Tower Tour – Colne Parish Church
St. Bartholomew’s Church in Colne, commonly known as Colne Parish Church, sometimes offers tours of their lovely church tower. These tours are quite infrequent, but often coincide with major events in town such as Easter in Colne and the Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival.
Even then, there are perhaps only two tours scheduled on a day … usually a Saturday morning & early afternoon. If you’re unlucky (as we have been), the morning can be subject to the elements. Any frost or ice will cause the tour to be cancelled. It’s a bit of a treat and we first managed to actually get up the tower during the Easter in Colne event in 2019 (we tried for years earlier, but always seemed to have missed it). In 2019, we were a little greedy and went up the tower twice more – with a full hour at the top of the tower in between the official public tours. Many pictures were taken during the blistering sun on the Sat of the R&B Festival.
Normally, people gather in the small area to the rear of the inside of the church, just outside the door to the church tower. The steps in the tower are steep, very windy and space is very limited. There’s a rope handrail for most of the journey, but you need to be fairly fit and wearing suitable footwear. It requires the utmost caution as a fall probably be very painful.
Bell Ringing Chamber
After a flight of steep twisting stairs you can see a room which is, of course, the bell ringing chamber. Unsurprisingly, it has a some pew-style benches to sit on and an open space for the bell ringers to operate the ropes.
Bells: Their history & a quick introduction to bell ringing.
Parts of Colne Parish Church itself date way back to the 11th century. The tower tour includes details of where the bells were made and a really interesting explanation of how they actually were transported to Colne. It involves a fairly interesting route along canals and road ways … by horse and cart. But we’ll not spoil all your fun by explaining in detail.
“The earliest record of Colne Bells dates from the reign of Edward VI (1547 – 53) Six of the present peal date from 1814, with the two lightest bells added in 1900. The heaviest (tenor) weighs over 16wt (0.8 tonnes). A special peal was rung to celebrate victory at Waterloo in 1815. One ringer became over-enthusiastic, and the bell rope carried him up to the ceiling where his head made a dent in the plaster.”
Ringing Chamber – a quick look around
After the the introduction, everyone is asked to exit the room and asked to head further up the tower. They’re heading towards the bell room, which is directly above the ringing chamber. However, we hang around, as we want to be last out so that we can have a closer look at the room. The walls are furnished with various photos, plaques, newspaper cuttings and bell ringing instructions.
The Bell Room
The bell room is really impressive. Here you can see pictures of the room, bells and can see that some of the bells are in their “up” position. After more information, and a shout to the bell ringer downstairs … the bells start ringing. Yeah, it’s pretty loud. I think we all vibrated out of the room like a row of skittles! Again, a fantastic experience – one not to be missed!
Journey to the top of the Church Tower
Stepping out of the bell room, the next task is to tackle even more steps. We all head up towards the door that will allow us access to the top of the tower. Again, this is a little tricky and care must be taken. Any mistake at this point really would be bad idea.
Top of the Church Tower
After negotiating the transition from the steps to the roof (which isn’t that easy and some care needs to be taken not to bang your head), then awesome views await … The time at the top of the tower is great fun and very, very precious.
A bit more of Colne’s history …
… and we couldn’t resist at having a crack at replicating one of the photo’s … for a bit of fun to wind down from the adrenaline rush.
Millenium Bell Ringers
Meet the bell ringers that brought in the Year 2000 in Colne. Picture courtesy of Maria Dyson, who was also the person to ring the first bell in the year 2000. Many thanks for the information – a nice piece of Colne’s history that could so easily have been forgotten.