Before they’re sent away for reconditioning we thought we’d test the bells intended for the reconstruction of St Helen’s Church from Eston.
Deciphering old notes shows that the original late mediaeval bell – “Sancta Maria Ora Pro Nobis” developed a crack and was scrapped in either 1834 or 1884. This bell must have pre-dated the building of the Tower in the 17th century, so must have been a rather small one from the earlier bell cote. A second bell was given to the church in the 18th century. During the 20th century this bell was moved to another local church.
When the museum deconstructed the Church in the 1990’s the charred remains of the ancient oak bell frames survived to be recorded and were carefully replicated in the 2012 reconstruction of the building. One piece of oak was even still serviceable enough to re-incorporate in the new frame. We’ve since been looking for bells to bring some noise to our reconstructed church!
This is the older of the two, it dates from 1598 and was bought by the museum at auction in 2011. It’s almost certainly by the northern bell and mortar founder, Robert Orwell. Like the Eston original, it’s clearly initially from a bell cote.
This is the younger of the two, it dates from the 1760s and was donated to the museum more recently.
We’re excited to hear them when they’ve been reconditioned, and are really looking forward to them making their way to the St Helen’s tower!