Bellringers

The current band of ringers meet every Thursday at 7pm at St Mary’s Church, Elloughton.  If you are interested in joining us, please contact Alister on 07751474674 (after 6pm) or email andgoodwin@andgoodwin.karoo.co.uk

Visiting bands / ringers are always welcome.

St Mary’s Church, Elloughton – History of the Bells

It is not known when St Mary’s first had any bells.  The earliest reference indicates that in 1567, ‘two bells had been sold’, which implied there were two bells.  In the churchwardens’ accounts for 1710-13 there is reference to the existence of two bells.  It is stated here that the sum of 2s. 0d. was ‘spent when ye great bell wheel was finished’ and 1s. 0d. ‘spent when ye little bell wheel was mended’.  There was some trouble with the tower and bells at this time, as in December 1710 an additional assessment was laid on the parish ‘for repairing the bell chamber and making a new bell wheel and gudgeon which were broken by ye fall of ye bell’.

Two new bells were provided in 1790 according to the inscriptions which read ‘James Harrison Founder 1790 and William Ringrose, Churchwarden 1790’.  There is then some confusion because there is a record of three bells being in existence in 1809, but there is also evidence that a third bell was not in place until 1856.  This had the inscription ‘Warner and Sons, Crescent Foundry London 1856’.

In 1953 it was found necessary to renew the interior framework of the tower, the timber having been ravaged by death-watch beetle to the extent that the supporting frame was no longer safe.  The money for this work was raised by gifts and the efforts of parishioners and friends.  The bells were re-hung and used again in July 1954.

Ten years later the fire of 25th October 1964 brought them crashing to the ground.  Due to the constraints of funding, only the largest of the three bells was re-cast and re-hung for the Re-Hallowing of the restored church on 11th December 1965.  However, during reconstruction, the tower was strengthened and steel girders put in to accommodate a full ring of six to eight bells at some future date.  Thanks to the generous legacy (specifically for bells) of Mrs Barbara Taylor, who died on the 30th May 1972, this was achieved and the Hallowing of a ring of six bells took place on Saturday 15th December 1973.  The compliment of six bells was made up of the two remaining bells, pre-fire, being recast and three new bells were added.  These were taken from Holy Trinity (also known as ChristChurch), King’s Square, York and the old Butchers’ Guild Church of York at the head of the Shambles, which was pulled down in 1936.  These five bells were cast by J Taylor & Co of Loughborough.  The inscriptions on these bells have been reproduced in the casting and read as follows :

1693    TE DEUM LAVDAMUS
1681    JUBILATE DOMINO PSAL
1659    LAVDATE IAM QVIA BONVM ET AMAENUM EST PSALLERE NOSTRO

The particulars of the six bells are as follows :

.                       Diameter                     Weight                         Note
Treble              1’10½”                        2cwt.   2qr. 24lbs          G Sharp
                        571mm                        137.9kgs
Second           2’0”                             3cwt.   0qr. 9lbs             F Sharp
                       609.6mm                     156.5kgs
Third               2’1”                             3cwt.   0qr. 16lbs          E
                      635mm                        159.7kgs
Fourth             2’2”                             3cwt.   1qr. 18lbs          D Sharp
                      660.4mm                     173.3kgs
Fifth                2’4½”                          4cwt.   1qr. 10lbs          C Sharp
                      723.9mm                     220.4kgs
Tenor             2’8”                             6cwt.   1qr. 5lbs            B
                      812.8mm                     319.8kgs

The physical action of ringing a Church bell is a skill requiring the coordination of the eyes, ears and hands, part of the skill being to know when and how hard to pull the rope.  Even when the physical skill of controlling the bell has been absorbed, a ringer needs to learn the mathematical intricacies of change-ringing.  Since St Mary’s has six bells, change ringing is practised.  This is done by ringing each bell in turn down the scale and then, according to a pattern or method that each ringer memorises, the order in which bell is rung is altered.  Change ringing is a difficult art but over the years the bells of St Mary’s have rung to commemorate various events, often by guest ringers from elsewhere, although the church has its own band of bell ringers.  As a matter of interest, a full peal involving 5040 changes on St Mary’s bells would last for around 2½ hours!  It is recorded that one peal lasted about 5 hours at St Mary’s when a record length of 10,000 changes was rung!