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Did you know? : On a clear day you can see the Chilterns from the top of All Saints tower.


  The Bell Chamber

 Bell frameThe bellframe fills the whole of the bell chamber, with a pit for each bell to hang in. In order to distribute the forces on the tower, half of the bells swing east-west and half swing north-south. The picture is looking down on the frame.

In each pit, a bell (orange) hangs from a headstock (blue) with a wheel (grey) attached. The ropes wind opposite ways round the wheels of adjacent pairs of bells, so they swing in opposing directions, which further reduces the lateral force on the tower. See explanation of how a bell works .

The frame is made of pairs of 4"x1" wrought iron bars, a bit like giant Meccano, and is characteristic of those made by Webb & Bennett, who hung the bells in 1903. The bells are normally left mouth down for safety, but for ringing they are swung full circle - mouth up to mouth up. The 'stays' seen sticking up when the bells are down, engage with a slider to enable them to be 'set' in the up position between periods of ringing. See a more detailed description of how a bell works.

There is an additional small bell, hung above the others. This does not have ringing fittings, and can only be chimed by being swung through a small arc. It is used for services when there are no ringers present.

The roof is supported on massive, but rather decayed, and much repaired timbers. The two main beams are carved 1615 and 1702.

The tower openings are fitted with sound control shutters that are open for public ringing and closed for practices, etc. Prior to 1982 when the shutters were installed , the openings had been almost bricked up to reduce the intensity of the sound close to the church. 

Butterflies hibernate in the tower during winter, and often flutter down rather dazed, during ringing. They are reputed to hibernate inside the bells, but we have never seen this, but they can sometimes be seen on the roof beams, as shown below.

The bell chamber door is at frame-top height, with a walkway along the East wall that gives visitors a good view of the whole installation (better than coming in at floor level alongside the frame, for which there isn't space anyway!). The two reflectors visible on the wheel of the far bell (number 3) in the picture of the access walkway, operate a simulator, which is used for training.


Pictures

 See All pictures at once , or click on each one to enlarge.

0Frame.jpg
Webb & Bennett frame
1BellsDownNew.jpg
Bells down
2BellsUpNew.jpg
Bells up
5sanctus.jpg
Service bell
61BeamRepair.jpg
Beam repair
62BeamRepair.jpg
Beam repair
63Beam1615.jpg
Beam with '1615'
64Beam1702.jpg
Beam with '1702
71ShutterOpen.jpg
Shutter open
72ShutterClosed.jpg
Shutter closed
8Butterfly.jpg
Butterfly on roof beam 
91Walkway.jpg
Access walkway 
92Visitors.jpg
Visitors 

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