St. Mary and All Saints, Kidderminster
There have been bells at St. Mary's since at least the early sixteenth century, yet they seem never to have had a good reputation. Many of the problems with the bells stemmed from earlier attempts to save money by patching-up an already poor ring of bells. It seemed important not to repeat the mistakes of the past!
The decision was, therefore, made to cast a brand new ring of twelve bells (plus an additional 'Flat 6th' semitone bell) in the summer of 2002. Some of the old bells went to new homes, with the remainder being scrapped.
The new bells have a life expectancy of 1000 years. They are hung in a new two-tier cast-iron frame built on a rolled steel foundation. Steps have also been taken to improve the tower acoustic and improve access to the bell and ringing chambers. The total cost of the works has been just under £150,000.The new ring is relatively uncommon in that it is a peal of twelve tuned to the key D natural. It is also unusual in that the weight has increased slightly, with the tenor growing from 24-2-2 to little over 25cwt; churches usually go for lighter ring when casting their bells.
The tower of the church contains twelve bells that are rung for church services and also for many international, national and local events of importance. The bells are the way that the church can communicate to the citizens of Kidderminster. They can be told of weddings and funerals. They can also be told of good news and of bad news in the time of war.
Inside you will see that the tower is comprised of four levels. As you negotiate the first set of stone steps look at the wear on the steps that indicate how many people have climbed them in the last approx. 750 years. You will first enter the Ringing Chamber and there you'll see the ropes hanging from above with their brightly coloured Sallies. This room is where the ringers ring the bells. On the walls around you there are Peal Aboards with one dating back to 1765.
There are some easier steps to the next level where the clock mechanism is kept and also the actual Bell Chamber. You will see the twelve bells of St Mary's in the brightly coloured frame. Some bells are small (the trebles) while one is absolutely massive. This is the Tenor Bell.
Your next stop is the very top of the tower and from this height you'll see a birds eye view of Kidderminster laid out below you and to the horizon.