Bell Tower or belfry

St Michaels

When looking at old churches an important part of its structure is
the bell tower or belfry.  


The bell gets its name from the Saxon word bellen, to bell or bellow.  

Generally a bell is a hollow, cup-shaped body of cast metal.  It emits one clear, pealing note termed the fundemental when struck by a clapper at the thickest part known as the sound bow.  

From ancient times a bell has been regarded as essential to a church.
Its uses are so manifold that it would be difficult to recount them all. 
Perhaps the bell as a timekeeper has been out-dated, particularly for this parish when 200 years ago our church clock and its bell were presented to St Michael's.

Our belfry contains eight bells, three of them very old.  

St Michaels


Our first bell was cast before 1388. 
It bears the marks of the Lions Head, Groat and Trefoil of Wokingham foundry, which derived from the famous Chertsey Abbey foundry.  

It may not have been the original bell,
for the church was a Parochial Chapel as far back as 1121 and perhaps was cracked and damaged, but the original clapper has been saved and is in the belfry.  

There might have been a second bell dated 1511, for in the will of John Awbrey, the first recorded Lord of the Manor of Aldershot, his heir was instructed to recover papers from one Bullesdon, bellfounder of London who supplied many bells to churches in Hampshire.  However nothing came of i, for Eustace Knyll disposed of the manor to Robert White of Farnham soon afterwards.

The oldest bell was recast in 1911 when the church was enlarged.


The second bell was cast in 1611. 
It was made by William Yare of Reading. 
It probably commemorates two events,
1) the publication of the 'Authorised' version of the Bible,
from the translation commissioned by King James ,
2) together with his visit to act as Godfather to the infant son of
Sir Walter and Lady Mary Tichborne to Aldershot Church.


The third of our ancient bells bears the date 1624.  As most bells are cast to commemorate a special event, this bell apparently does not, until it was remembered that our calendar was unreformed at that date and the year date extended until Lady Day March 25th.  The bell, made by Ellis Knight of Wokingham has a foliate band with cerub heads and perhaps commemorates the Accession of King Charles I.

These three bells indicate that the original ring of three, the ringing was from outside the tower for there are grooves above the tower windows made by bell ropes.  The other bells are modern and the events they commemorate are well known.


The next three bells were added in 1911 when the church was enlarged,
making the ring of six.


Following the First World War, two trebles were given by soldiers in Aldershot Camp in memory of their comrades who had been killed during hostilities and these are named "Soldiers' Bells"

The eight bells were recast and rehung
by John Taylor of Loughborough early in 1960.

St Michaels Bells