St Peter’s Church has a ring of six bells numbered, keynote F#. There were not always six bells, the earliest known history referring to a ring of four bells existing in 1552. These would be equivalent to the present 3rd, 4th, 5th and tenor.
In 1641, Ellis Knight I of Reading recast the 4th and 5th (presumably cracked or otherwise damaged) and added the 2nd. Apart from some minor twentieth century surgery, these three bells – 2nd, 4th and 5th – remain as cast and still carry the date 1641.
The 3rd bell was also recast, during the late 1690s, by William and Robert Cor of Aldbourne, followed, in 1774, by the 6th, recast by Thomas Rudhall of Gloucester. He also augmented the ring to six bells, adding the treble during 1775.
These recast and added bells were apparently of sound quality as no further work was recorded until 1925. On 12th May in that year, King George V and Queen Mary watched as the Croydon bell founders, Gillett and Johnston, recast the treble and 3rd without canons (the crown shaped fixing loops on the top of the bell). They also removed the canons from the 2nd, 4th, 5th and tenor, then retuned and bolted all six bells directly to their headstocks. The four ‘old’ bells were quarter-turned to allow the clapper to strike an unworn area of the bell mouth. The bells were hung in a new cast iron frame with provision for a total of eight bells.
If you have followed the story so far you will appreciate that the bells were cast (or recast) during three different centuries and at three different foundries, but yet are acknowledged (by some) to be the best ring of six for miles around.