The Bells

The current ring of 12 bells (tenor 34-0-8 in C # with a flat 6th to give a light octave) was cast in 1970 by the Whitechapel Bellfoundry. In 2017 we added a new sharp treble bell (5-2-8 in A #) which was one of the very last to be cast in Whitechapel before the foundry closed. This was installed by White’s of Appleton, and extends the middle 8 to a delightful light 10 (tenor 14-0-14) and front 6 which are easy to ring and are proving their worth with learners and experienced ringers alike.

Bell Weight Nominal Note Diameter Dated Founder Canons Turning
1 5-1-21 1666.5 G# 27.00″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
2 5-2-22 1484.5 F# 28.00″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
3 5-3-12 1398.0 E# 29.00″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
4 6-1-26 1245.5 D# 30.63″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
5 6-3-22 1107.5 C# 32.50″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
6 7-3-2 1048.5 B# 33.50″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
7 8-3-21 932.0 A# 35.50″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
8 10-2-7 831.5 G# 38.50″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
9 14-0-14 741.5 F# 42.00″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
10 17-2-27 695.0 E# 45.50″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
11 24-0-8 618.5 D# 51.00″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
12 34-0-7 553.0 C# 57.38″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
0extra 5-2-8 1872.5 A# 25.25″ 2017 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
6b 8-1-3 988.5 B 34.50″ 1970 Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd F N
Unused 17.50″ 1589† Godfrey Heathcote Y

Historical perspectives

The Parish Church of St Peter, Sheffield – since 1913 the Cathedral Church of SS Peter and Paul – is one of the oldest centres of change-ringing in Yorkshire and the Sheffield Cathedral Company of Ringers has existed since at least 1745. The original medieval ring appears to have been of four bells but a ring of six was in place as early as 1689. In 1745 this was replaced by a new ring of eight, cast by Daniel Hedderly, who operated from foundries in Bawtry and Derby and is believed to have cast the tenor (33cwt) in a barn at the east end of the churchyard. The ring of eight was augmented to ten in 1798 and to twelve in 1868. By the end of the 1960s the bells were becoming increasingly difficult to ring and it was decided to have them rehung on a steel frame. When the work commenced in 1968, several bells were found to be cracked and recasting was clearly needed, the installation of the new bells took place in 1970, hung in a cast-iron H frame with cast-iron headstocks and ball-bearings (in contrast with the old bells which were hung in a wooden frame on plain bearings).

!n 1979 an arsonist got into the tower and on the evening of Monday 17th July set fire to the carpet in the ringing-room. The ringing chamber was largely gutted but fortunately the bells were not affected (although a set of handbells was severely damaged). The cupboard containing the Charles Henry Hattersley Library was badly charred and had to be replaced, but the books it contained had all survived intact. Sadly some very historic peal boards were lost at this time, and the entire contents and furnishings in the ringing chamber had to be replaced. Ringing continued in the blackened ringing chamber using borrowed ropes. A photo of the ringing chamber in this blackened state can be viewed on the display stand – see if you can spot the three ringers in the photo who rang for the Sheffield band today!

St. Peter’s has long had an experienced change-ringing band, in his ‘The History and Art of Change Ringing’, Ernest Morris writes “There have been periods in the history of ringing when the men of Sheffield took front rank and at the dawn of the nineteenth century they were unquestionably of no mean skill.” There is a long and rich history of peal ringing in the tower. The first peal rung in Sheffield Parish Church was on 15 April 1754, rung by the Sheffield Society of Ringers. They rang peals of Stedman and Grandsire Caters and of Treble Bob Royal around that time and also took part in major ringing events throughout the North of England. One of their feats was to ring 6048 Cambridge Surprise Major in 4 hrs and 18 mins, in 1787: unfortunately, the composition was false and their claim to have rung the first in the method was not upheld. At that time there were so many ringers that the tower supported two societies, St. Peter’s Youths and St. Peter’s Independant Youths, between which there was much rivalry.