Bells@Leytonstone

  • Bells Report - 2012

    We have a design fault on our two lightest and newest (installed 1936 ) bells. St. John’s started with six bells in 1833 and then was augmented to make eight bells. A ‘stay‘ is a long piece of wood, curved or straight, that stops the bell from doing a complete revolution. It is made of straight grain ash wood and is there for safety reasons both for the ringers and the tower. I’ve only had to replace one stay of the original six in over forty years of normal ringing but the stays on one and two are broken on a very regular basis. Over the years the ringers have paid for replacements, so we have bought six new ones for £70.

    The last major work that we know that was done on the bells was in 1936. We always do regular maintenance on the bells but no major work. The time is coming when the bells will need a major overhaul, with a major cost, including moving the clock if it needs to get the bells out.

    We have had two bell ringing outings in 2012. One in London, from Holborn to Pimlico, organised by Nathan and one in Essex to celebrate my forty years as St. John’s Ringing Master. The ringers also gave me a cross-stitch embroidery picture, made by June, of what happens when a stay breaks!!

    HEAVY METAL is the name we use for our presentation of bells and bell ringing and for a number of years we have put it on for the Leytonstone Arts Festival. In 2012 we added more history of our local past ringers. June our archivist has done some fantastic research on this and it is interesting how many of the ringers worked for the railway at Stratford. As it was a Charles Dickens celebration as well, John included an article written by Dickens about bells and bell ringing in London.

    Over the years we have rung for all the ‘Open days’ the Vicar has requested and 2012 was no exception, with two extras! One to celebrate the Olympics at Stratford and one for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Both were unique as I don’t think any of us will see the like of it again in our lifetime. The ringers also rung two ¼ peals for the Jubilee and ‘fired’ the bells 41 times (the ringers equivalent of a gun salute), to coincide with the Jubilee fly pass, which we watched as it flew over St. John’s.

    In a number of previous bell reports I reported on the bad state of the bell-ropes and we had more worries as we heard of long waits for new ones, sometimes up to two years. We knew that some of our ropes would not last that long so we decided to order new ones. Equally over the years we have done our homework on bell rope makers and went to a small family company of Peter Minchin. The surprise came with the unexpected promptness of completing the order and we have now almost replaced the old ones with new ones. The cost for eight ropes was £833.00 and was a gift paid for by the bell ringers. We now need two spare ropes and to get two repaired.

    We ring every Sunday from 10.00 to 10.30 a.m. for the morning Service and at least once a month for the 06.30 p.m. evening Service, we also ring for various other Services. We always need new ringers and can teach people to ring, so have a time for learners at 07.00 p.m. before the main Monday Practise Night of 07.45 to 09.15 p.m. which is always open to all ringers. As well a regular visitors from local ‘towers’, our furthest visitor in 2012 came from Australia.

    Kind regards,

    Michael (Ringing Master)

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Bellringing at St. John's Leytonstone

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