We hold very little information about St John’s bells and we cannot presently visit the bell room as it is difficult and dangerous to access. It hasn’t been visited for a number of years.

We have eight bells, fixed in a wooden frame. They are, with the exception of the Sanctus bell, electronically operated. The following information about the bells is listed in the Terrier & Inventory – also known as the Church Property Register:

The St. John’s bells originally hung in what is now the ruined north-west tower. The northeast corner of the tower collapsed on Good Friday 1881. This was probably due to a combination of neglect, and damage caused during the English Civil Wars when the Parliamentary forces placed canon on top of the tower to fire over the city walls. The bells were rescued, at significant risk to life and limb, from the collapsed tower and stored. A faculty was granted on the 28th January 1886 ‘to erect a belfry on the site of the vestry, forming a new vestry on the ground floor of the belfry,’ and the bells were installed in it.

Re-Hanging St. John’s Bells

Raymond Richards writing in Old Cheshire Churches writes, ‘The bells recently rehung, were all cast in the early eighteenth century by the Rudhalls of Gloucester. They are inscribed with the bell founders usual lines, one in particular being notably lengthy, recording:- Jas Crewe, Sir Robert Grosvenor, Bart., Sir Charles Bunbury, Bart., William Watkins Wynn, Esq., Gabl Wettenhull, Esq., Jas Comberbach, Alderman, Churchwardens, 1733.’ This description includes an additional name; Jas Comberbach, and confirms that he and Gabl Wettenhull were churchwardens, and that the bell was cast in 1733. A board in St John’s inner porch listing the churchwardens from 1635 to 1762 confirms that Gabl Wettenhull and Jas Comberbach were the churchwardens in 1733.

Rudhall’s of Gloucester was a family business of bell-founders, spanning four generations from 1684 to 1815. In that year the business was declared bankrupt. The founder, Abraham Ruddall, developed a new method of tuning bells by turning them on a lathe in place of the traditional method of chipping them with a chisel. The business was later bought by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

I am indebted to Wikipedia for the information regarding Rudhall’s of Gloucester.

Simon Oliver – Churchwarden