The Cromer Bells Project
Cromer's six bells had hung in their fittings virtually unaltered since their installation in 1874. Metal corrosion in the fittings and deteriorating woodwork were beginning to threaten the survival of traditional full circle ringing. The PCC decided to support a project to restore them and, if funds were available, to add two more bells to make a full octave.
Grants from a number of trusts and from town organisations, and the generosity of many who helped with fundraising and gave donations, added up to enable the restoration of the six bells. Sponsors came forward to finance two new bells and so the whole project became possible.
By the end of 2013 we were able to place an order with Whites of Appleton to carry out the work. On a wonderful day in January 2014 a group, including one of the sponsors, watched as two new bells were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. These are now the two lightest bells of the peal.
The work in the tower began with the removal of the bells to Whites' workshop, where new fittings were made and a frame extension was constructed. The bells were tuned in line with our sole medieval bell at the Whitechapel Foundry.
Much work was done by a team of volunteers. We removed rusted fittings, cleaned and preserved wood and fixed sound control in four of the eight 30-foot louvre openings. Clearing rubbish accumulated over many decades was a major task. None of the team will forget the efforts of lowering all this from the top of the tower!
The bells and new fittings returned in June. After many days of work (volunteers again, led by Graham Clifton of Whites) we were able to ring the whole peal for the first time. They sounded wonderful, and it was a very moving moment. Cromer now has a peal of bells that can ring for church and town for another century.
Details of the bells
|Tenor||1874||Mears and Stainbank||F#||11-1-9|
|7th||c1499||Brasyer of Norwich||G#||10-0-4|
|6th||1874||Mears and Stainbank||A#||7-1-20|
|5th||1874||Mears and Stainbank||B||6-1-20|
|4th||1874||Mears and Stainbank||C#||5-1-27|
|3rd||1874||Mears and Stainbank||D#||4-2-11|
The following bells have cast-in inscriptions:
- 7th: MISSUS VERO PIE GABRIEL FERT LETA MARIE
(Now Gabriel being sent bears joyful tidings to Holy Mary)
- 2nd: GIVEN BY DAVID LEEDER IN MEMORY OF MARK AND NORAH LEEDER
- Treble: GIVEN BY JOAN AND GILBERT LARTER IN MEMORY OF TONY BAINES, BELLHANGER OF DISS
In addition we have taken the opportunity to name the older bells to reflect the purposes for which our bells have rung over the centuries and to remember those who ring them. The names can be read on brass plaques attached to the new headstocks:
- Tenor: The Cromer Town Bell - 'Time for All'
- 7th: The Service Bell - 'Calling All'
- 6th: The Cromer Lifeboat Bell
- 5th: The Stranger's Bell - 'Welcome All'
- 4th: The Ringers' Bell - 'We Call Together'
- 3rd: The Cromer Carnival Bell
We are very grateful to all who contributed so generously to the success of the project. They include:
- The donors of the two new bells, Joan and Gilbert Larter and David Leeder
- All those who were responsible for major fund raising events:
- Barbara and Michael Hollis who organised two annual plant sales
- The Yiasimi family who hosted a fundraising dinner and musical performance at the Constantia Cottage Restaurant and those organisations that donated raffle prizes
- Keys Fine Art Auctioneers who ran a valuation day
- Jill Breeze and the Cromer Flower Club
- King Henry's Band
- Mr and Mrs Newton who provided the books for the book sale
- Elizabeth & Howard Rooke (the Coastal Singers & the North Norfolk Concert Band)
- Stephen Richards and the Southrepps Chorale
- Cromer Parochial Church Council, the churchwardens and many individual members of the church family who gave financial support and generous practical help for the project
- Ringers and friends from Norfolk and beyond for practical help and many individual gifts and donations. Particular thanks go to Gilbert Larter and the volunteer work team.
- Graham Clifton, Director and Chief Bellhanger of Whites of Appleton who designed the new installation and led the work with great skill and calmness.
- The following organisations and trusts, that gave grants and donations:
- Cromer Town Council
- Sheringham and Cromer Crab and Lobster Festival
- Cromer Cooperative Supermarket Charity of the Month
- The Allchurches Trust Ltd
- The Garfield Weston Trust
- The Geoffrey Watling Trust
- The John Jarrold Trust
- The Ladies Guild of Change Ringers
- The Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers' Bell Restoration Fund
- The Paul Bassham Trust
- The Pennycress Trust
- The Richard and Anne King Charitable Trust
Most of all the Cromer ringers, ringing friends and families, particularly Maureen Gardiner, who led the successful project with great enthusiasm and determination, who all worked so hard for nearly three years to make this particular dream come true.