This charming and historic church “Saint Andrews Parish, Witham on the Hill” is where our dear Pamela rings locally when home in Lincolnshire, England.
“The bells, a very fine six, are two floors higher in the bell chamber, where you see the louvred arched windows. The treble is cast from metal of the bells of Peterborough Cathedral which were removed in the mid-19th century as they were shaking off the fine west front. There is a much lighter ring of 12 installed there now (the cathedral, that is) and it’s where I used to ring on a Sunday morning for service… it’s a 200-step climb to the ringing room.
The original Witham church tower collapsed in 1736 during ringing practice. The ringers had paused for a pint at the pub, then across the road and decided to stay for a bit before resuming ringing. That saved their lives, as it was during that second pint that the tower collapsed. Who says drink is bad for your health!
The five bells were saved and rehung and in 1831 (and again in 1962) they were recast and it was at this point (1831) that the new treble was added, the donor being the local squire and resident of Witham Hall, William Augustus Johnson (who, just as a point of interest, had fought in the Peninsular War). Nonetheless, he was an eccentric anti-monarchist who had the following inscription cast into it:
Twas not to prosper pride or hate
William Augustus gave me
But peace and joy to celebrate
And call to prayer to Heav’n to save ye;
Then keep the terms, and e’er remember
May 29 ye must not ring
Nor yet the 5th of each November,
Nor on the Crowning of a King
May 29 was Charles II’s birthday, Nov 5th was the date of the foiled “gunpowder plot.”
To the left of the external door to the tower is where people put their loved ones’ ashes and to the right of it is a bench I donated in memory of my parents, with their names engraved on the back. It means that Ringers waiting to ring for a wedding have somewhere to sit, as do people wanting to visit where they put ashes nearby.”