THE Consistory Court of the diocese of Lincoln granted a faculty
for the removal to the diocesan store of a five-and-a-half-cwt bell
which had been stored for 41 years at the rear of Holy Cross,
Scopwick, a Grade II* listed building that was restored in 1852 and
The bell ("the Wilkinson bell") was cast in 1700 by Humphrey
Wilkinson, a Lincolnshire founder. It is one of 25 bells cast by
him that were still in use in the diocese in 2013.
In 1974, a faculty had been granted in respect of three bells,
including the Wilkinson bell, which ordered the rehanging of one
bell, which was a listed bell, and is now in the tower and is rung.
The faculty permitted the disposal of the remaining two bells as
After representations by a well-known bell antiquary, Ran
Clouston, after the faculty was granted but before the Wilkinson
bell was scrapped, the bell was retained by the church, minus its
clapper. It was left on the nave floor, where it has remained for
the past 41 years. It cannot easily be moved, but is at risk from
The bell was said to impede movement around the back of the
pews, and there had been difficulties in the running of Christmas
bazaars owing to the limitation on space. It was also said to be an
obstacle to plans to develop the space at the back of the church.
The proposal was for it to be offered for sale through the Keltek
The DAC bells adviser examined the bell in September 2013 and
January 2014, and recommended that, if the tone was good, then it
could be offered to the Keltek Trust.
It was found that the tonal quality was poor, however, so that
the bell was unlikely to be of any use to fit into a peal of bells,
and was usable only as a single service bell. It was also said by
the DAC bells adviser that it was a poor example of a Wilkinson
bell, and that there were 24 other such bells in use in the
diocese. Despite its poor tonal quality, and missing clapper and
canon, the bells adviser said that the Keltek Trust would take
The Church Buildings Council (CBC) intervened, and its
assessment was that the bell was one of only a few cast by
Wilkinson on his own as a bell founder; that it was an early
example of his work; and that there were only two bells which
survived from before 1700, when this bell was cast. The casting
appeared to be of good quality, the CBC advised, the lettering was
clear, and four of the six canons had survived.
As such, the CBC said, the bell was "of particular historic
interest", and would merit grant aid from the CBC and the Heritage
When the matter came before Chancellor Mark Bishop, the Keltek
Trust had been unable to find a buyer. The case was approached on
the basis that the bell was a church treasure; so the rules that
applied to the disposal of church treasures had to be followed.
The Chancellor said that this was not a case where it was now
being suggested that the bell would be sold, nor was there a
pressing financial "necessity" for its sale. What was being said
was that the bell was "redundant", and that, if it was only of use
as a service bell, the parish had a listed bell rehung for that
purpose in 1974, and had no need of another bell.
The most eloquent argument in support of redundancy was, the
Chancellor said, that the bell had rested undisturbed on the floor
at the west end of the church for 41 years.
The bell could not be rehung, owing to its poor tonal quality,
and it plainly could not remain where it was in the church, the
Chancellor said. Taking all those factors into account, the
Chancellor was satisfied that there were sufficient grounds for
disposing of the bell by granting a faculty permitting its removal
to the diocesan store, where it must be recorded, preserved, and