Bells and bell-ringers
If you have attended either the 9.30 am or 6.30 pm Sunday service at St Leonard’s you will probably have heard the bells ringing out as you approached the church. We have a fine peal of ten bells here, and an active, sociable band of ringers ring the bells twice on Sundays and after most weddings on Saturdays.
Historical records show that there were some bells in the tower in the 1400s. There is even a reference to an earthquake shaking the bells so much that they rang of their own accord in 1580. The same thing happened in April 2007. The bells were balanced in the ‘up’ position, ready for ringing on the Sunday, and two bells rang themselves ‘down’ as the quake occurred. Fortunately there was no damage to any of the ten bells.
In 1928 the existing eight bells were recast, and they proved to be excellent bells. But when, in 1991, a small crack was found in the tenor, the heaviest bell, an appeal was launched to raise funds and, in 1992, the tenor was recast and two extra lighter bells were added, hung in a new frame placed above the existing eight. Most of the work was carried out by the ringers themselves.
The bells are rung Sunday morning and evening and you are likely to hear them on summer Saturdays as they are also rung following most weddings. Usually an even number of bells is rung - often 6 or 8 - but at the main festivals especially the ringers ensure that enough are present for the whole peal of 10 to ring out.
The ringers practice on Friday evenings. If you are keen to see the bells and to have some of the intricacies of change ringing explained please contact the Tower Captain, Maureen Poole by email who will arrange for you to visit, probably on a practice night. Young and old can ring, and we have a sociable and enthusiastic band at St Leonard's. Please get in touch if you are looking to develop a new skill and if you have the commitment it will take.
The Parish of St Leonard, Hythe