We have an active band of bell ringers at St Mary's led by our Tower Captain, Carol Donnelly, which rings the bells in the traditional change ringing style. We ring before the Sunday morning service from 10.30am to 11am and on special occasions we may ring a Quarter Peal. The bells are also rung on New Year's Eve and for major state occasions. The tower has achieved success over many years in striking competitions organised by the Bedfordshire Association of Church Bell Ringers. Visitors are always most welcome to join in our ringing and we look forward to meeting you.
We meet for bell ringing practice on Tuesday evenings from 8pm to 9pm and new ringers are always welcome, experienced or otherwise: we're keen to teach new ringers of any age, so please do come along and join us!
We have a database of all Peals, Quarters and 720s rung on the bells since the early 1930s:
Some records may also be found on the Ringing World BellBoard.
The first mention of bells in the tower was in 1615 when one was said to have been cracked. The bells were cast in 1628, 1638 and 1650. In 1750 the 7th (old 4th) was recast as it was cracked. The Tenor was recast in 1877 after having been smashed and the four other bells were re-hung at the same time.
In 1931 a treble, cast by Mears and Stainbank of Whitechapel, was added to make a ring of six. Following the augmentation a change ringing band was formed and the first full peals on the bells were rung. In 1979 two new treble bells, cast by Taylor's of Loughborough, were added and sound control introduced.
The back six bells are housed in a wooden frame and the Treble and Second on steel beams above.
The table below shows how the ring of bells has developed over the years (the weight of the older bells is approximate).
|Treble||1979||4-2-11||26"||F||Given in memory of Lewis H. Bywaters Tower Captain 1931 - 1977. A. W. Newall, Vicar|
|Second||1979||5-0-18||28"||E||Given in memory of John Church for many years ringer at this church. P.R. Jewell, Tower Captain.|
|Third||1931||5-0-16||30"||D||A.M.D.G. George William Sanctuary, Schoolmaster 37 years Churchwarden. 21 years of Henlow. Died Dec. 19 1930 Youth, Manhood, Old Age Past, Come to thy Lord at last.|
|Fourth||1650||6-2-00||31"||C||Miles + Graye + made + me + 1650|
|Fifth||1628||7-0-00||34.5"||B flat||+ God Save our King 1628|
|Sixth||1638||8-0-00||35"||A||Miles + Graie + Fecit + 1638|
|Seventh||1750||10-0-00||38"||G||+ Thomas Trustram Churchwarden + cum Voco Venite + J. Eayre: St. Neots + 1750|
|Tenor||1877||14-2-00||42"||F||Re-Cast by J. Warner and Sons London. W. Holesgrove Vicar. (The old Tenor was inscribed Miles Graie Fecit 1638)|
Each year we have a ringing holiday weekend. Details of events from 2006 - 2009 are as follows, most recent first:
2009: Our outing this year took us to the Lake District. On Saturday we rang at Ambleside, Hawkshead, Crosthwaite and Kendal. On Sunday we rang at Carlisle Cathedral and then moved on to Thursby, Wigton and Penrith. On Monday we visited Greystoke and Keswick.
2008: This year we visited Warwickshire. On Saturday we rang at Brailes, Shipston on Stour, Wellesbourne, Leek Wootton, Stoke (Coventry) and Coventry Cathedral. Sunday was spent at Warwick, Leamington Spa and Kenilworth. On Monday we visited St Andrew, Rugby where we rang both set of bells.
2007: Our outing this year was to Northumbria. We rang at Newcastle Cathedral, Newcastle St. Matthew and St John, Morpeth Curfew Tower, Berwick Town Hall, Bamburgh, North Shields and some smaller villages. We also took time to visit Holy Island.
2006: This year's outing took us to Wiltshire. We rang at Bath Abbey, Devizes, Trowbridge, Bradford on Avon and some surrounding villages.
Our team of ringers came second in the county striking competition held in September 2007. The event took place on the light ring of bells at St Mary, Kensworth:
— Definitions provided by Anthony Smith