This year we are celebrating our bells being 300 years old. On the afternoon of Sunday June 15th, the feast of St Myllin, a band of ringers from across North Wales will attempt a marathon three-hour peal to mark this anniversary.
Around the year 1712 a new parish church was built in Llanfyllin. The finishing touch was the installation of a peal of six bells. The date 1714 and the name of their maker Abraham Rudhall are cast into the metal. In 1684 Abraham Rudhall established a bell-founding business in Gloucester. His work became famous and his bells were said to be ‘distinguished for their musical tone.’ He used Gloucester docks to cheaply transport his bells all around the coast of Britain, Ireland, to Jamaica and America. More locally, Rudhall bells are in towers along the length of the river Severn.
‘musick and good bells’
In 1709 Abraham Rudhall claimed that he had made altogether eight or nine hundred bells ‘to the satisfaction of them that understand musick and good bells’. He died in 1736 and his tombstone in Gloucester Cathedral states that he was “famed for his great skill, beloved and esteemed for his singular good nature and integrity”. Their known quality and cheaper transport made Abraham Rudhall the obvious choice to cast our bells. They would probably have been taken up the Severn to Pool Quay where they would have been transferred to horse and cart for the remainder of the journey to Llanfyllin.
There are roughly 5750 ringable sets of bells in England and 181 in Wales. Most peals of bells have been altered: occasionally bells can crack or peals have been made bigger. Our bells are rare because they remain unaltered and they are one of only six remaining complete sets of six bells. Seven years ago our bells were re-hung with new fittings, thanks to the generosity of the residents of Llanfyllin, ensuring their use for many years to come. We practise on Monday evenings and welcome anyone interested in learning to come along and see what’s involved.
– John Eddy
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