Church Bells

There are currently eight bells in Darfield Tower in addition to the ‘calling’ bell. The bells are of differing ages and origins:

Bell number 1 Note E. Diameter 27.25 inches. Weight 4cwts. 3qrs. 2lbs. This bell was cast in 1979 by the Dutch firm of Eiisbouts and hung in the same year by Eayre and Smith Ltd, when the old ring of six bells was augmented to eight. It was paid for by a donation from a member of the Parish, Mr Bryan of Doncaster Road, in memory of his wife, Sarah. It cost £12,000. Sarah Bryan was born in 1903 and died in 1978. Both this bell and number 2 bell have a frieze of children playing around them. This is because they were cast in ‘the year of the child’. The inscriptions on this bell are: Eiisbouts Astensis Me Feut Anno MCMLXXIX Gloria in Excelsis Deo Sarah Bryan 1903 – 1978 .

Bell number 2 Note D sharp. Diameter 28.25 inches. Weight 5cwts. 0qrs. 15lbs. Number 2 bell was purchased at the same time as number one. It, also, was hung by Eayre and Smith in 1979 but the history of its casting is different. It was originally cast in 1874 by John Taylor’s Foundry in Loughborough and hung in the tower of All Saints Church, Moss. When the church at Moss closed and was made redundant, the members of that church kindly allowed Darfield to take the bell and have it recast to fit in with the new ring of eight. Several ringers from darfield at the time, under the leadership of Tower Captain Mike King, spent a hair-raising day removing the bell from Moss and bringing it back to Darfield in 1978. It was then recast by Eiisbouts of Holland. The inscriptions on this bell are: Eiisbouts Astensis Me Feut Anno MCMLXXIX Spes Tutissima Coelis John Taylor 1874. Recast 1979. FROM ALL SAINTS MOSS TO ALL SAINTS DARFIELD.

Bell Number 3 Note C sharp. Diameter 31 inches. Weight 5cwts. 3qrs. 0lbs. For many years this was the treble bell of the old ring of six. It was cast in 1780 by a local bell founder, T Hilton. Thomas Hilton was a bell founder in Wath-upon-Dearne from 1774 to 1808. He cast bells for many churches around the area. The inscription on this bell reads: T Hilton Wath 1780 And painted on the neck of the bell is: Randolph Marriott, Rector, W Loxley, T Wright, W Ellen, M Bedford, I Robinson, J Barber +wardens. (Randolph Marriott was Rector at Darfield from 1732 to 1782. He rebuilt the vicarage – see his epitaph in ‘Hunter, ii, 116’.)

Bell number 4 Note B. Diameter 32.5 inches. Weight 5cwts. 3qrs. 18lbs. This bell is dated 1675. It was cast by Samuel Smith Snr of York who cast many bells in the area. For further details see the pages on the bell founders. The bell bears Samuel Smith’s mark, ‘SS Ebor’ in the inscription around the neck of the bell. The Rev. H Cooke’s collection states that ‘this bell is always and for ages probably has been the bell announcing the minister’s entrance into the Church’. There were three Rev H Cookes at Darfield from 1796 to 1892 and it is not clear which of them is the above mentioned H Cooke. The inscription reads: Venite Exultemus Domino 1675 RW. EW. IC. +wardens. This translates as “Come, let us praise the Lord”.

Bell number 5 Note A. Diameter 35.25 inches. Weight 7cwts. 1qr. 0lbs. Both this bell and the sixth have no mark of their date of casting but they are known to be the oldest two bells in the tower. They are thought to date from before the Reformation, probably from the 1400’s or early 1500’s. It is said that they were originally hung in Beauchief Abbey, near Sheffield. An old newspaper cutting says that the story is that they were stolen from the Abbey and that, to avoid detection, the horses’ shoes were removed when the bells were taken away. It is not known where the story comes from or indeed how much faith can be attached to the entire supposition that the bells came from Beauchief Abbey at all. This bell has the inscription: Ut Campana Bene Sonet Antonius Monet. Roughly translated this means ‘Anthony desires that the bell should sound well’.

Bell number 6 Note G sharp. Diameter 38 inches. Weight 9cwts. 1qr. 26lbs. This bell is thought to be of the same date and origin as bell number 5. The inscriptions on bells 5 and 6 have similar ornate capital letters to the inscription on one of the bells at Cawthorne church. This bell has the inscription: In Multis Annis Resonet Campana Johis Very roughly translated this would seem to mean ‘The bell of John sounds out for many years’.

Bell number 7 Note F sharp. Diameter 43.25 inches. Weight 12cwts. 0qrs. 14lbs. This bell was cast in 1750 by J Ludlam and A Walker of Rotherham. Joseph Ludlam had a foundry near to the Grammar School in Rotherham. He cast some bells alone and some with Walker. A Walker appears to have cast bells either in partnership with J Ludlam or with T Hilton (of whom we have more details later). It has the inscription: W:Day : I:Scales : T:Slack : I:Stephenson : I:Preston : I:Burkes : I:Storer Churchwardens 1750 I:Ludalm : A:Walker Founders.

Bell number 8 Note E. Diameter 46 inches. Weight 13cwts. 3qrs. 24lbs. Cast in 1613, this bell was always thought to weigh around a ton and is noted as such on peal boards and in other records. As it actually weighs just less than three quarters of a ton, it must have either had its weight over-estimated or perhaps have been altered in some way. No details are held of who cast it or who paid for it. Several bell founders were casting bells in the West Riding of Yorkshire at this date, but this bell does not carry the mark of any known bell founder. There are three other bells in the West Riding with a very similar inscription but they were all cast after this bell. The inscription reads: All men that heare my mournful sound repent before you lye in ground. 1613.