The recast ring of eight bells at St. Lawrence’s Church, Alton, Hants, were reopened by members of the Winchester Diocesan Guild on Saturday May 1st. Members present included Mr. G. Williams (Master) and Mr. G. Pullinger (general sec.), and about 30 ringers from Aldershot, Bishopstoke, Bishop’s Sutton, Farnham, Guildford, North Stoneham, Seale, Wickham, Winchester and the local band. A very welcome visitor was Mr. J. H. Shepherd, of Swindon, complete with notebook and rule.
All the bells have been recast and hung in a new iron H. frame, on ball bearings, with new and modern fittings. The work has been carried out by Messrs. Gillett and Johnston in their customary excellent manner, and gave every satisfaction. The weight of the tenor is 18 cwt. 1 qr. 20 lbs. in E., and the total weight of the peal is 74 cwt. 15 lbs. The general opinion was that Alton now possesses an exceptionally fine ring of bells.
The reopening service was conducted by the Rev. C. E. Matthews, R.D. (vice-president) and the Guild form of service used. He gave a most interesting address on the origin and meaning of the use of bells, and the history of change ringing down to the present time. There was a large congregation present.
The ringers sat down to a sumptuous meat tea, provided by the generosity of Mr. H. P. Birrell (churchwarden). The Rev. F. R. Dawson (Vicar) presided, and was supported by Mr. H. P. Birrell, Mr. Bond, Dr. Leslie (churchwardens), Rev. C. E. Matthews and Mr. Cyril Johnston. Following tea speeches were made by the gentleman mentioned, and Mr. G. Williams, in reply, voiced the thanks and appreciation of the ringers.
Afterwards a move was made to the tower, and ringing enjoyed up to 8 p.m., the methods rung being Grandsire and Stedman Triples, Bob, Kent Treble Bob, Cambridge and London Surprise Major.
It is interesting to note that change ringing has been practised in Alton from an early date, and two peal boards record that peals of Grandsire Triples were rung on the bells on March 7th, 1777 and on February 15th, 1785. It is believed that the former was the first peal rung in the county. William Dyer, who was a subscriber to ‘The Clavis,’ took part in both these peals, and his descendants, who still reside in Alton, subscribed towards the work just completed.
As the opening clashed with the quarterly meeting of the Winchester District, at Fawley, the latter was postponed to June 5th. Due notice of this will be given in ‘The Ringing World.’
For evening service on Sunday, May 2nd, 1,260 Stedman Triples in 48 mins.: H. Perry 1, G. Pullinger 2, V. Lowton 3, G. Noakes 4, E. Ham 5, A. Evans 6, A. Hardiman (conductor) 7, H. Sutton 8.
The Ringing World No. 790, May 14th, 1926, page 295