RESTORATION OF BELLS AT HURSLEY, HANTS.

The bells of Hursley (which benefice possesses such an interest as having been held by the author of The Christian Year), have lately been restored. The old five bells had been badly hung (probably by some village carpenter or smith) many years ago. They have now been re-hung by Messrs. Hooper and Stokes, of Woodbury, Devon. A new treble bell, by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank, of the old foundry, Whitechapel, has been added; the ringing-chamber has been raised in height and put into order. Seage’s silent apparatus has also been affixed.

On Feb. 11th, the Winchester Cathedral ringers rang some Grandsire Doubles, the first that are known to have been rung in the tower.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record No. 2, March, 1881, page 9

HAMPSHIRE’S NEW EIGHT.

HURSLEY BELLS DEDICATED.

On Saturday, May 19th, the augmented peal of eight bells at Hursley, Hants, was dedicated, the service being conducted by the Rev. C. E. Matthews, vice-president of the Winchester Diocesan Guild, and Rural Dean of Lyndhurst. Mr. Matthews was formerly curate at Hursley, 1896-99, since which time he has been Vicar of Bursledon, and of Titchfield, and is now Vicar of Milford-on-Sea. In the course of the service and during the singing of the hymn, “The church bells ringing from the height,” the clergy and choir proceeded to the western tower. Here the Vicar (the Rev. J. R. Husband) asked the Rev. C. E. Matthews to dedicate the bells “to the glory and praise of God.” Mr. Matthews and the Vicar ascended the tower to the belfry, where the dedicatory prayers were said; also the prayer appointed by the Guild, after which three bob leads of Grandsire Triples were rung, while the choir and clergy returned to the chancel, the service being resumed. The Rev. C. E. Matthews then gave an excellent address, basing his discourse on the words, “There are so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification,” 1 Cor. xiv. 10. Following the address, a hymn, “The sacred bells of England,” composed by the Rev. C. E. Matthews, was sung, and the service closed with the Blessing. Afterwards touches of Grandsire and Stedman Triples and Bob Major were rung.

Tea was kindly provided by the Vicar, ringers being present from Bishopstoke, Bindfield, North Stoneham, Romsey, Winchester, and the local band, and Mr. C. Dean from the Croydon Foundry.- Mr. W. T. Tucker apologised for the absence of Mr. G. Williams, Master of the Guild, and Mr. W. Andrews thanked the Vicar for his hospitality. Further ringing took place in the evening, including two courses of Treble Bob.

The new treble has been given by Sir G. A. Cooper, Bart., of Hursley Park, and the 2nd by Mr. F. W. Talbot, of Pitt, Hursley. The 3rd and tenor have been recast, and the latter is now 14 cwt. in F sharp, being 2 cwt. heavier than the old bell. Of the rest, the 4th and 5th were cast in 1835 by W. and J. Taylor, of Oxford, and the 6th and 7th in 1616. These two bells bear the inscriptions, respectively. “Prayse God. I.W.,” and “Give thanks to God. I.W.” The previous tenor was cast in 1713. The back six are hung in the old frame, which has been strengthened, the new trebles being in an iron frame. The whole work reflects great credit upon Messrs. Gillett and Johnston, who have executed the contract, and Hursley possesses one of the finest peals of eight for their weight in Hampshire.

The Ringing World No. 637, June 1st, 1923, page 343

Hursley - now a ten-bell tower

The tower of the present Church of All Saints, Hursley, is the only part remaining of the mediæval church built probably by William Edyngton, Bishop of Winchester, 1346-67, or his successor, William of Wykeham, 1367-1404. The present church is the third on the site. It was built in 1848, replacing a brick building which in turn replaced a yet earlier church thought to be Norman in about 1750. The present church was built by the Rev. John Keble from the proceeds of two books, the Lyra Innocentum and the Christian Year, and cost £3,380 for the structure and £1,200 for the woodwork, flooring and other interior fittings. This sum was exceeded and augmented by offerings from various friends. As part of this work, the tower which had survived the two previous churches was faced in the same Gothic style as the new church. It was surmounted by an elegant spire at a cost of £800 and was unfortunately removed in 1960.

Somewhat vague

The history of the bells is somewhat vague because almost all the old church records have been destroyed in recent years. The present bells Nos. 8 and 9 were cast by John Wallis of Salisbury in 1616; a tenor of about 12 cwt was added in 1713 by Will and Rob Cor; then the present 6 and 7 in 1835 by W & J Taylor of Oxford. They became six in 1880 when, to quote the Bell News, they were “rehung by Messrs Hooper and Stokes of Woodbury, Devon (in the present oak frame). A new treble bell by Messrs Mears and Stainbank of the old foundry Whitechapel had been added; the ringing chamber has been raised in height and put in order. Seagar’s silent apparatus has also been afixed. On 11th February 1881 the Winchester Cathedral ringers rang some Grandsire Doubles - the first that are known to have been rung in the tower.”

Mahogany boards

The bells had to wait another nine years for their first peal, which was 5040 Minor in five methods; this peal was rung for the Sussex County Association and conducted by George Williams on 26th December 1890. The local band were quite active at this time as there are beautiful mahogany peal boards recording 720s of Grandsire Minor and Plain Bob rung in 1902 and 1903 respectively. The unveiling of the board for the 720 Grandsire Minor took place on 30th April 1902 and was recorded in the Bell News, as was the opening “peal” rung on the restored ring at nearby Sparsholt by the Hursley band. A surviving notebook records ringing for various events during the 1914-1918 War.

