Four new bells at Christchurch Priory Church, Hants, have raised the ring at this historic building to a peal of twelve - the second in the county of Hampshire and the forty-seventh in the British Isles. Christchurch had a peal of ten, but the trebles were no match for the glorious back eight, and thanks to the generosity of local donors it has been possible to dispense with the former trebles, and, by adding four entirely new bells, to provide an extended peal not only in keeping with the original octave, but worthy of the magnificent church, a building with which only Winchester Cathedral itself and Romsey Abbey in the diocese can vie. Two of the new bells have been given by members of the Druitt family and two by the Barron Bell Trust.

The work has been carried out by Messrs. Taylor and Co., of Loughborough, who have provided four bells of splendid tone which blend perfectly with the older bells, and the result is a very fine ring of twelve.

The dedication took place at a short service held on Wednesday evening last week. This was largely attended, and in the course of the service the Vicar (Canon W. H. Gay) and other clergy, members of the Church Council and choir proceeded to the ringing chamber, where Canon Gay recited the solemn words of dedication. Mr. F. Hopkins (chairman of the Barron Bell Trust), Mrs. Blair, Miss Charlotte Druitt and Mr. Herbert Druitt chimed the new bells, and then the full peal of twelve were heard for the first time.

Following the service a supper of celebration was held at the King’s Arms Hotel, at which there were present, in addition to bellringers from various parts of the diocese, many friends. In the chair was Canon W. H. Gay, supported by the Mayor of Christchurch (Alderman W. H. Tucker), the Rev. Shirley Price, Rev. C. H. Gilson, Rev. Dr. Potter, Mr. A. Troke, Mr. F. Hopkins, Mr. E. Denison Taylor (Loughborough), Mr. and Mrs. Walter Tucker, Mr. Alan Druitt (secretary of the Church Council), Miss Charlotte Druitt, Mrs. Blair, Mrs. John Druitt, Mrs. Cecil Locke, Mrs. Hopkins, Mr. David Llewellyn, Mr. and Mrs. Elliott, Mr. George Williams (Master of the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild), Mr. Wilfred Andrews (captain of the Winchester Band of ringers and the representative of the Diocesan Advisory Committee). The towers represented were Bournemouth, Brockenhurst, Milford, Loughborough, Lyndhurst, Ringwood and Exeter.


Mr. Elliott, chairman of the Christchurch District Bellringers, spoke of the pleasure all felt at the addition to their peal, and went on to introduce a matter which, he was sure, would give pleasure to all, and that was to make a presentation to Mr. George Preston. Mr. Preston had begun ringing in 1887, and over a period of 46 years had contributed distinguished service to campanology in general. He hoped to see Mr. Preston complete the round fifty; there was no reason why he should not. In detailing the merits of Mr. Preston’s career, the speaker mentioned the work done by Mr. Preston in securing bells for towers in the district, and his further efforts to see that they possessed a good ringing band, He handed to Mr. Preston a handsome eight-day Westminster chiming clock, saying it was a tribute from the ringers of the district, as a slight recognition of the splendid work he had done for bellringers generally.

Mr. George Preston expressed his great appreciation; it had come to him in the nature of a very great surprise, and for the moment words failed him. ‘I have done,’ he added, ‘what I could, but always in the nature of a labour of love, in fact, I am never happier than when I am ringing, and some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent in the Priory belfry.’

Canon Gay, in introducing Mr. Hopkins, of the Barron Bell Trust, said how much they were indebted to him. He would that he could meet the ‘opposite number’ of Mr. Hopkins, who would present an organ. ‘If,’ he begged his listeners, ‘you should hear of an “organ Mr. Hopkins,” pray let me hear of him.’ He also added his quota of praise to Mr. Preston.

Mr. F. Hopkins said that he was delighted to have been the means of helping to increase the bells. Christchurch possessed a beautiful tower and a beautiful edifice a cathedral in appearance, which was worthy of the finest peal of bells they could put into its belfry. The geographical position was fine, and the hills made a natural sounding board. He had a brother who was a sea-going man, and now he would be able to say when he heard the bells at sea, ‘Ah, there are the Priory bells ringing out from Christchurch, and somewhere in the town old Fred is “having one”’ (laughter).

He told briefly the conception and work of the Barron Bell Trust, and congratulated the Loughborough Bell Foundry on their work.

Mr. Alan Druitt, speaking on behalf of his sister, Mrs. Blair, said it gave her great pleasure to be able to participate in the increase of the Christchurch peal. He endorsed what others had said of Mr. George Preston, for ‘he has such a love and affection for the old belfry as few had shown.’

Mr. Denison Taylor, of the Loughborough Bell Foundry, said he hoped the work his firm had done was worthy of the town and its traditions. There were previously 46 towers in the British Isles with a peal of twelve. Christchurch made the 47th.

His Worship the Mayor expressed the very real pleasure it afforded him to know that during his tenure of office a full peal now embellished the tower. On behalf of the town he thanked the members of the Druitt family and the Barron Trust most heartily for their gifts. He added his thanks also to Mr. Preston and his ringers for the work they had done.

The Rev. Shirley Price commented that in listening to the peal he had heard a new note definitely, and he trusted that during his stay in the town he himself would be able to strike a similar new note of use and worth.- Mr. Walter Tucker added his word of praise, and the various ringers spoke of the excellence of the bells.


On Saturday the annual general meeting of the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild was held at Christchurch, when nearly a hundred members and visiting ringers enjoyed ringing on the new peal of bells.

The Master (Mr. George Williams) presided over the meeting, at which, among other business, it was decided to elect the full quota of Central Council representatives to which the Guild was entitled, and Mr. F. W. Rogers (general hon. secretary) and Mr. G. Pullinger (former hon. secretary) were elected, in addition to the Master and Mr. H. Barton. The other officers were re-elected.

The question of the transfer of five towers from the Portsmouth district to the Alton district was adjourned to a special general meeting to be held after the views of the Bishop of Portsmouth have been ascertained.

Five guineas was voted to the Davies Memorial Fund.

Service and tea followed the meeting.

A fuller report of the proceedings will appear in our next issue.

On Sunday the first quarter-peal on the twelve bells was rung by a representative band. This was 1,320 Grandsire Cinques by G. Preston (secretary of Christchurch District) conductor, 1, J. W. Faithfull (Southampton District) 2, J. S. Goldsmith (hon. sec., Guildford Diocesan Guild) 3, Mrs. R. Richardson (hon. sec., Lincoln Branch of Ladies’ Guild) 4, F. W. Rogers (hon. sec., Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild) 5, H. Barton (Central Council representative) 6, F. Sparshott (Christchurch District representative on Guild Committee) 7, R. Stone (chairman of Portsmouth District) 8, A. T. Greenwood (sec., Portsmouth District) 9, W. Fowler (Christchurch) 10, R. Richardson (Master, Lincoln Diocesan Guild) 11, H. Gillard (Christchurch) 12. It was the first actual quarter-peal of Grandsire Cinques by all the band.

The Ringing World No. 1111, July 8th, 1932, page 455