whitkirk St Mary  SE 363336

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A mostly fifteenth century church restored in 1855 with the chancel lengthened in 1901.


Three bells hung for full-circle ringing though currently unringable.

Bell Founder Date Cwt-Qtr-Lb Diameter Note
1 Thomas Mears 1803   32.5" C#
2 Thomas Mears 1803   34.5" B
3 Thomas Mears 1803   38" A


All bells.  IB:    Thomas Mears of London Fecit 1803 [ornament]

 The ornament of the treble differs from that on the other bells.

Frame and Fittings

Hung in a spacious wooden frame for three bells bearing all the hallmarks of the work of Mallaby of Masham. All the bells retain their canons and are hung from wooden headstocks with traditional gear.  The wheel of the second bell is missing.  As can be seen in the above photograph the louvre windows have been bricked up entirely.  Plans are afoot to repair the stonework and open up these windows.


A two-train clock by Potts of Leeds in 1877.  It strikes the hours on the tenor.


WHITKIRK  (St. Mary). Three bells.


By her will, dated 10th, July, 1454, and proved the same year at York, Lady Johanna Wombwell, daughter of Sir William Fitzwilliam, of Sprotborough, and second wife of Thomas Wombwell, of Wombwell, but described in her will as a widow, late of Whitkirk, bequeathed “facturae campanaruni de Whitekirk, xls.” (Test. Ebor., ii, 177.)

In 1654 there seem to have been three bells, and in that year  the tenor was recast, and all rehung. Items in the Churchwardens’ Accounts, supplied by the late Mr. W. C. Lutis, are as follows: 

Charges in going to Doncaster to the bellfounder (probably William Cuerdon, who was at this time working at York, &c., with Abraham Smith, but two years later was carrying on business alone at Doncaster, and died there in 1678) vs. vjd.

Charges when the bellfounders came to Whitkirk, and divers neighbours met them, to agree the articles about casting the bell  ixs.

Charges about hiring the carriage of the bell to York js.

Payed to the bellfounder for casting the bell xlli. iijs. iiijd.

For carrying the bell to York and bringing it back again xviijs. iiijd.

Charges upon ourselves, our horses, in going to York, upon the bellfounders and their workmen there, and upon the draught men there and in the way xixs. ijd.

Charges upon the workmen and neighbours about  taking down and drawing up the bell xvs. iiijd.

Charges for getting, bringing, and carrying again the ropes, pullies, and takles, to take down and draw up the bell again with ijs. iiijd.

To Will’m Strickland and his men for their work about all the bells and putting them all in frame . . jli. vjs.

Payed to Henry ………for all the ironwork about the bells and steeple jli. ixs. ijd.

Payed more to Strickland and his man for fastening the great bell in the ……… and for mending the wheels, and for laying the lower chamber floor again iiijs. xd.

More to the Clark for drawing articles between the bellfounders and us about casting the great bell js.

The rehanging does not seem to have been satisfactory, for it required attention the following year-

 Paid to Will’m Strickland for mending ye hanging of the bells and for mending the wheels and for cotterills and ffortoches and other iron work     0  5  6

 In 1682 the middle bell was recast-

Pd for taking downe, carrying to Yorke, casting, bringing againe, and hanging the midle bell, with charges at seu’al times about the same     18  1  2

 On 12th January, 1763, it was ordered that two sufficient oak beams be put under the floor of the steeple next, below the framing of the bells to support the said floor, and a new sole tree under the great bell, and also a new upright post in the same sole, and the whole framing to be stayed and amended at as small expense as may be, at the discretion of the churchwardens, and that Henry Atkinson the younger be employed for working the said reparation.

In 1780 John Hardwick, of Colton, agreed to rehang the great bell in wood, brass, and iron for £2 12s. 6d., “to be referred to Mr. Smeaton, if necessary,” Mr. Smeaton being the great engineer of Eddystone Lighthouse fame, then resident in the parish.

On 25th July, 1802, two of the old bells being broken, it was resolved to have three new ones. The old bells weighed 31 cwt. 2 qrs. 20 lbs., and £173 18s. 1d. was allowed by Mr. Mears for the metal. The new (present) bells weighed 24 cwt. 2 qrs. 5 lbs., and at 1s. 5d. per lb. cost £192 14s. 9d., in addition to £3 8s. 9d. for clappers and £10 16s. 5d. for carriage and other expenses.

     Total, £206 19s. 11d.

Amongst the disbursements entered in the Churchwardens’ Accounts are the following: 

£  s.  d.

1653-4. Pd   to the Ringers for ringing upon ye 5th of November 0  5  0

Pd   for candles for ye Clarke to ring 7 of ye clocke with 0  1  0

1659-60. Pd   to James Nicolson for towling ye sermon bell 0  4  0

Given to ye Ringers for ringing upon ffriday, ye 4th of May instant, upon the news of ye agreement between ye King and Parliament 0  0  6

1664-5. Paid to the Ringers for ringing on the coronacon day 0  4  6

1668-9. Paid to the Ringers for ringing on St. Geo. his day 0  2  6

1678-9. Paid to the Ringers for ringing on the Kings coronacon day, the ffast day, and thanksgiving day 0 12  6

1686-7. Pd to the ringers for the whole yeare, with some charges with them 1  6  8

 It is curious to note that ringing on 5th November survived the death of Charles I.  The bells were not rung on St. George’s Day in honour of the saint, but because it was the anniversary of the coronation of the King (James II).


ARA visited August 2004