Penistone Church

Inside the Tower
Up a narrow spiral staircase (clockwise) we go to the first door, the campanologists' room. That's bell-ringers to you! They can be heard 'change ringing' every Thursday evening. They fasten back the chime mechanism before each session, to prevent it from being wrecked by the rotating bells . Some UK churches use tape recordings - but our carillon is real. You could have some real fun swapping tapes. Imagine belting out 'rap' 'music'.

ringersescapement close-upClock mechanismnot clickable

Clock Room
On the next level, we have the clock mechanism on the West face, which also drives a 90 degree shaft to the South face. It is powered by weights on a series of pulleys and has a pleasant Westminster chime, like Big Ben. Also in the room is an air pump and air reservoir for the organ in the church below. The air reservoir is an airbag in a flat, rectangular box with a heavily weighted lid.

The Bells - Third Floor
Up more steps to the bell room, lit with a Toc-H bulb. This is a cold, dark and forbidding place, not a Quasimodo or bat in sight. These pictures had to be considerably enhanced to show any detail. I don't have a date for the monochrome picture, not that anything has changed over the years. When you look at the old stones of this tower, remember that they were put here about 500 years ago.

bell Paul Taylor

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Penistone church had a carillon of six bells until 1924, when they were re-cast into eight bells. That suggests to me that the older ones were larger and of lower pitch. The bell ringers describe the bells as '14-1-12 in F Sharp' and they can be heard every Thursday evening from about 7.30pm. They are always happy for new members to join and will train them if necessary.

Fish weathervaneI always thought that the slats, visible on the outside, were some kind of volume control but they are in fact fixed in place. The names of Mick Walsh and Paul Taylor can be found chalked in various places and are both visible in the centre picture above. It has taken something like forty years for it to come back and haunt them. Download an MP3 (about 2MB) of the church bells to put in your wedding video.

Angling towards the Top
A few more steps up and then we have a precarious climb up some stones sticking out of the wall, to a little hatch to the roof. The metal-covered roof has four sides at a low angle, rising to a point. The apex holds the pole for the weather vane and the essential lightning conductor.

The weather vane is a large stainless steel fish which was made by a local pensioner. The fish is an early Christian symbol (ICTHIS) and the stainless steel represents local industry. It is as shiny today as the day it was put in place.


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