St James' Six Bells were Cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, a well-established bellfounder, in 1727.
The bells were paid for by a local benefactor, Lady Ann Bland who founded St Ann's Church in the centre of Manchester (founded 1712). She is buried in the graveyard at St James and there is a plaque to her memory next to the pulpit in St James Church. The link between the two churches is celebrated every year by a posy-laying ceremony in St James Church.
The bells have been rung more or less continually since their installation in the tower. They were, following national guidelines, not rung in wartime and fell into disuse in the 1960's due to deterioration of the oak frame in which the bells were housed.
The bells were taken out of the tower in 1976 by Taylors of Loughborough who did some remedial work on the bells and re-hung them in a modern, cast-iron frame on new bearings. This makes these relatively light bells easy to ring and is a perfect venue for learning to ring.
Recently, the bells were silenced again by the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020.
Bell Dedications and weights
1.Lady Anne Bland and Sr John benefactors 1727
2.Robert Twyford Minister 1727
3.William Twyford Thomas Whitelegge 1727
4.Prosperity to our benefactors 1727
5.Abraham Rudhall cast us 1727
6.Let us ring church and king 1727
When do we ring?
We ring for Sunday services, for weddings and on practice nights
Why don't you automate the bells?
Because we enjoy doing it. Bellringing is a skilled pastime; not only do you have to learn to control a large lump of metal being swung through 360 degrees at the end of a long rope; you have to do it in such a way as to make your bell sound in the right order and in the correct place. And this is just the beginning; you need to learn how to move your bell so it can swap places with another bell - and still sound in the right place. There are complex patterns of changes to be learned (called "methods") and you use you eyes, ears and hands to ring with the rest of the team and produce a pleasing result.
Because we work closely together as a team to make the bells ring well, we take the team spirit off site with us (usually next door to the pub...). Ringing is an excellent way to make new friends and because the standards and methods learnt in any tower are recognised worldwide, you will also be able to ring anywhere where there are bells to be rung.
How do I get involved?
Have a look at our "learn to ring" section which will tell you how to start.