Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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An Interesting Gravestone

Allen Turner writes about the interesting gravestone he came across in the church within the boundaries of the buildings comprising Hartpury College, near Gloucester. He says:-

Dear Chris
I am unsure as to whether a gravestone would be acceptable in the FGS Newsletter. It does raise a question as to how a bell could crush a ringer. As John Hale was a blacksmith, he might have been re-hanging a bell (I gather blacksmiths were often involved with bell hanging by manufacturing fittings, etc.
I feel there might be a bigger story to the incident than shown here. The headstone itself must have cost a small fortune.
Regards, Allen

The inscription reads:-

In Memory of
John Hale of this Parish Blaksmith
Who Deceased Septemb ye 9TH 1692
Aged 25Yrs 4 Months.

Loe here's (Interr'd) the Muses Passive Friend;
Their Noblest Science (Ringing) was his End.
His Actions Just, A Martyr of that Skill,
Crusht by A Bell twas Heaven's Sacred Will.
Melodious Bells delighting him on Earth,
Exchang'd Terrestriall for Celestial Mirth:
This fatal Stroke (in haste) did stop his Breath,
Lamented was his unexpected Death.

Bells can be nasty, heavy lumps of metal if treated incorrectly, and are very capable of killing or maiming. There have been a few instances of bells killing people. There was one very recently at Christchurch Priory in Hants, where a bell badly injured a ringer who was working on an upturned bell which, through poor communication to the ringer below, came round onto him. It is coincidental this issue carries a report of a ringer's arm being broken when caught by the rope. The energy contained in a moving bell is huge. Never underestimate what damage they can do. Ed - and the H&S Officer.