Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Tales of Old . . .

Hi Chris,

I have recently been reading Paupers and Pigkillers. The Diary of William Holland, a Somerset Parson, 1799-1818. Attached are some extracts relating to Bell Ringing. I enjoyed them and thought your readers may also enjoy them. It seems little has changed in 200 years.

Tim Pinner, Badsey

Tues Jan 1st 1805.'They did not ring in the New Year which surprised me very much.'
Thur Dec 5th 1805.'This is the Thanksgiving Day for Nelson's Glorious Victory. - Our Bells were ringing all this day.'
Sun Dec 7th 1805. 'I understand that Mr Amen has been at Ely Green drinking out the money they received for Ringing on Thanksgiving Day. Instead of ringing all the rejoicing Night they left off at five and divided the money and went to different places to drink it. This is not right and I must see to the matter.
Thur Jan 1st 1807.'The Ringers begun so early this morning that our sleep has been much disturbed.'
Fri Jan 1st 1808.'The Bells ringing from five o'clock.'
Sun Dec 31st 1808.'The Bells are merrily Ringing out the Old Year.'
Mon Jan 1st 1810.'The Old Year was rung out and the New Year rang in tolerably early this morning.'
Tues Mar 27th 1810.'Our ringers were ordered to ring the Bells for Mr Crosse who has taken the Park Cottage (as they call it) and brought his wife home.'
Mon Nov 5th 1810.'We had Bell Ringing this morning being the Fifth of November.' *
Thur Nov 5th 1812.'I was awakened this day by the Ringing of Bells.' *

* Thanksgiving for the Discovery of Guy Fawkes. The Service was appointed by an Act of Parliament of 1606.
Fri Sept 5th 1817.'The Bells ring merrily this morning. On enquiry I find John Morle married a Miss Rollins of Stowgurcy.

What a delightful entry for Dec 7th 1805. I can't think that sort of thing would have occurred in our area . . . . . .

Ringing at 5am on 1st January! Good cure for bad heads? The ringing of bells seems to have occurred far more often in years gone by. For example, records of Evesham Bell Tower show there was ringing averaging 5 hrs each day for 21 days in 1838 for the canvass and poll of the Evesham Parliamentary Election, for which the ringers were paid £40 amongst them (and a good dinner every day, too!).

Interesting to see the entries about ringing on Nov 5th. When I learnt to ring at Ebrington in the early 1960's, there was ringing on Bonfire Night - but in the evening. This practice ceased some years ago. Did any other tower ring on Nov 5th in recent times; and does it still? The Act of Parliament requiring ringing and rejoicing was repealed in 1859. Ed.