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The peal boards

  History     Pictures     Restoration   Pre restoration


The first recorded peal (for which we know the names of the ringers) was in 1715 at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich , and is recorded on a decorative pealboard. Pealboards hang in many towers, some very ornate, recording notable performances over the centuries.

The first peal at All Saints was rung in 1903, shortly after the bells were rehung and augmented to eight. It is recorded in the peal book, but there is no pealboard for it. It wasn't rung by a local band.

Three of the pealboards in a similar style record peals rung for the Rector's birthday in 1907, 1910 and 1921. Peals were rung for his birthday in many other years but there are no pealboards for them.

A guilded pealboard records the peal that was rung on the day of Rev FE Robinson's funeral . This pealboard, and the one for the Rector's birthday rung a few weeks earlier, were both at a formal ceremony later that year.

The other pealboards are much younger. One by Linda Moores records the peal rung in 1990 to mark the church's 800th anniversary . Another in a similar style by Maggie Willans records the first peal on the bells after the 2004 restoration .

In 2010, the ringers commissioned a combined peal board  recording four of the performances dedicated to FE Robinson. It is unusual in several respects, being much smaller (A4) and iengraved on metal alloy rather than being painted on wood. It also records four performances rather than one. They were all in memory of Rev FE Robinson . They record: a peal for the 80th anniversary of his death, a quarter peal for the 100th anniversary of when he believed he rang his 1000th peal, and a peal and a quarter peal for the centenary of his death..


To see a larger image click on a thumbnail.

1907 peal for the Rector's birthday
1910 peal for the Rector's birthday
1921 peal for the Rector's birthday
Peal rung on the day of Rev FE Robinson's funeral
Peal for the church's 800th anniversary
First peal on the bells after their restoration in 2004
Four performances remembering Rev FE Robinsion


Following concerns about the condition of one of the early 20th century pealboards they were assessed by a professional restorer in 2015. The main concern was the lettering on the 1910 'Rector's birthday peal' board, which was badly degraded, with much of the paint having chipped off. The guilding lettering on the pealboard for FE Robinson's funeral was also cracked. In addition, all the boards had a layer of accumulated grime. The inspection confirmed that the boards could be restored to near original condition, and recommended that all four boards should be restored since otherwise the non-restored ones would look drab and dirty alongside the restored one.

The restorer declared the boards stable, and so restoration was delayed until after completion of the much bigger project to install a glass screen in the gallery arch , which was completed in 2016.

In the summer of 2017 the boards were restored by MT Molner Convervation of Tilehurst . All the boards were cleaned of superficial dust and then had the greasy top deposits removed with white spirit. they were then thoroughly cleaned with a special non-acid conservation liquid soap.

The damage to the black lettering was restored using an oil based polyurethane laqueur, which has the correct 'body' to replicate the original work.

The gold lettering was restored using an acrylic liquid metal gold paint ('Classic Gold' shade) which doesn't tarnish.The lettering was completely over painted, since just covering the separations didn't give a satisfactory result.

The boards were varnished with a water based Ronseal varnish (also applied to the backs)and given a sprayed Shellac coating to protect the lettering.

Pictures of various intermediate stages in the work are below. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger image.

Cleaning in progress on 1921 pealboard
Cleaning in progress on 1921 pealboard
Part cleaned pealboard
The 1910 pealboard before restoration
Close up of deteriorated lettering
Overpainting in progress
Overpainting in progress

Before restoration

1910 peal in memory of FE Robinson (before restoration)
1907 peal for the Rector's birthday (before restoration)
1910 peal for the Rector's birthday (before restoration)
1921 peal for the Rector's birthday (before restoration)

Updated 15-12-2023

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