Bringing the Bells of St Mary’s Alive!
In 2019, Eardisland Church received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a project to celebrate the bells of St Mary’s. We are extremely fortunate to have a ring of eight bells which is known to be one of the finest in Herefordshire! Not many people know about the history of the bells, so we wanted to undertake some research which we could share with interested villagers and visitors. We also wanted to liven up the experience of visiting our church, by installing a unique audio-visual installation in the bell tower.
You can read about the bells’ history on our detailed history page and we hope you will visit our beautiful church to see the installation in person! In the meantime you can enjoy its sound and images in the video below!
The consecration of the present Ring by the Bishop of Hereford took place at 3pm on Saturday the 13th December 1952:
The previous bells had been taken down, re-cast and re-hung by the famous John Taylor & Co. Bell Founders & Bell Hangers, Loughborough. Later, in 1969, the inscriptions on the bells were recorded by F. Sharpe, F.S.A.; bells three to eight carefully incorporating the inscriptions from the preceding six bells.
Before 1952 there had been six bells since 1906 when bell no.3 was added. This was celebrated both on the bell itself and also on a commemorative board which hangs in the ringing chamber:
Record of many other rings of note are also celebrated there. Other memorabilia and photographs of the ringers exist, for example in 1952:
Before 1906 there is frequent mention in the Vestry Minutes, suggesting that, then as now, the bells were cherished, although there are occasions when the times when they were to be rung were restricted. Entries about routine maintenance abound, for example:
1755 Jan. 7 Paid for Mending the Bell 0-2-0
1806 Dec20th Paid for 2 setts of bell Ropes for 1805 & 1806 3-4-0
The Tower dates from 1760 when it replaced one which is reputed to have fallen in 1728 and in so doing had crushed the bells. These were then replaced at the expense of an anonymous lady parishioner. Certainly the five pre-1906 bells were inscribed to 1728, but there is, however, no hint of the tower having fallen in parish or diocesan records of that period.
This is in contrast to the rebuild of 1760 which is well recorded and which followed an application to the diocesan authorities to take down the tower to avoid damage to the nave roof and the bells were it to fall. This drawing by Thomas Dingley dates to circa 1683:
Since 1952 bell ringing at St Mary’s Church has actively continued. The Millennium was rung in by a few invited, non-expert, parishioners at the invitation of Leslie Evans, Tower Captain for many years until not long before his death in 2011 aged 98/99.
Our bells are widely accepted as being one of the best rings of 8 bells for many miles around and our own Dove’s Guide describes the ring as “superb in every possible way”.
If you live locally and would like to have a go at bell ringing, please contact our Tower Captain, Geoff Cowling (details on our contacts page). New learners, of any age or ability, are always most welcome.