Market Lavington Museum

Recasting the church bells


St Mary’s Church in Market Lavington has a tower with six bells.

In 1876 it was necessary to recast the bells and other work was done in the tower too, as recounted by the late Tom Gye, the tower captain for many decades. He wrote:-

When the bells were recast in 1876, a wealthy benefactor had a chiming (carillon) installed. I believe the same person donated the tower clock. When I started ringing in 1936 the bells were only rung for evensong, the most important service in those days. For matins, the four most senior ringers took it in turns to call the congregation with the carillon. For that the bells had to be fixed to stop them swinging. To enable this, the paid sexton had, every morning, to climb the tower stairs, fly the flag and apply the locking device to the bell wheels. After matins he had to climb the stairs again and unlock the bells ready for evening ringing. The chimers were paid ten shillings annually, which I think came from a charity set up by the carillon donor.

The bells had to be removed from the tower and sent away to Llewellyn and Jones, bell founders in Bristol. There was a huge celebration when the bells were rehung in the church in 1877, which we will look at in our next blog entry.