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The Bells of St. Mary - Belchamp Walter

The 8 Bells in the belfry of St. Mary's Belchamp Walter are the inspiration for naming of the Village Pub, The Eight Bells.

The bells were last rung in 1923, there is an estimate for the repair work needed for the bells in the Essex Archive dated 1929. It would be interesting to know how much the repairs would cost now in 2021!

The quote and the listing of the bells, with their inscriptions, were taken from the Belchamp Walter Village Hall website. It is not known who is the author or the source of the information. I have left the inscriptions below as I found them as it is likely that they would have been in capital letters and possibly mis-spelt. I do this as I have not actually confirmed this (I may be able to later) but the person posting the information as I found it is known to scan text and not proof-read it!

In the tower is hung a fine peal of eight bells, it is thought that the bells were augmented to six in 1774 and to eight in 1778.
The first known peel from the eight bells was one of “Oxford Treble Bob Major on the 8th January 1781.
The last recorded peal was a peal of Plain Bob Minor on the 1st February 1913, they were rung for the last time in 1923 because of the condition of the fittings and the oak timbered frame was unsafe.
The only remaining peel board records a peal of Kent Treble Bob Major rung on the 11th June 1882.
The bells were later adapted for chiming.

St Mary's Church belfry

There is a Peel Board in the "Silence Chamber", the first floor of the tower. This was where the bell ringers would have rung the bells, the ropes would have decended into this room. The Peel Board is largely uniteligible and is located on the South wall of the tower behind the ropes for the chiming mechanism. You can see the underside of the belfry, where the main bell ropes would have been and the chiming ropes now go.

The eight bells are inscribed as follows;

  1. Treble Bell – CUM VOCO VENITE:……..T. OSBORN DOWNHAM NORFOLK FECIT. 1782. (INCISED)
  2. 2nd Bell – CAST BY JOHN WARNER & SONS LONDON Ltd. REVd SAMUEL RAYMOND 1778 RECAST 1891 REVd J.M. St. RAYMOND LAY_RECTOR REVd F.W. PELLY_VICAR.
  3. 3rd Bell – PACK & CHAPMAN OF LONDON FECIT. 1774 THE REVd SAM. RAYMOND (INCISED)
  4. 4th Bell – C & G. MEARS FECt. 1844.
  5. 5th Bell – THOMAS GARDINER CAST VS THR-E 1712.
  6. 6th Bell – PACK & CHAPMAN OF LONDON FECERUNT 1780.
  7. 7th Bell – RECAST BY JOHN WARNER & SONS LONDON 1871 +.(on waist) Revd J>M> St. CLERE RAYMOND LAY RECTOR CHAs ADAMS ) ROB FIRMIN ) CHURCH WARDENS 1871 + E.W. DOWNS HUNG ME.
  8. Tenor Bell – JOHN MAYNE ESQ KENSINGTON MIDDLESEX FEB: 9. 1781: THOs OSBORN DOWNHAM FECIT.

Key to Inscriptions

Quote from Sudbury Historical Society:

The period where churches were being desicrated by the Puritan Movement church bells survived but the ringing of them was serverly curtailed.

After this period the interest in bell-ringing grew and there was a "heyday" for bell founder and foundries.

Thomas Gardiner inherieted Hanry Pleasants foundry down by Baliingdon Bridge. The new barge traffic, around 1710, on the Stour proved to be an asset. However, Gardiner's bells were "average to good, none were outsanding but othrewise none were bad"

The bell ringers were reknown in their smoking and drinking. This was possibly the reason that the Ellacombe Apparatus was invented. The Sudbury Historical Society recounts stories of the campanologists activities and there are "relics" of their drinking paraphernalia.

Gotches

8 Bells pub

Ellacombe apparatus

See my page on this.

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