In the little village of Abbot's Ann, Hampshire, the five bells hanging in the church tower have been restored to use again. The three treble bells, one dated 1729 and the other two 1607, have been recast, the remainder tuned and the peal rehung in new fittings in a strengthened frame. The work has been carried out by Messrs. Gillett and Johnston in a very satisfactory manner, the three recast bells making a good splice with the old fourth and tenor, the latter, in F sharp, weighing 9 cwt. 3 qr. 6 lb.
The old inscriptions have been reproduced on the recast bells, with the addition of "Recast by Gillett and Johnston, Croydon, 1939." It is probable that the founder at the recasting of the whole ring in 1607 was John Wallis, of Salisbury, who had a considerable business between 1578 and 1624. The old inscriptions are:-
1.- Fear God honovr the King. 1729. I C Harry Cole C W
2.- Hope well I W. 1607.
3.- Love God I W. 1607.
4.- Robert Wells, Aldbourne, Fecit. 1764.
5.- Feare the Lord. 1607. I W.
The restored bells were rededicated by the Lord Bishop of Winchester at a special service on Friday week. There was a crowded congregation, among those present being Mr. C. F. Johnston and the following representing the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild: Mr. G. Williams (Master), the Rev. F. S. H. Marle (hon. secretary of the Andover District), Mr. O. Smart (District Ringing Master), Mr. W. J. Holloway (District Representative on the Committee), Mr. W. Andrews (Winchester), Mr. W. T. Tucker (Eastleigh), etc. The service was conducted by the Rector (the Rev. H. E. W. Steedman).
In his address the Bishop said Hampshire had a wonderful tradition of bellringing and he hoped it would long continue. In no other coutry in the world would they find bells rung in the same kind of way and with the same native skill as in England. Many, when they went overseas, carried with them the memory of English bells.
Speaking of the Abbot's Ann bells in particular, he said they had behind them a wonderful history and it was not the first time they had been rededicated. In 1607 they were recast and no one knew how old the metal in them was. More important still, bells expressed the thanksgiving and prayers of the people of the parish for many years. Bells had their influence on architecture, history and religion. Sometimes they actually made history. Still more did they play their part in worship. They were installed to call people to the worship of God. When they felt inclined to stay at home on Sunday, let them think of the call of the bells. "Come to church come to church. " The bells were God's voice calling to the people. Bells helped people who were ill or infirm and could not go to church.
Bells could be a healthy force in a parish, and while he rejoiced with them that their bells were to ring out, he could not help remembering that there were places in the diocese in which there were not only no bells but no churches to which people could be called, as in the districts round Southampton, where there were populations from 10,000 to 20,000 without a church.
After the service various methods were rung on the bells.
Our summary of the Bishop's address is given by the courtesy of the "Hampshire Chronicle. "
The Ringing World No. 1483, August 25th, 1939, page 547