HISTORY

Our bells - a fascinating history!

It is often stated by bell ringers from other local churches that the Borden bells are more difficult to ring than their own. 

This is primarily because most church bells have been replaced in more recent times and now have metal frames and modern ball bearings on which their bells rotate. Borden is proud of the heritage of its bells and the fact that they are still working with an installation which dates back 214 years.
More information is available by clicking on the links below. 
History of the bells and tower Ringing the bells
The Belfry

Borden has a long tradition of bell making and ringing. John Wilnar was a local Borden man and bell maker and his bells date from the early 1600s and some of his originals survive in other churches around Kent, the nearest being in the bell tower in Bredgar (St John The Baptist Church) which has two John Wilnar bells (number 4 and 6). Borden's original Wilnar versions were fired in a foundry believed to be sited somewhere in Oad Street and at that stage he made only six bells for the tower. This was the era marking the demise of William Shakespeare so it may have been a case of “alas poor Will”, but was “a glorious summer” for the ringers of Borden!

The current eight bells are made from the metal from that original peal of six which were melted down and recast in 1802 by the Whitechapel foundry (still in production today) into those you'll see and hear today. The original six bells were transported by horse and cart to Milton Quay and up river by boat to Whitechapel making the return journey later as eight. The largest, the tenor weighing in at over 22 hundred weight, just over a ton. 

One of the features of the Borden Tower is that the bells, frame and mechanisms have in fact remained largely unaltered since they were 
re-hung in 1802. Only a couple of the headstocks were changed in the late 1880s so it's clear that, apart from the modern ropes, the men of the Borden band circa 1900 were using exactly the same mechanism you can see today. So here at Borden we are one of only a few towers which can bring the past quite so up close and personal!

The Ringing Room restoration project hopes to continue to preserve the past whilst providing a great experience for the new generation of 
bell-ringers. 

The current clock replaced an original eighteenth century mechanism in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
Ringing Room

In the ringing room, what looks like a fireplace is in fact the space formerly occupied by a barrel of ale. Traditionally weaker than the average modern brew it was used for refreshments for the band as tea and coffee were expensive in the nineteenth century and water was definitely not as safe to drink as it is today.

In the corner of the room stands the Ellacombe Apparatus, a chiming system that was devised by Reverend Henry Thomas Ellacombe of Gloucestershire, who first had such a system installed in Bitton, South Gloucestershire in 1821. 

It is believed he created the system to make bell-ringers redundant, so churches did not have to tolerate “the behaviour of unruly bell-ringers”. Today's Borden Bell-ringers are considered to be a much more refined band (although a vote to reinstate the ale barrel would be a close one!). This Ellacombe is used mainly for chiming out hymns and Christmas carols.



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