Cuckfield Bell Ringers

For hundreds of years church bells have been ringing out over Cuckfield village marking many memorable occasions and events. Housed in the church steeple, the eight bells cast in bell metal are an impressive sight, but equally impressive are the team of dedicated ringers, who bring the mighty bells to life. Claire Cooper visited the Church to find out about the history of the bells and meet some of the volunteers who are keeping this British tradition alive.

A board in the bell tower commemorates the donors – including some families with descendants still living in the village today.
     “The casting of the bells was undertaken by Mr J. Mears Bell Foundry of London which still exists under the name of The Whitechapel Bell Foundry,” said David. “This is the same foundry that cast Big Ben.” A new frame made of oak to mount the bells was also installed.
     “Everything was completed in time for the new peel to be rung on 4th September 1815 and was no doubt a significant event and achievement for the parishioners,” David added.
     Since then no major work has been necessary, however on 1st May 1980, fire broke out in the spire.
     “The spire was completely destroyed but, due to the skill of the fire fighters, the bells survived although some of the wooden fittings were damaged.

Full article available on pages 16/17.

By Claire Cooper
This year sees the 200th anniversary of the bells in the tower of Holy Trinity Church in Cuckfield. Originally there were six bells dating from 1633 but in 1815 they were re-cast and two more added to give the set that still ring out today. “The original bells were probably cast in the church yard by itinerant bell founders who were paid according to the weight of the bells,” said Tower Captain David Wilson.
     “As the cost was based on weight and there was no way of checking it, I suspect it may have been quite profitable for them if they decided to cheat!”
     The new bells however were weighed – the lightest coming in at 5 hundredweight (250 kilos) and the heaviest 15 hundredweight (750 kilos), about the same as small car. 
     The cost of the work was met by public subscription with 63 villagers and benefactors contributing £297 - 4 shillings. The two highest donations were 23 guineas (£24.15p) and the two smallest were 10 shillings (50p).