For this church:
Coddington All Saints
The earliest reference we have to the tower or church bells is from a 1663 Archbishop Presentment when the churchwardens complained ‘our bells are not in repair’, and again in 1685 ‘our steeple is out of repair’.
The churchwardens’ accounts for the period 1785-1865 include references bell ropes and more general repairs. In 1821:
On a festive note:
Bell ropes seem to vary quite wildly in price during the period – quantities, if stated, are two, three or a set (eg 1796-7: 12s 6d for set plus 1s for putting to; 1806: 3 ropes 9s 6d; 1847: 3 ropes £1 0s 0d). Five sets were bought in the period 1791-1807.
Early White's trade directories describes the church as a small ancient building with a tower and three bells (or two – they are not consistent!).
The newspaper report of the church re-opening in 1865 noted a wish ‘very generally expressed in the parish for a new peal of bells’. In April 1866 John Taylor & Co Loughborough gave an estimate for two new bells, recasting an old bell, a new frame, and hanging for £162 10s.
In 1867 Mr Fretwell, stone mason and builder, invoiced James Thorpe:
Mar 25th: Church repairing tower & fixing beam for bells £2 7s 6d
In 1868 John Campion, village carpenter presented an invoice totalling 8s for work between 12th May and 22nd Dec: Alter Bell slide and frames, bell stay and frames screwed up, bell wheels repaired and slides, put in belfry floor oakham.
After the rebuilding the tower contained five bells cast by Messrs. Taylor & Co of Loughborough.
According to the Newark Advertiser of September 1904:
‘Some months ago Mr Tebb an old veteran ringer of over 50 years' experience, a resident of Coddington, organised a company of young men to learn the art of ringing, and under his able tuition they have made very creditable progress. The vicar (Reverend C. Penswick Smith) to show his appreciation of their efforts, treated the company of them last week to a day's outing at Cleethorpes.’
The 1957 Church survey confirms 5 bells hung in an oak frame with iron plates and stays dating to 1867. It adds that the frame is in fair condition (a slight attack by Death Watch beetle seems to have died out). The floor below the bells had extensive furniture beetle workings and there were significant settlement problems and cracking in the west wall from the ground to the string course. Masonry repairs, crack monitoring, insecticide spraying, cleaning and painting of ironwork on the bell frame and renewal of the bell chamber shutters and bird guards were recommended.
The bells were notoriously difficult to ring and in the early 1960s the bell-ringers raised £100 to fund an investigation of the state of the bells and tower by bell founders Whitechapel (of London) and Taylors (of Loughborough). Ringing from the upper bell-tower ceased and fund raising began, culminating in the 1965 dedication of a ring of six, thoroughly restored bells and frame, rung from the ground floor of the tower.
The new bell, repairs and rehanging as ring of six was estimated at £1300. Funds were raised mainly by a series of jumble sales, realising about £30 a time. A large donation of £60 (for a 6-bell peal) came from the Southwell Bell Repair Fund.
Taylors cast the new Treble bell (courtesy of the Barron Trust), a new steel frame was built and the dedication service took place on 15th November 1965.