Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Britain’s Oldest Bell? (NZ169856)

Mitford, the ancient parish to the west of Morpeth, contains within its church an item which claims to be the oldest surviving example of its kind in Britain. As you can see, it’s a church bell; and those who know about these things state that it is more than 850 years old.

St.Mary Magdalene’s ringer is no longer in use, having been removed from the tower in 1862 – it still, however, hangs in the church, in a spot near the main entrance. Experts reckon that the curiously-shaped item was cast no later than 1150, which makes it an extraordinary survival – especially as the church itself was set ablaze on at least three occasions (once, in 1216, on the orders of King John, with many of the locals still inside).

A quick search of the internet soon brings other candidates for the UK’s ‘oldest bell’ into view, many of them (like Mitford’s) amounting to unverifiable guesses. The only one which claims to be older is that at Hardham, Sussex, which may date to c.1100. In fact, there are no obvious examples worldwide that can claim a more distant origin … so Mitford may, in fact, possess the oldest church bell in the world!

No comments:

Post a Comment