Restoration work on the 10 Bells in the Priory Tower has begun. The ringing of the bells will not be affected for the present, but they will fall silent for two weeks after Remembrance Sunday.
The Bells often referred to as one of ‘the best rings in Christendom’ are rung regularly every Sunday morning and at other major occasions.
At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536-39, the parishioners bought the four bells, weighing a total of 45.5 cwt, which hung in the Priory Church.
The tenor was recast in 1603 and the 3rd recast in 1666, by the Purdues of Bristol. The treble was recast in1706 by Abraham Rudall.
The bells were augmented to five in 1835 and then to six in 1845 by Jeffries & Price of Bristol. To commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887, the bells were rehung and augmented to eight by Llewellins & James of Bristol, the same firm recasting the tenor (19 cwt) in 1893.
Finally, in 1947, these bells were replaced by the present magnificent 10 from the Loughborough foundry, in thanksgiving for the end of the Second World War. They are considered to be the finest ring of 10 bells in Christendom and bell-ringers from all over the country come to ring the changes.
The medieval 6th of the old ring, dated 1308, is preserved in the nave and inscribed ‘May the bell of John last many years’ – perhaps indicated that this was one of a peal of bells donated by John de Hastings, the man responsible for the first restoration of the Priory Church.