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The Parish Magazine of November 1891 reports that:
"It is not generally known that there was a Bell Foundry at Hungerford in the seventeenth century, but that such was the case appears from the following entry in Lambourn's Churchwarden's Book under date AD 1628-9:
- Paid for Thos Daunteney's charge at Hungerford when the bell was cast, 1s 6d.
- Paid Wm Payne for going to Hungerford one night to arrest the bell-founder, 1s 6d.
- Paid to the Bailiffe of Hungerford for his fee, 8d.
- Paid for charges at Hungerford at the castinge of the bell, 4s 9d."
In July 1978 a new ring of eight bells, cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, was installed in the tower of St. Lawrence's Parish Church.
A Potted History of Modern Bell Ringing:
"Minna" wrote the following article for CHAIN Mail, Jun-Sep 2015:
The bells are rung to call the faithful to worship, to celebrate weddings and births and in remembrance of lost loved ones and wartime sacrifice. As I write this a quarter peal of 45 minutes duration is being rung to celebrate the safe arrival of baby Alexander, the first child of Hungerford ringer Rebecca and her husband Rupert.
But how did ringing evolve to what it is today and was it always considered so quaint? Prior to the 14th Century most bells in churches and monasteries were hung on a spindle and simply 'chimed' by pulling a rope but ringers began to experiment with new ways of hanging the bell to get greater control. However, in 1536, the Reformation led to the dese cration of religious buildings and the removal of many church bells.
By the 1600s, churches began to rehang bells, adopting a new method of mounting bells on a whole wheel with the addition of a stay and slider to be able to 'set' or park the bell in the upside down position. The ringer could now rotate the bells 360 degrees and stop and start the ringing at will.
During the reign of James II (1633-1688) bell ringing became extremely fashionable amongst the aristocracy as it provided physical exercise and intellectual stimulation. In the rural churches, however, bands of ordinary ringers strived to outdo one another.
In the 1700s, in rural areas, standards of behaviour deteriorated with bell ringers described as layabouts and drunks. The ringers earned a few shillings for their services which was often spent in the village inn. Attendance at church services was considered no part of ring ing and swearing, smoking and a barrel of beer in the tower became normal. I can assure you that this occurs strictly outside the tower these days.
In Victorian times church leaders wanted to improve the standard of ringing, ensure good behaviour and encourage ringers to attend church services. Therefore, many churches had the floor of the ringing chamber removed and the ropes lengthened so that the ringers now performed in full view of the congregation. This can still be seen in many churches around the Newbury area today.
By the late 19th Century, women began to take up bell ringing. As more women became interested, the Ladies Guild of Change Ringers was formed in 1912.
During World War II all church bells were silenced, to ring only to inform of an invasion by enemy troops. Thankfully, since the end of the war, bells have triumphantly rung out across the land.
If you would like to join us in this uniquely British past-time then visit us in the tower of St Lawrence's at 19:30 on Wednesday nights or 09:30 on a Sunday mornings."
The Ringing Competition
Another article was written in the Sep-Dec 2015 edition of CHAIN Mail:
Just like all sports, Church Bell Ringing is competitive. And it is a sport! It requires physical exertion, split second timing, mental agility and dedication. So when the annual Newbury Branch Six Bell Striking Competition was announced, to be held at St Mathew's, Midgham, we pulled together a team of ringers to proudly compete on behalf of St Lawrence's, Hun gerford. The purpose of Striking Competitions is to promote ringing within the branch, to encourage bands to improve and to regard good striking, rather than complexity of composi tion, to be the primary aim.
The term 'Striking' refers to the quality of the ringing in terms of even spacing between each bell (clashes between bells are extremely bad form) and the tempo of the ringing. The com petition consists of at least one minute of rounds (all bells ringing in size order) followed by 240 changes of any method (where the order of the bells changes in a set sequence memorised by the ringers).
Our band rang Grandsire Doubles. It typically takes 2 seconds for six bells to ring a single round, that's only a third of a second gap between the ring of each bell, so you can start to imagine how challenging it is to maintain even spacing, especially with the added pressure of a competition and ringing on unfamiliar bells. And so it was that on the evening of the competition, our intrepid band grabbed their ropes, took deep breaths and pulled each of their bells over the balance in turn, while two judges listened intently to identify any faults.
Once all the bands had rung, the judges conferred and the ringers anxiously awaited the results. Judgement was announced, and with only 30 faults, our band had come a fabulous second place, beaten only by Thatcham with 24 faults. An excellent achievement!