St Mary's Church
Felmersham, Bedfordshire
 
 
 

Church Clock
and Bells

A primitive sundial known as a scratch dial
on display in the church

The Church Clock
The timepiece and the chiming mechanism are completely separate.

 
 


1. Time Piece
Lund and Blockley, Pall Mall, London. 1880
 

2. Chiming or Striking Mechanism
Probably by the same maker as the Time Piece

 

1) Timepiece: Plate and spacer features.  Date 1880
         Made by Lund & Blockley, 42 Pall Mall, London
         - Clock No. 2/475
 
Specification: Cast iron frame. Brass wheels and lantern pinions. Deadbeat escapement. Wooden pendulum rod, cylindrical bob, beat 1¼ seconds. Cast iron barrel. The great wheel rotates once in 3 hours and drives an hour arbor. Hour arbor has a four lobed snail which lets off (triggers) the chime mechanism. There is a setting dial and maintainer. Automatic winding with synchronous winder on the second arbor, fitted by the author.

2) Chiming Mechanism
: Flatbed features. Date 1880
                            Probably made by Lund & Blockley
 
There is no maker's name on the chime but there is a similarity in the design of the pivot bushes etc, to suggest the same maker as the timepiece.
 
The distinctive characteristic of the chime is the wooden chiming barrel. It has radial pins and circumferential hour bands which trigger the quarters and the hours. The chiming barrel rotates five times in twelve hours and a cam pushes the barrel axially to engage the appropriate pins and bands. Unfortunately, the quarter chiming triggers and levers are missing and consequently the mechanism only goes through the motions of chiming the quarters. It does, however, strike the hours.

By studying the barrel it appears that the chime was a simple ting tang which is a little disappointing for such a grand mechanism. The quarter chime may have been removed when three new bells were hung in 1955 or alternatively the chimes were never supplied. The speed of the chime is regulated by a vertical fly which is driven by a wheel driving a worm. This arrangement is a little unusual insofar that it is normal engineering practice for the worm to drive the wheel.

Carillons and chiming mechanisms usually need very heavy weights to drive them and with a weight of 6501bs this mechanism is no exception. In order to reduce the high winding tongues a winding jack meshes with the great wheel, which reduces the effort needed to wind it. Automatic winding is now fitted which drives the chime through the winding jack pinion and hence reduces the required winding torque.
 
A convex copper dial, painted black with gold Roman numerals overlooks the village on the south face of the tower.


Former Sharnbrook Church Clock
(on display in Felmersham Church)

Type: Two wooden upright posts. Known as doorframe type
Maker: Unknown
Date: Mid C17?
 
Two oak posts support both trains and the arbours are secured to the posts with pivot wedge bolts. Flail-locking strike control with internally notched count wheel and a blade-shaped locking piece.

Below the strike train is the converted going train. The great wheel formed part of the original train which had a verge and foliot escapement with the foliot suspended beneath the frame. Converted to recoil anchor escapement in the early C18.
 
Going train ratios: great wheel 113T; second arbor pinion 14T; second arbor wheel 60T; escape wheel pinion 13T; escape wheel 30T.


Sharnbrook Wooden Frame Clock possibly mid C17
On display in Felmersham Church

 

The tenor bell weighs 1052 kgms (1ton 74lbs). Rev'd. Thomas Sander stands beside the bell to give an indication of size
The Church Bells
 

Prior to 1951 there was only a ring of five bells in the tower. The two oldest bells were made by the Bedford bell founder Edward Newcombe, and both are inscribed Newcome made mee 1617.
 
H
ugh Watts, of Leicester, made the treble in 1634 and it is known as a Watt’s Nazarenes bell because of the inscription IHS Nazarenvs Rex Judorvm fili dei Misereri Mei 1634. (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, Son of God, have mercy on me).
 

The tenor and the third were cast in the C18 by the St Neots bell founder Joseph Eayre and these are both inscribed John Hutchinson, Vicar, William Bithrey, Robert Lord, Church Wardens, Joseph Eayers St. Neots, Fecit 1766. Weighing 20cwt 2quarters 18lbs (1052 kgms) the tenor is the heaviest bell and bears the additional inscription Cum voco venite (Come at my call).
 
In 1955, the original ring of five bells were re-tuned and augmented into a ring of eight. The additional three bells were made by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and installed mainly at the expense of Sir Richard and Lady Wells, as a memorial to their three sons who were killed in action during the 1939-45 war. All eight bells were re-hung with new fittings and a new metal frame replaced the old oak frame.
 

To hear the church bells
click here

 
 Bell Note

Weight
cwt.  qrs.  lbs.

Maker Date
 Tenor Eb  20 - 2 - 18 Joseph Eayre - St Neots 1766
 7th F  14 - 2 - 19 Edward Newcombe - Bedford 1617
 6th G  11 - 2 - 2 Joseph Eayre - St Neots 1766
 5th Ab   8 - 1 - 19 Edward Newcombe - Bedford 1617
 4th Bb   8 - 2 - 3 Hugh Watts - Leicester 1634
 3rd C   6 - 2 - 27 Whitechapel Bell Foundry 1955
 2nd D   6 - 0 - 14 Whitechapel Bell Foundry 1955
 Treble Eb   5 - 2 - 10 Whitechapel Bell Foundry 1955

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