ARMISTICE DAY BELL PEAL

“Parent helpers wanted for Bellringing” read the email.  Rarely have I hit reply so swiftly. “Me, pick me!”  One of the great joys of having children is being asked to help out.  This time it was Explorers.  Bellringing, proper pulling on a rope Church bellringing has been on my to do list forever but a distinct lack of rhythm has always kept me away.  We climbed the narrow spiral steps to emerge into a room with eight dangling ropes and walls festooned with ornately painted boards such as first peal that rung in the tower and this one for the Armistice Day Bell Peal. 1400 bell ringers are wanted to take part in a centenary peal across the UK in 2018 to mark the end of the First World War. Why 1400? That is the number of bell ringers killed in the First World War.
Armistice Day Bell Peal
Christ Church Epsom was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield and built in 1876 but it was not until 1890 that bells came to the church tower.  They rang out every Sunday for a hundred years including for the wedding of George Frederic and Mary Watts.  Twentieth century technology showed that they were too big for the tower and in danger of causing the whole tower to fall.  It turned out that Holy Trinity in Hawley, Hampshire had the same problem and by good luck the bells at Christ Church were exactly the right size.  So the Epsom bells made the journey to Hampshire and the Hampshire bells went to Whitechapel Bell Foundry where they were melted down and new smaller bells cast for Epsom.  All of the new bells have dedications cast into them.
Church Bell
Getting the bells out in 1991 was complicated by the way down was obscured by a clock installed one hundred years earlier.  Trapdoors had to be cut into the floors to allow the bells down.  What I was unprepared for was just how big a church clock mechanism would be.
Church clock mechanism
This Sunday we will be at the Remembrance Day Service with the Explorers remembering those who fell.  No Armistice Day Bell Peal this year but my mind will dwell on my grandfather who survived four years in the trenches in France during the First World War and his younger brother Alec who died, aged 18, seven months before the war ended flying with the Royal Flying Corp.

Photalife

16 Comments

  1. November 12, 2017 / 1:07 am

    It is all so personal when you can trace such a direct line in your own family.

  2. November 12, 2017 / 1:46 am

    Isaac will be taking part in our local Remembrance Day parade. It’s so important that we retain the stories and memories of what the day represents and why we should never have to put a generation through the horrors of such a large-scale war ever again.

    • November 12, 2017 / 7:42 pm

      Completely agree, our service was rammed with kids

  3. November 12, 2017 / 6:37 am

    Hi Catherine, what a lovely inscription on the bells. We must never forget the price some people pay for war. If we do it becomes trivial and that would be so wrong.

    xx

  4. November 12, 2017 / 7:43 am

    I’ve always wanted to be a bell ringer too, although it looks like hard work.

    • November 12, 2017 / 7:44 pm

      It was brilliant fun but my complete lack of rhythm will, I fear hamper my future as a campanologist

  5. November 12, 2017 / 8:39 am

    I would be tempted to reply to such an email too. Quite a story about your family’s involvement in WWI. As ever, illustrated with great pics Catherine!

    • November 12, 2017 / 7:45 pm

      There were five brothers and only the youngest didn’t come home

    • November 12, 2017 / 7:45 pm

      Do all the lofts have such plaques in them?

  6. November 12, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    I’ve read about bell ringers and find it fascinating. Such dedication. A wonderful remembrance and you get to check off bell ringing on your wish list.

  7. November 12, 2017 / 3:43 pm

    What a wonderful thing to do, I think it is so important to remember those that died in conflict. #MySundayPhoto

  8. bavariansojourn
    November 12, 2017 / 8:39 pm

    I had no idea about the celebration in 2018, how wonderful. We cannot forget the sacrifice that was made for us. #sundayphoto

  9. November 14, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    Wow! Bellringing seems like so much fun, Catherine. Is this job challenging?

  10. November 14, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    I would love to try bell ringing although that Armistice peal sounds like quite an effort! So interesting to read about the bells being changed and I never realised the clock mechanism would be so big either. My little Explorer also took part in the Remembrance Sunday parade. So important to pass on the stories and remember those who gave their lives.

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