Our Church Bells
All Saints' Church, Basingstoke is unique in bell ringing history - the original nine bells were the only diatonic ring of nine hung for English change ringing. There are other churches with nine bells, but these do not form a "true" major scale. Performances on the bells in 1946 caused great controversy in the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, until the rules were changed in the 1970’s to allow peals to be rung on nine bells. A tenth bell was added in 2016.
The bells are rung regularly prior to the 10am Sunday morning service, and the ringers practice on Monday evenings. The bells are also rung for weddings, special events (both local and national) as well as when ringers perform peals and quarter peals.
About the Bells:
The bell tower stands on the south east side of the church. Beneath the ringing chamber is the church's organ. The original nine bells were donated by Lt-Col John May, a great benefactor to the town of Basingstoke. A brass plaque in the Memorial Chapel at the base of the tower records this gift. In March 2016 a new tenth bell (cast by the Whitechapel Bellfoundry) was added to mark the centenary of the casting of the original bells.
The original bells were cast in 1916 for All Saints' by Mears & Stainbank of London (now the Whitechapel Bellfoundry). The tenor was 3' 6¾" in diameter and weighed over 11cwt (11. 3. 22) The original records of Mears & Stainbank show that Lt-Col May paid for the bells and that The Revd W Boustead placed the order for a "ring of eight bells with the note above". The bells cost £444 and with the frame, equipment and fitting the final bill was £696. The bells were re-hung on ball bearings in 1980 by Eayre and Smith, and again in 2000 by the Whitechapel foundry when they were tuned.
For the centenary of the All Saints' bells casting in 2016, the ringers made a proposal to augment the existing nine bells to ten by the addition of a new treble (lightest) bell. The ringers felt that the additional bell would give more scope for teaching new ringers as well as offering new possibilities on higher numbers.
The project cost around £25,000 and was made possible through a number of donations and grants. The new bell was cast on 22nd January 2016 and a special dedication service was held on Sunday 6th March 2016. Whites of Appleton started working in the tower the following day and the ring of ten bells was heard for the first time on Friday 11th March. The first recorded performance on the ring of ten was a quarter peal of Grandsire Caters, rung by members of the Sunday service band.
|1||3-1-21||1801.0||A||23.63"||2016||Whitechapel Bell Foundry|
|2||3-1-23||1599.0||G||24.50"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
|3||3-1-19||1420.0||F||25.50"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
|4||3-3-8||1340.5||E||26.75"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
|5||4-2-11||1194.5||D||28.75"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
|6||4-3-11||1063.5||C||30.25"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
|7||5-3-7||948.0||Bb||32.75"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
|8||6-2-17||894.5||A||35.00"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
|9||8-2-13||797.5||G||38.50"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
|10||11-0-6||710.5||F||42.75"||1916||Mears & Stainbank|
The All Saints' ringers are always keen to find new recruits to join their band. Anyone over the age of 11, able to catch a tennis ball and manage the 45 steps to the ringing chamber, could be a bellringer. No musical ability is required, nor is a great amount of physical strength. Full tuition is provided, and above all, it’s free.
The ringers meet every Monday night between 7:30 and 9:00pm before seeking liquid refreshment the the nearby Bounty pub. The band regularly socialise together with outings (in 2016 to the ghost village of Imber on Salisbury Plain), and a number of other occasions including barbeques and New Year’s parties before ringing in the new year in the traditional way.
If you would like to come along and meet us, or even have a go, please email Adam Greenley, the tower captain.