THE BELLS OF ST.MARY’S GREAT LEIGHS
|CONTACT: Judy Goodrum 361656 if you wish to be a bell ringer as we currently do not have a team. For weddings we will bring in a visiting team|
Not many people can actually HEAR the bells of St Mary’s from their homes – that is one of the disadvantages of having our Church so far from the centre of the village BUT ring they do ring and have done so for generations.
We have a rare peal of 5 bells, which were cast from bronze in the churchyard by a Colchester man 370 years ago. Each bell is inscribed “Myles Gray made me AD 1634”- and they still ring true.
The largest bell weighs about 12 cwt and the smallest 5 cwt and they are hung in an oak frame for change ringing in an anti-clockwise circle, which in itself is rare. In fact we have a very unusual peal of 5 bells, rung anti-clockwise in an equally rare round tower. St Mary’s is one of just 6 round tower churches in Essex.
Watch a team of ringers performing in the tower by clicking below
We are affiliated to the Essex Association of Change Ringers and enjoy their social network.
We ring at weddings and other events when requested and at many church services but not every Sunday, so the commitment is not heavy.
Bell ringing is an interesting hobby for both male and female. We currently have members aged from early 20’s to 70’s and would welcome anyone from about 10 years upwards.
Why not make it an activity for the whole family? There is no music to read – you just need to be fairly fit and be able to count.
Practice night is THURSDAY 8-9pm.
THE CHURCH BELLS OF ESSEX by DEEDS & WALTERS 1909
LEIGHS GREAT St Mary the Virgin 5 bells
- 1.MILES GRAYE MADE ME M 1634 28in
- the same 30in
- the same 33in
- the same 35in
- the same 39in
Tenor 12cwt note G. (The mark M probably denotes the second Miles Graye.)
In 1749 there was ‘an agreement made at a Vestry meeting between the parishioners and Henry Finch to repair the great bell to put in a new crown staple and to mend the clapper and hang it again so as it is fit to ring, and the churchwardens to pay to Henry Finch two pounds ten shillings for so doing. (signed) Henry Finch’
(extract from Vestry Book. Essex Review 1893 p 223)
There was formerly a wooden house, the rent of which went towards providing ropes for the bells. It was called Bell Rope House and was the abode of Master Collins, the Parish Dog Rapper.(Essex Review 1894 p 203)
Death knell rung within 24 hours of death between sunrise and sunset; three strokes for male, two for female, 2nd or 3rd bell used for child, 4th for those between 12 and 20 years; tenor for adult.
At funerals, the same repeated for half hour, followed by continuous to;;ing when the procession approaches.
Change ringing for Sunday services when possible, before afternoon service in winter hymn tunes (such as The day is past and over) are often played on the bells. At 8am celebrations a ringer attends to ring the bell.
Ringing at 6am on Christmas Day, on New Years Eve, for weddings by request (change ringing at conclusion of ceremony); on special occasions of local and public interest eg on the afternoon of the annual Flower Show.
A set of Belfrey Rules was drawn up by the late Rector FB Guy DD.
Many thanks to the Rev A. Clark Rector
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THE BELL OF ST JOHN’S LITTLE LEIGHS
St John’s church has only a ‘calling bell’ which is rung before each service from the church floor.
It was cast by Miles Graye lll in 1675.
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THE BELLS OF ST. MARTIN’S LITTLE WALTHAM
CONTACT: Dennis Withams 01245 360380
to be added