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.”
What a treat to have 8 bells a ringin’ yesterday thanks to our local band members: Marguerite, Judy, Robert, Bobbie, Jody and our guest visitors from the UK: Maddy, Verity and their Mom Julia.
On Sunday’s the Brett girls first ring at St Michael’s the Archangel (1821) in Devon by the sea, and then walk 10 minutes (rain or shine) over to St James to ring again. They spoke of the St James (oldest building in Teignmouth) bells having to be rung from the ground level which makes the ropes so unweildy that they call their ringing sessions “Battle the Bungy!” Imagine.
Interesting read on the closing of the foundry that cast the Miami bells. The bells depicted above are in the belfry of St Michael’s Church and are more than 250 years old. They have endured war, earthquakes and hurricanes. Where will bells go to be repaired now?
We had a good turnout for band practice last night with Rob in town, Pamela (her last visit this trip), Judy, Marguerite, Jody, Robert and Ken. We practiced Plain Hunt on 4 and 5 with some change ups within. We attempted a bit of the “Bastow Little Bob Minimus” method as well – not so simple! Check out the description from Thomas (our former bell tower Captain): “Bastow is a handy method for small bands. The treble alternates between two blows in seconds and two blows in leads, even simpler than Plain Hunt. The remaining three bells dodge at the back, lie back, dodge, and hunt in to leads and out again without dodging.” http://www.thomasalspaugh.org/pub/crg/bastow4.html
Please note that the AGM annual conference will soon be held in Toronto, September 1-4, and their 12 “Waterloo Bells” have quite a history. (photos below of St James)https://stjamescathedral.ca/worship/change-ringers/
What a fantastic time we had with all 8 bells ringing! Thank you to Bobbie, Judy, Marguerite, Robert, Jody, Antonina, Kemp and Pamela for the lovely Service Touch. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you Kemp and Pamela for their continued dedication and for making the long drive each way each time they are able to join us in the bell tower. Their advanced knowledge and camaraderie are truly appreciated and valued in our efforts to move the band forward.
We also want to thank Kemp for his extra time and expertise in offering hand bell lessons at the tower. Antonina’s guest, Cecil from FSU, was truly “touched by the bells” and thrilled to have had the opportunity to “give it a go” on both the hand bells and a rope/change bell. Monday night practice with Pamela was an added treat with her conducting us through dodging and kaleidoscope.
It was our pleasure to host guest bell ringer from England – Mary Holden, with Marguerite, Bobbie, Robert, Jody, Phil and Kimberly in attendance. Mary was kind enough to steady the ship by conducting Call Changes on 7, and then we continued to joyfully “carry-on” practicing Plain Hunt on 4 with Bobbie and Bob Minimus on 5 with Mary, Jody, Marguerite, Kimberly and Phil, with Bobbie and Robert “steady-behind” on 6 and 7.