We need to replace the bells and ringing chamber in the West Tower of the church as otherwise there is a real danger of bell collapse and possible injury.
The Tower, clearly visible across the fields around Hawton, was erected in 1482 and contains four bells in minor key, but these are currently unringable. The ancient oak bell-frame also urgently
needs repair and conservation. It is reported that our bells have not been pealed or rung in rounds for over 50 years (although one bell is still chimed as a Sanctus bell). The 50 year wait was ended on 29th January, 2018, when on the morning
of the funeral of one of our most esteemed bell-ringers, Harry Harrington, when the four bells were hit with hammers and sounded again. The sound - not particularly euphonious, can be heard in the video above.
floor and fate of existing bells
The bell ringing floor has become unsafe and is currently closed. All our bells are the product of Nottingham bell founders, the listed second bell by Richard Mellors of
1482, coeval with the tower, and the remainder cast by George Oldfield: the tenor is of 1624 and the treble and third bell are both dated 1655 (during the Commonwealth period). The oak bell-frame dates from the 17th
century with fittings, possibly early 20th century, by Whites of Appleton.
The phases of restoration
The restoration of the Tower and Bells is both extensive and complex and will be phased as follows -
1 - Ground Floor – Erect scaffolding, repair defective masonry, replace defective timber beam, re-board unsafe intermediate floor, remove scaffolding.
Phase 2 – Ground Floor – Provide new oak and glass ringing
gallery with access from tower stairway.
Phase 3 – Belfry Level - Repair defective masonry, replace louvres, make watertight, apply preservative to existing timber bell-frame.
Phase 4 – All Levels –
Repair remaining defective masonry, complete outstanding joinery, re-wire, up-grade and extend tower electrics,
Phase 5 – Intermediate Floor (High Level) - Provide new galvanised steel bell-frame, rehang with all new fittings
three of the existing bells plus five additional bells, two being newly cast by Taylors of Loughborough. Rehang the existing treble bell for use as a Sanctus bell.
The estimated costs of this project are around
£200,000 of which we have, by June, 2018, raised £68,000. An application was also made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the main part of the funding. You will note from the latest news at the beginning of this page that a grant of £85,700
has now been obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the work on the project can now start immediately. With savings made on volunteer labour for the project we now feel that every part of the project can be achieved with an additional £9,000 of
funding, so grant initiatives and fund-raising events are still needed. We are still dependent on offers of co-operation from several organisations, with building work free of charge from Newark Technical College, materials from Carters engineering firm and
storage and transport from the local firm Pykett Brothers in Hawton village. Local building firms are being engaged to do the work. Much of the money raised thus far has been donated by local people and members of the congregation, and we
are now asking you to let us know how and in what way you might be able to support this important project.
The timescale deadline for completion of the restoration and new bell installation is 30th April, 2019. Please help us to
The first new bell
On 14th December the first bell, the Lawrence Bell, was cast at John Taylor's Bell Foundry in Loughborough (see photograph). By kind permission of the Foundry, 33 people travelled from Hawton and
Farndon to witness the casting and have a conducted tour of the Foundry by George Dawson. The Bell was donated by Charles Lawrence in memory of his parents. A peroration was read by David Britton after the casting of the Lawrence Bell. This was a highly evocative
and moving occasion and all who attended will retain the memory of this event. It was filmed in full by Derek Smith as part of the history of Hawton Church through the ages. Derek will also be continuing his filming of all the events linked to the church as
part of the Heritage Lottery grant plan, but his filming is very inconspicuous so hope it will not trouble anybody. Occasions such as weddings and special events may also be filmed.
We will be putting forward the final film to national exhibitions as
we are so pleased with its high quality and interest level.
The casting of the Lawrence bell can be seen in the video above. The molten bell-metal is poured into a cast buried in sand. The final bell can be seen in the subsequent still photographs.
The second new bell
This will be cast at John Taylor's Bell Foundry on 14th June, 2018 The occasion will again be filmed, so keep watching, and look at the events page of this web-site.