At the end of February we were visited by members of The Browning Society, a group of bell ringers from across the country who are also members of local ringing associations. The society’s name is a loose reference to Robert Browning’s work ‘Of Chechen Bells and Pomegranates’.
The society organise two tours of church towers each year – February half term and during the summer. In addition to visiting the usual peals of bells, the also like to include something out of the ordinary such as chimes of bells and single bells like ours, which is hung for ringing.
We can trace the history of our bell back to Middle Ages. There were originally three bells, but following the dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1541, Henry VIII’s Chantry Commissioners turned to some of the churches. They confiscated two of the bells with a combined value then of £4:2:6d (or £4.13) along with an 8oz silver chalice, 2 vestments and some land.
The remaining bell was recast by Mears and Stainbank (better known as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London) in 1866 and it was then rehung on the original bell frame. It was recast again in 1924 by John Taylor in Loughborough and then hung on a new bell frame. The bell weighs 11cwt, 3 qtrs and 21 lbs (606kgs) and sounds the note of G.
The Browning Society enjoyed their visit to the church and commented on the great quality of the ring tones how beautifully the bell rang.