The Christmas trees in Edmonton and Hollesley
Hollesley on 23 December
A rather shy Lucy
On the way from Hollesley to Purley, we stopped off to look at the infamous
bells at East Bergholt. Here Lucy inspects the structure that houses the bells
in the churchyard.
Normal English church bells are pulled by ropes. Being at ground level, this
is not possible for these bells, so they are swung round by hand - very
hazardous! The bell cage houses five bells. When they are not being rung they
are left with the bell upright due to the effort needed to get them into this
position as they are not counterbalanced.
The building of a bell tower was started in 1525 with assistance promised by
Cardinal Wolsey, but his downfall cut short any help and the work ceased in
1530. The Bell Cage was erected as a temporary measure in 1531 and the bells
have been in regular use ever since and are still rung at these times to this
Although other bell cages exist, the one in East Bergholt is
the only place where the bells are swung by pure force of hand applied directly
to a wooden headstock and not by rope and wheel.
What makes this more remarkable is that they are the heaviest
set of five bells that are currently being rung in England, with a total weight
of 4.25 tons or 4,400 kilos.
Originally the bell cage was said to have stood in the east part of the
churchyard until the 17th century, when it was moved to its present location on
the wish and at the expense of Mr. Joseph Chaplin, because of the noise of the
bells was disliked by the family at Old Hall.
The bells were removed from the cage in 1972 to enable
restoration work to be carried out and rehung, this time on ball bearings, in
The bells are mounted in a wooden frame inside the cage. The square bell
frame, built from massive oak timbers, is built on a small brick plinth. Overall
it is about 6ft (1.8m) high with a narrow walkway about half way up. The ringers
stand on this narrow board and lean over the frame to ring the bells.
Swinging such massive pieces of metal and maintaining the
precise timing needed to keep the ringing sequence takes a great deal of
practice. It takes two years for somebody to learn to ring these unique bells
and become a fully fledged member of the band.
The end of the church, where the bell tower was to have been before funds
Lucy and her Grandpa
Lucy and her cousin Jan with husband Simon, Elizabeth, Tom (Lucy's godson) and
Reuben, at their house in Ham, south-west London.