The tower at St. James’ and St. Basil’s Church has a unique chime of 17 bells. A peal of 8 bells for full circle ringing – rung in the traditional English manner of ropes and wheel and 9 bells which are hung “dead” and do not swing, but are sounded by drawing the clapper across to strike against the inner side of the bell. The l7 bells can be played like a carillon from a clavier (keyboard) in the ringing room. The bells were all cast in 1930 by Mears and Stainbank at the Whitechapel Bell foundry, London; the founders name and date are inscribed on the bells in addition to which the Tenor Bell has the inscription, “we ring in memory of James and Basil Knott. God Knows”. Our tower captain is always happy to show folk around and welcome new members to the ringing team
Here’s a view not many see… The view inside the Bell Tower at St. James’ and St. Basil’s Church Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne
As our Bell Ringers cannot ring at the moment (due to 2020 coronavirus restrictions). the bells have been (almost) silent over the past weeks. We’ve reconnected the clock chime and the Carilion mechanism so that we can now ring all 17 once again. Here’s the 9am chime, with one of our early attempts at chiming a tune, followed by the Angelus! Sorry for the occasional timing issues and wrong note! (May 2020)
There is a ring of 8 bells and also 9 chiming bells, to allow for tune ringing on 17 bells. All were cast by Mears and Stainbank in 1930. They are a fine ring. All were cast with flat heads. The chiming bells are hung above the ring. There is a practice clavier in the ringing chamber.
The bells were not dedicated until June 6th 1931, a fact published in “The Ringing World” of May 29th. The dedication was reported in the edition of July 3rd 1931:
DEDICATION OF NEW CHURCH AND BELLS. RINGING OCTAVE AND CARILLON IN NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE.
On Saturday, June 6th, the recently built Church of SS. James and Basil, Fenham, Newcastle, was dedicated by the Bishop of Newcastle, Dr. Hilbrough. Unfortunately, the inclement weather put a stop to the grand civic and clerical procession arranged to precede the ceremony, but the Bishop dedicated the tower, bells and clock from the outside in a downpour. The church was packed to overflowing as the new bells struck out in rounds while the Bishop and the procession of clergy, etc., moved round to the west porch 10 demand admittance. The bells are a very line, melodious peal of eight, with tenor 14cwt. in F, hung for ringing, with nine other smaller bells fixed to act as a carillon of seventeen bells, complete with clavier. The lightest bell weighs only 2 cwt. 14 lb., and the tenor is inscribed,
‘ We ring in memory of James and Basil Knott.’
Messrs. Mears and Stainbauk, of the Whitchapel Foundry, have almost excelled themselves in producing a thoroughly tuneful peal with workmanlike frames for the ring of eight, the carillon bells having been arranged so that they are heard to the best advantage.
On June 6tn, 1931. the bells were dedicated by the Vicar, the Rev. S. Redman. Unfortunately Mr. Redman was not very enthsiastic about ringing