What’s in the Tower?

Access to the Tower – A Brief Tour

Important Notice: Access to the tower must be authorised and supervised due to trip hazards, and unfamiliarity with the environment.

The Ringing Room

Twelve steps from the ground floor will take you to the ringing room. This room was built in 2005 when the tower arch screen was installed.

Photographs of ringers past and present and other ringing paraphernalia adorn the walls and the white boards are used to explain the theory of change ringing, and to plan our ringing and social activities. There are details of all the quarter peals which have been rung in the tower and there is a peal board which marks the first peal on the bells after they were re-hung in 2000.

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The Clock Room

A further 18 steps take the visitor to the clock room in which are displayed former clock and bell fittings. There is room for a small number of visitors to see the clock and chimes in action.

The clock, made in 1683 is by Thomas Power of Wellingborough and it came to the parish at that time with the chiming apparatus. The churchwardens’ accounts imply that the chiming apparatus may have been rebuilt by Joseph Eayre of St.Neots in 1757. Both machines are still fully operational.

The chimes play every three hours for five minutes. There are five tunes, details of which can be found here.

The clock room also displays a selection of obsolete clock parts, discarded when replacements were fitted, and the old stays and sliders, and the wheel and headstock of the tenor from the original installation.

Pre 2005

This room was empty until the bells were re-hung in 2000 when the clock was moved from the room above to make way for the new bell installation. In the late 19th century the bells were rung from this room. A small warning bell is testament to this.

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The Belfry

The belfry is reached by climbing another 11 steps and a small scramble takes the visitor alongside the bells.

The tower contains a ring of six bells, plus a seventh bell which was the original No3, retained as a 5 minute bell when the installation was completely renewed in 2000, and a new bell cast in its place.

Only two of the original six bells remain, Nos 5 and the original No 3. The tenor bell has a very interesting history. It was orginally cast for the church in Bletsoe in Bedfordshire, but found its way to our tower in 1787! A study by Chris Pickford tells all, and can be found here!

 No. Diameter Inscription & FounderDate CwtKgNote
 Treble 2′ 4½”John Taylor & Co., Loughborough1883 4-2-7 219  D
 2 2′ 6½”C & G Mears, London 1854  4-3-2 223C
 32′ 9¼”Sing a New Song to the Lord
Whitechapel A..2000
 2000 7-0-19 364 Bflat 
OCT. 1895
John Taylor & Co., Loughborough
 1895 8-1-3 414A
 5 3′ 2½”Bryan Eldridge me fecit 1658  1658 9-3-1 464G
 Tenor 3′ 7½”I EDMUNDS LONDON FECIT  THOS W..(incised inscription  R.TAYLOR FECIT  obscuring former wording ….ALKER RECTOR  JOB NE….) …ALE JOHN MAKEHAM CHURCH WARDENS 1767 1767 13-2-11 678F
Old No 3 bell2′ 8½” Bryan Eldridge me fecit 1658  1658 6-2-0 317B
Details of the Bells

More information can be found in Dove’s Guide for Church Bell Ringers.

Decorated Clapper Flights

In 2021 the flights of the clappers were decorated with emblems directly relevant to or associated with the tower. It is believed that this is a unique practice only carried out by Great Gransden.

Treble: Cross of St.George

No 2: Union Flag

No 3: Emblem of the Diocese of Ely

No 4: Emblem of South Cambridgeshire

No 5: Emblem of St.Bartholomew

Tenor: Emblem of the Clare family

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The Old Belfry

Access to the old belfry is a further 25 steps, which become a little steeper. Entry into this room is through a very small hatch and visitors are not usually allowed into this part of the tower. Timber boarding protects the visitor from falling into the old bell frame, which is dated 1658.

The bells were re-hung into a new metal bell frame in 2000. Before we could go ahead with the project various inspections were carried out, which included a comprehensive report by Chris Pickford on the state of the exiting timber frame. A copy of his report is found here.

The former No3 bell (also dated 1658) is swing chimed as the 5-minute bell before church services.

Photographs of the installation pre 2000 can be found here, or by a link on our Heritage page

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Muffles: we ring the bells half muffled for Remembrance and other memorial occasions. A muffle is a leather pad which fits over one side of the clapper to make it strike softly when that side of the clapper hits the bell. Listen to half muffled ringing here.

Gt Gransden Muffle bag
Muffle on clapper striking the bell

Simulator (See also the Learn to Ring page): The simulator enables us to ring any number of bells for practice sessions in bell handling and control. The bells are silenced, which prevents any sound being heard outside the tower. Each bell is fitted with a sensor which transmits a signal through a processor to an app on a laptop device in the ringing room.

Sensor on the bell frame which shines a light on a reflector on the bell wheel
The box of tricks which processes data received through the sensors
Display on the laptop which the ringer uses as a guide when ringing

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