Augmented to eight

In 1923 the bells were augmented to eight by Messrs. Gillett and Johnston who hung two new trebles in a wrought-iron frame beside the wooden one. At the same time the 1890 treble and 1713 tenor were recast. All the bells were hung on ball-bearings - the back six retaining their wooden headstocks. In 1979 funds were raised by the band with which to rehang the back six; iron headstocks, wheels and all the other necessary parts were purchased from Whitechapel Bell Foundry and erected by some of the ringers. The first peal on the eight being rung on Saturday, 29th December 1923, of 5024 Double Norwich Court Bob Major in 3 hours 20 minutes, and again conducted by George Williams.

Scheme revived

Emboldened by the success of this rehanging, a scheme for augmentation to ten was prepared, and after various disappointments the scheme was revived in 1987. The necessary funds were raised quite quickly, thanks to the organising genius of Philip Belgeonne. The work was entrusted to Whitechapel Bell Foundry and a small party went to London on 18th May to witness the casting of the new bells. Installation work started on 17th July and it was carried out by Philip Jakeman, Martin Waldron and volunteers from the band, taking three weeks to complete.

In the belfry a massive pre-fabricated steel frame was erected above an existing frame. The 1923 Gillett and Johnston frame was removed, galvanised and replaced, and the new trebles were hung in this frame and (using the new notation 1 to 10) the third went up into the new frame, the fourth below (in the former third’s pit), the fifth up above the sixth which was turned side-for-side and re-roped, as was the seventh; the eighth was roped from the other side of its wheel and a very good circle was formed.

An interesting point to note is that there is only 74 lbs weight difference between the treble and seventh bell.

The bells were first rung on Friday, 18th August, and were pronounced to be a perfect match. The new trebles are excellent specimens of the founder’s art, being finished in gleaming black lead. The treble has a most attractive moulding of a vine encircling it between the two top wires.

To date there have been 63 peals at Hursley, one on the six and 62 on the eight, 51 of them being rung since 1971 when the present band started to form.

Dedication Service

After much last-minute activity, the ringing room looked magnificent with new paint and polish and all the peal boards back in their rightful places, the trophy for the Winchester District six-bell striking competition and village general knowledge quiz in a prominent place. A framed record showing the names of the Institution, Overseas Societies and individuals, as well as ringers and parishioners who had contributed towards the cost was also on display; but there were many donations from others who wished to remain anonymous.

The Rev. Dr. Arthur Moore, Vicar of Hursley, officiated at the Service of Dedication, attended by some 120 invited guests, which included the principal officers of the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild and those who had helped to make the augmentation possible. The service was preceded by the local band ringing rounds and call-changes on the eight and followed by the same on the new ring of 10.

The Hursley band entertained all the visitors to tea and other beverages in the hall nearby. A suitably-decorated cake was ceremoniously cut by Mrs. Jessie Kippin. The only formality remaining was for Tower Captain Martin Waldron to present the principal fundraiser, Philip Belgeonne, with a miniature Whitechapel handbell, suitably inscribed. Open ringing on the ten concluded an enjoyable and satisfying day.

A quarter peal of 1277 Grandsire Caters was rung on Sunday, 1st October (the day following the Dedication) by members and friends of the Hursley band: B Lovelock treble, Jessie Kippin 2, C H Kippin 3, A G Craddock 4, I McCallion 5, J S Croft (C) 6, M K Waldron 7, B S Purvis 8, A P Smith 9, P Belgeonne 10. 1st on 10 for B Lovelock and P Belgeonne.

Visitors are always welcome. Practice night is Friday, 7.30-9 p.m. Sunday ringing: 9 a.m. (3rd), 10.15 a.m. (others), 5.15 p.m. (1st).

No.NoteDia.cwtqrslbs
1A#23 5/16"323
IN MEMORY OF ‘MEG’ WALDRON 1914-1987
WHITECHAPEL 1989
2G#24 3/16"3210
THE GIFT OF CHARLES & JESSIE KIPPIN
WHITECHAPEL 1989
3F#25"3223
PRESENTED BY SIR G. A. COOPER BART.
OF HURSLEY PARK 1923
4E#25 ½"3224
PRESENTED BY FREDERICK WILLIAM TALBOT
OF PITT IN THIS PARISH 1923
“LAUS DEO”
5D#27"3324
“VENITE EXULTEMUS DOMINO”.
MEARS & STAINBANK FOUNDERS LONDON 1880
RECAST. GILLETT & JOHNSTON. CROYDON 1923
6C#29"4021
W & J TAYLOR. OXFORD. FOUNDERS 1835
7B29 ¾"4022
W & J TAYLOR. OXFORD FOUNDERS 1835
8A#33 1/8"6211
PRAYSE GOD I.W. 1616
9G#36 5/8"8023
GEVE THANKS TO GOD I.W. 1616
10F#42"1400
ME RESONARE JUBENT PIETAS MORS ATQUE VOLUPTAS
RICHARD FIELDEN & WILLIAM LAINSON CHURCHWARDENS
WILL & ROB COR 1713
RECAST GILLETT & JOHNSTON CROYDON 1923

55221

The Ringing World No. 4094, October 13, 1989, pages 917 and 936