n the times of old, church bells played a vital role in the life of any community.They served as a quick and efficient messaging and warning system with their array of tones, sequences and peals. These days they are – at best – annoying, especially to those city slickers more used to pinging of their smart phones than sounds of the countryside! In Caldecote, we have one bell, sadly mute these days.It bears a date of 1630 and was cast by a member of the Oldfield clan of bellfounders. The Oldfields of Nottingham were a very known family with roots well back into the latter part of Henry VIII’ reign. Even then they enjoyed high reputation.However, towards the end of the 16th century the Oldfields were on the move, travelling in the direction south.We can only speculate why: perhaps because in the post-Reformation England not many new bells were cast and work in Nottingham simply dried out? Richard Oldfield (born around 1545), packed his family and all his worldly possessions onto a cart and headed for London.On the way, he stopped in Kings Lynn, where he is noted to have worked in 1595.4 years later he is recorded as living in Cambridge, when his first bell there was cast.He continued to work until 1613/14 when, aged 62, he settled in Hertford to be closer to his son Robert, and where he also died around 1625/6. Robert Oldfield, the eldest son born in Nottingham in 1572, either travelled with his parents or joined them somewhere en route before settling in Hertford, where he also cast first bell in his own right in 1605.It seems that he worked until 1640 and died, aged 68, in ca. 1649. Out of the initial three bells once in the belfry only one remains, bearing a name of Robert Oldfield and an inscription, “Praise the Lord”.I do not think we would be far off the mark to associate “our” bellfounder with the Hertford’s Robert Oldfield.The bell was found to be cracked in 1957 and was sent for welding.At the same time, the worn timbers in the bell pit were replaced. When the Caldecote Church Friends assumed care for the church, we found the bell resting on some timbers within the tower: the wood of the bell frame was too damaged to deem it safe to hang and ring the bell.However, 2017 started auspiciously, with a long-awaited visit of the Friends of Friendless Churches architect to carry out a thorough inspection of the tower interior including the bell frame.The findings were encouraging: the bell cradle would require work as some of the timbers have decayed but overall it was pretty sturdy: the piece actually holding the bell, replaced in 1957, still held fast. So, it looks as though it will not be long before the bell will again delight us with its ringing: “O what a tranquil scene Sings the bell of St Magdalene ….” Grazyna Notes: George A Dawson (2002). Richard and Robert Oldfield, Bellfounders.