THE TOWER OF ALL SAINTS' CHURCH

church tower

This is 13th century and is a rubble build. The tower is a two stage crenellated tower, diagonally buttressed. It has two bell openings, which contain the Somerset Tracery. In actual fact the tower is wider at the base than at the Top. The tower contains 6 bells and these were reinstated in 2009 having not been rung since 1989 due to the death watch beetle etc having had a good feast on the wooden beams supporting the bells and over time damp had caused a certain amount of damage to the beam structure. There is a short video on the 2009 inauguration of the re-tuned bells at the foot of the page.

When the ceiling dropped in the ringing chamber in September 1989 it was found that the builder had only secured the centre beam (which held the ceiling in place) with a couple of nails and had not sunk the beam into the wall. When the ceiling was removed a piece of paper containing the name of the plasterer and his labourer was found, dated June 27th 1909 J. Edbrooke plasterer 49 years of age and P.J.Cook 22 years of age who was the labourer.

On removal of the ceiling it was found that a variety of sound proofing materials had been used between the ceiling and the layer above. On further investigation it was found that there was another ceiling above the original and the sound proofing material used here was sawdust and sand. All the layers of soundproofing and ceilings were removed in order to investigate the extent of death-watch beetle attack and wood rot.

Because the tower was built largely of porous local sandstone, in 1682 the church south aisle and tower was "ruf cast rendered using lyme, graivile and sundry burshells of heaire."

 

Extracts from the Churchwardens accounts of 1682
         
Feb. 20th It for fower Hogsheads and halfe of lyme to ruf cast the church £1 1s 4d
  It for six burshells of heaire and fetching it.   4s 8d
  It for 2 harffes and a man one day to fetch graivile to ruf cast the church   2s 6d
March 3rd It for fower scoare and five foots of boards to make a cradle to rufe cast ye tower.   10s 7d
  It fower pounds of Board naile to make it.   1s 8½d
  It for five bushels of Heaire to plaster the tower and fetching it.   3s 1¼d
  It for fower Hogsheads of Lyme and fetching.   18s 0d
  It given them in Beare while ruf casting.   2s 6d
  It paid John Burt towards the ruf casting of the church and tower £3 10s 0d
         

 

However, the ruf casting was remover from the tower in probably Victorian times but the ruf casting still remains on the walls of the south aisle and a small amount of the original ruf casting remains near the bottom of the tower on the south side.

church

In the 19th century the access to the bell ringing chamber was changed from the narrow entrance inside the church at the base of the tower to outside, where a flight of brick steps was constructed on the South side of the tower and a doorway constructed. A number of the stone steps were removed and the entrance to the bells from inside of the church was blocked by a wall. This allowed the Elijah statue to be placed in the entrance.

A century or more later it was realized by the church wardens that there was a problem of dampness in the area of the old tower access, both in the tower itself and at the west end of the South Aisle. This dampness appeared to be caused by the external brick steps, which had no damp course. In 2005 the brick steps were removed, Elijah's statue was moved and the old entrance door and steps to the ringing chamber reinstated.

In 2006 a faculty was obtained from the Diocese of Bath and Wells;

  1. To allow the five smaller bells to be retuned at Whitechapel.
  2. To manufacture a metal frame to support the bell frame and the rotten support beams, which have to be retained.
  3. Manufacture new safety ladders to the bells and tower roof.
  4. Renew all fittings of the bells.
  5. Manufacture and fit a bell rope frame to allow ringing from the church floor.
  6. Fit a timber floor under the supporting beams of the bell frame.

All this cost in excess of £24,000, which was raised by donations and grants. The North and Eastern Sound windows also had to be repaired. The re-tuned bells were inaugurated in 2009 and the occasion videoed by Mike Briginshaw. When someone can edit the video or give me the software to do so, it will be included here.

The bells are now rung from the floor of the church rather than from the old ringing chamber.