The bell tolls for Dunstable

THIS extraordinary photo dates back to 1899 and shows the bells of Houghton Regis Church at the rear of the building after being lowered from the tower for rehanging.

Sunday, 19th February 2012, 12:38 pm

The church has six bells, two of which (made in 1589 and 1616) were recast in 1899, hence this scene in the churchyard.

The older bell, inscribed “O.B. John Dier Made Me”, is the earliest dated bell in the county.

The largest bell, made in 1673 and inscribed “Anthony Chandler Made Mee”, weighs 13cwt 1qr 3lbs. The others were made in 1811, 1815 and 1816

The photo, from the Pat Lovering Collection, also shows the fairly dilapidated state of the church tower in 1899.

A huge amount of restoration work has since been carried out.

Over a century passed before the bells were rehung once more. They were taken down and refurbished in 2008 by Whites of Appleton Ltd.

Considering the weight of the bells and the small space in which they are housed, this was a fascinating and intricate operation which took from January 21 to April 4 and involved not only the experts but many volunteers.

The whole process was recorded and compiled on to a CD by Houghton’s parish magazine editor, Mick Hunt.

> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society