BUILDING & CHURCHYARD
The tower contains a ring of 3 bells:
Tenor, diameter 3ft 2in, Founder Thomas Hedderley of Nottingham, 1749.
Treble, diameter 2ft 7in, Founder Thomas Hedderley of Nottingham, 1780.
Alto, diameter 2ft 10in, Founder Thomas Mears II of London, 1826.
The tenor bell bears an ornate inscription in Gothic script capitals which reads: ‘HEC CAMPANA SACRA FIAT TRINITATE BEATA’ (‘May the Holy Trinity bless this bell’). The bell is also heavily decorated with ornate scollops and borders.
The alto, which has been recast at some time, is dated 1826 and bears the simple inscription: ‘ANTHONY HEMSLEY CHURCHWARDEN’. Anthony Hemsley, who was the son of Revd. Thomas Hemsley (vicar, 1782 – 1790), was left the tenancy of a farm in Grimston in his father’s will (in 1813). Anthony was the nephew of John Hemsley, who is commemorated on a plaque on the north wall of the nave.
The treble bell, although also by Hedderley, is not in the ornate style of the tenor and is inscribed: ‘THIS BELL WAS RECAST TO SING BY FRIENDS TO COUNTRY AND KING, GLOVER AND THOMAS AUSTIN CHURCHWARDENS’.
Thomas Hedderley’s Pocket Book (of 1780) records that: ‘Grimstone Tenor Bell note lyeth betwixt A & G. 38¾" wide, 24" high, 2⅜" thick full’; ‘Treble; before cast 5cwt. 2q. 7lb; after cast 6cwt. 0q. 18lb.’
The three bells retain the canons (loops) which were cast upon their heads at the time of founding for the purpose of suspending the bells from their headstocks by means of metal strap fastenings.
The bell frame is of traditional oak construction and is designed such that all three bells swing in an east to west direction. On stylistic grounds the frame has been dated to the 1630s. This dating has been confirmed by dendrochronology (tree ring analysis) carried out for English Heritage (Centre for Archaeology) in 2005, which showed that the oak trees from which most of the frame is made were felled between 1628 and 1648. Repairs were later made to part of the frame using wood felled in 1759-1779. So the trees were felled some time before the bells were cast. The repairs may have been made at the time the treble bell was installed.
At present the state of the frame is such that the bells cannot be safely rung in full circle.
Dendrochronology was carried out by Nottingham University Tree-Ring Dating Laboratory on samples taken from the bell frames of 18 churches in Leicestershire. The results were published as English Heritage Centre for Archaeology Report 5/2005 by AJ Arnold, RE Howard, CD Litton and G Dawson (ISSN 1473-9224).
With thanks to GA Flatters, John Taylor & Co, Loughborough.