Three of the original bells (later recast in 1845) still hang in the tower and bear the following inscriptions:
IN JOCUNDITATE SONI SONABO 1600
SOLI DEO GRATIA 1636
GLORIA IN EXCELSIS 1676
In 1842 a certain Revd John Snowden brought added fame to Ilkley. He was an ardent campanologist and his three sons, Jasper, William and Henry, all shared their father's great enthusiasm for bellringing. When Jasper was one, the three ancient, cracjed bells were recast to make a peal of six bells.
In 1873, Jasper aged 29, and his brothers raised £300 out of £350 to add two more bells, a Treble and Tenor (18cwt). Jasper died in 1885 aged 41, an historian and expositor of change-ringing of national fame. Muffled peals of bells were rung in towers throughout the land in his honour and memory.
Do take a close look at the Snowden memorial window (by the north door behind the font) which was donated by the bellringers of the land. How many bells can you count? 6,8,12 or15?
Text below by John Le Patourel (1981) from his Guide to the Church
The earliest bells in the church of which we have any knowlege were cast in the seventeenth century. There were three of them,
- IN JOCVNDITATE SONI SONABO 1600
- SOLI DEO GRATIA 1636
- GLORIA IN EXCELSIS J676
(Some authorities give the inscription on the second bell as Soli Deo Gloria).
In 1845 these were recast and augmented into a peal of six. Two were added in 1873 (No. I treble and No. 8 tenor) and the old No. 4 recast to form No. 5. The original frame carrying the peal had been of oak, and this showed such serious signs of decay in 1938 that ringing was stopped for a time. Following an appeal for funds, the whole ring was taken out of the tower, recast and rehung in a new steel girder frame. This work, however, was not completed until after the outbreak of war. Consequently, the new bells had to remain silent until their ringing would no longer be interpreted as a warning of imminent invasion. The weight of the tenor bell is 184' cwts. and the total weight of the peal of 8 is nearly 3J tons. The pitch is E natural. All the work on the bells of which there is any record has been carried out by the famous firm of John Taylor & Co. Loughborough.