast in the first three months of 2019 in three sessions, and trips to the John Taylor foundry in Loughborough were arranged for each, with many non-ringing parishioners visiting the foundry to see the age old process of casting the bells. During the final visit, there were enough ringers to be able to ring the foundry’s own bells, a ring of 12 bells.

After the final ring on the old bells, work started to remove the old bells and the old frame, which, we discovered, was riddled with woodworm.  The belfry floor and ringing room ceiling were also to be replaced, so they too were removed. Scaffolding was erected to the rear of the tower, and an electric hoist assisted the bell hanger and the volunteer labour, which came not only from ringers, but also from members of the congregation. The old bells were on display in church for a short time, although their appearance, covered in pigeon dropping, was not the best!

Eventually, the new frame arrived and was fixed into place.  Then on the 5th July 2019, the new bells arrived in the village and were taken into church to be put on display and blessed by our Rector, the Reverend Jane Proudfoot, who had been an ardent supporter of our Project since her arrival in Grappenhall. There were many visitors who came to see the bells in all their glory in church before they disappeared up the tower.  Visits were arranged for the school children to come and see this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The bells were hoisted into place and our bell hanger, Andrew Ogden, did a great job of making sure they were ready for ringing.   An initial try-out was held on Tuesday 6th August, when the front 6 bells were rung together for the first time. There was a full try-out the following evening, our first Wednesday practice since January. The feeling was that we had a superb new ring of 10 bells.  The dedication of the bells took place on 15th September, the service being led by Reverend Jane. The church was full of ringers from far and wide and non-ringers, together with representatives from Taylor’s bell foundry.  After some general ringing, and refreshments in the Parish Centre, the local band rang the first quarter peal on the new bells, Plain Bob Royal.



Powered by Church Edit