The Tower is one of the Abbey’s most striking features today, literally towering above the town and visible from miles around especially when floodlit at night. Historically the four massive pillars at the bottom of the tower and the stone arches they support to date from early Norman times. Everything above was built after 1288. We know that because the Norman tower collapsed in a serious fire that year and was rebuilt in Early English style in the mid-1300s. The four stone arches that rest on the pillars were at the centre of the cross shape of the Abbey before the nave was demolished. This important feature is known ‘as the crossing’. Unfortunately, like everything wear and tear has taken place and ‘the crossing’ needs restoration and probably some replacement.
Many consider the Abbeys lantern tower to be one of the finest in England, second only to Lincoln. The lantern tower is named such because openings in the tower walls let light into the church. The great Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott removed the bell-ringing floor from the tower so that the beautiful panelling in the tower could be seen from below. The tower is open to visitors each summer allowing people to appreciate the stunning views.
The Abbey’s famous BELLS have rung for centuries. They have a beautiful tone.
The current peel of eight bells was cast in Gloucester in 1729. The earlier bells were probably made or cast near the Abbey as their weight and size would have had a prohibitive effect on moving them.
The Abbey’s bells are highly regarded by those who listen and those who ring. It’s an exciting journey to the ringing platform, which includes a spiral staircase, through the roof space of the south transept along passages above the quire and then up an open metal staircase. The bells are above the ringing platform.
The Abbey wants to replace the bell frame, recast the bells to give a ring of ten bells while extending the ringing platform which allows safer use of the bells while preserving and celebrating the visual impact of the current platform. The plan again is to have access to the public more widely available.
The Carillion, which plays the Abbey's bells with hammers operated by an automatic mechanism, rather like a piano player roll, was installed in 1879 and played popular melodies every three hours between 9 am and 9 pm. It was a much-loved feature of PERSHORE, and its tunes could be heard throughout the town. It no longer works, but there is a great deal of excitement locally at the thought that it might be restored and play again.