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Saved by the Bells



Living on Westgate in the Mansion House, Matthew Wyldebore was Peterborough’s MP. He lost his way in the Fens in the dark and fortunately heard the bells from St. John’s Church and was able to find his way home safely. To give thanks to the church he bequeathed £1 for the bell ringers to ring the bells on the anniversary of his death and for the vicar to give a sermon to give thanks for his safe return home. He died on 15th March 1781 and the bells still ring on that date to remember him.

St. John’s Church Swaps a Bell with Leice...



In 1541 the great bells of St. John's church and Leicester Abbey were swapped over. It is not clear why the bells were exchanged, but the cost of the swap is detailed in the church records. Robert Newcome received payment for weighing the bells and identifying that one was larger. A man from 'Wyttlyllsey' (Whittlesey) was paid 20p for supplying 'a gable to tacke down the olde bell and hang up the new'. But they were only bit parts in the story. The bells had to be swapped over, so it was decided that the bell from Peterborough would be driven to Leicester, where they would collect the other bell and return with it. This was 1541 though! Four men including John Gedney and Robarte Allyn set off with 10 horses pulling a cart with the bell on top. They rested for the first night in Uppingham, fixed the cart and continued to Leicester. They stayed in Leicester for several days before making the journey back, stopping again in Uppingham. In total they took eight days for their journey, fixing the cart several times. All of the costs of food and drink were paid for, as well as their accommodation. Not to mention payment for their time. John Gedney was paid 5 shillings for himself and the hire of four horses. Roberte Allen was paid 14 shillings 'for 6 horsys and 2 men for 8 days'.
W. T. Mellows (ed.) Peterborough Local Administration Churchwarden's Accounts 1467-1573 with Supplementary Documents 1107-1488, Northamptonshire Record Society, 1939 p145

Bagley’s Bells of Castor



Castor Church sits in a commanding position over the Nene Valley. It has a rich history with enviable Roman, Saxon and Norman construction within the building. Evidence of the Roman Praetorium and Saint Kyneburgha's church are easy to identify. What is not as easy to see, but easy to hear, are the church bells. There are eight in total, six of which date from 1700. They were inscribed by the name of the bell founder Henry Bagley who lived in Ecton, Northamptonshire. Two bells declare 'Henry Bagley of Ecton Made Me 1700' and two repeat the statement in Latin. The other two are a mixture of Latin and English, the Tenor bell declaring 'I to the church the living call and to the grave do summon all.' Henry Bagley was a master bell founder and the second Henry Bagley. He also holds the honour of being the tutor of Henry Penn, Peterborough's well-known bell founder. The two newest bells were installed as millennium commemorations. One is inscribed 'Untouched I am a silent thing, but strike me and I sweetly sing.' We can imagine that Henry Bagley would be happy with that sentiment.