On Easter Eve, April 1st, a most interesting ceremony was held at the ancient, picturesque, and historical church of St. Nicolas at the above place, which is situated about two miles from Eastleigh, and four from Southampton, when the Right Rev. W. W. Perrin, D.D., Bishop of Columbia, dedicated a new peal of six bells, presented by G. Y. Mercer, Esq., of Bassett. The church was beautifully decorated for the Easter festival, and a large congregation gathered to witness the dedication at 6 p.m. The clergy and choir with their banner met the Bishop at the lychgate, and the rector, the Rev. E. Kenworthy-Browne, intoned the prayers. After the third collect, the Bishop spoke from the lectern, alluding to the additional responsibility laid upon the parishioners by the gift of a peal of bells, and as to the altered condition of the church. He then proceeded to the ringing-chamber, the ringers meanwhile having taken up their position, each by his bell rope, and on a signal being given, the bells were set in motion, and the choir sang the hymn “Upward raised an ancient tower.”
The church has undergone a thorough restoration work, including a new altar and organ by Bevington, the cost in all being £2,000, which has made it one of the most complete and beautiful in the Deanery.
The bells (consisting of three old and three new), are a light musical peal, tenor 7½ cwt., tuned in the key of A, supplied by J. Taylor and Sons, Bell Founders, Loughborough, and are hung in a pitch-pine frame, with cast-iron headstocks, each bearing a Latin inscription, the date on one of the old bells being 1623. The “go” of them is all that can be desired, and give great satisfaction in every way.
After the service the following members of the Winchester Diocesan Guild rang several touches of Grandsire Doubles: Rev. R. C. M. Harvey (Hon. Sec. of the Guild), J. Batts, W. J. Sevier, W. H. George, T. Groves, and J. W. Whiting; conducted by Messrs. Batts, Sevier, George, and Groves, respectively. On Easter Day before evening service, the following members of the Guild rang six touches of Grandsire and Bob Doubles, and after service two more touches of Grandsire Doubles, all called differently: J. Batts, W. J. Sevier, C. Tribe, T. Groves, W. H. George, and W. C. Lampard; conducted by Messrs. Sevier, George, and Groves. An attempt was made to ring a 720 of Bob Minor, but in consequence of the new ropes stretching very much, it had to be abandoned.
The Bell News No. 577, April 29, 1893, page 679
Although neither the day nor hour arranged for this joyful and interesting ceremony were not the most convenient that could have been chosen, on Saturday evening, December 4th, at 6.30 p.m., a small but representative body of worshippers met together in the ancient and beautiful church of St. Nicholas to witness the solemn dedication of two new bells, which now complete the octave. Preceded by the cross-bearer the choir entered the church singing hymn 242 A & M: “We love the place, O God.” Shortened service was sung by the Rector, Rev. E. Kenworthy Browne, special psalms were sung, and the proper lesson, Heb. xii. 18-end, was read by the Rev. C. E. Matthews, Vicar of Titchfield, and Master of the Winchester Diocesan Guild. After the third collect, the choir and clergy, with the Lord Bishop of Southampton, attended by his chaplain (Rev. A. Gunn), proceeded to the tower. Standing in the middle of the ringers, the bishop blessed and dedicated the bells to the glory of God. Immediately afterwards the local ringers, standing as follows; E. Mundy, A. Marks, W. G. Rowe, G. J. Fray, W. Rowe, sen., W. H. George, W. T. Tucker, and G. Williams, rang the bells six whole pulls. The choir and clergy then returned to the chancel, singing the hymn, “Upward raised in ancient tower, let our bells be set on high.” The bishop then gave a short and earnest address, based on Psalm l. 5: “Gather my saints together.” After explaining the meaning of the word “saints” as interpreted in the Old Testament and by St. Paul, he said the office of bells was to call people to prayer. They were used for other purposes, national and local, and were great valuable possessions in a parish. He hoped that their beautiful tones would keep alive, and touch the spiritual sensibilities of the parishioners, and so counteract in some measure that spirit of materialism which was such a continual danger in the Christian’s life.
Messrs. Barwell, of Birmingham, have supplied a new treble and tenor. The latter weighs just under 10 cwt., while the former is slightly heavier than the 2nd. The tenor has been fixed above the old peal, and the new treble occupies the pit of the old one. This arrangement was necessary in order to get a good circle. The inscriptions on the new bells are: Treble - “Venite Exultemus Domino”; Tenor - “Tibi gratias agimus, A.D. 1909.” The estimate for the work was £132, and Mr. G. Williams has been indefatigable in raising funds. No one was more delighted at the result than he was, and the parish authorities are to be congratulated upon the possession of such a handy peal. Mr. J. W. Elkins (District Secretary), and Mr. W. Andrews (Cathedral band), the Rev. E. Bankes James (Northam), L. H. Page (Titchfield), and others were present. Touches of Grandsire and Stedman Triples, Kent Treble Bob and Double Norwich were rung after the dedication service. It is unnecessary to add that with Mr. G. Williams as conductor, these bells will be kept humming merrily for many a long day to come.
The Bell News No. 1447, December 25, 1909, page 532
The two new treble bells, increasing the light eight at North Stoneham, Hants, to a ring of ten, are to be dedicated on Sunday at 11 a.m. by the Rector (the Rev. T. Salmon). The bells have been given by Mr. and Mrs. George Williams to commemorate their golden wedding.
This will be one of the lightest rings of ten in the country, the tenor being only 9 cwt. 26 lb. Since Winchester Cathedral bells were increased to twelve there has been only one ring of ten in Hampshire, namely, at Christchurch Priory, and these, if all goes well, will also soon be made into twelve, so that the addition at North Stoneham is not only an interesting personal gift from the first man and wife who took part in a peal together, but a timely augmentation for the Winchester diocese.
The Ringing World No. 1082, December 18th, 1932, page 812
MR. AND MRS. GEORGE WILLIAMS’ GOLDEN WEDDING GIFT.
On Sunday, December 20th, the two new treble bells given to North Stoneham Church by Mr. and Mrs. George Williams were dedicated prior to the morning service by the Rector (Rev. T. Salmon). The service commenced with the hymn, ‘Ring forth, holy bells,’ after which, Mrs. Williams being present, Mr. Williams said: ‘We offer these bells for use in God’s House, and ask you to dedicate them to His service.’ The Rector said: ‘We accept them in His Name, and will pray for a blessing upon you and your gift. In the Name of the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.’
Then followed prayers from the Guild service. While the choir, Rector and Mr. Alan Arnold (churchwarden) returned to their places, the following rang the bells in rounds: G. Williams 1, W. T. Tucker 2, W. Edwards 3, E. Dumper 4, J. Fudge 5, F. Griffin 6, W. Rowe 7, J. Rodwell 8, C. J. Fray 9, J. Dacombe 10. The morning service then proceeded, and the Rector gave an excellent address, taking as his text, Numbers x. 2, ‘Make thee two trumpet of silver.’
After the service, two courses of Grandsire Caters were rung by: G. Williams 1, W. T. Tucker 2, R. Paine 3, G. Pullinger 4, W. Edwards 5, W. Andrews 6, C. J. Fray 7, G. Noice 8, J. Hayward 9, E. Dumper 10.
The tone and ‘go’ of the bells are perfect, and to ensure a correct ‘splice’ between the new and the old bells Messrs. Taylor and Co. recast the treble of the existing eight. This part of the work was generously done gratis by the firm.
The two treble bells are inscribed, ‘1931. The gift of George and Martha Williams, married October 15th, 1881. Rev. T. Salmon, Rector, Alan Arnold and J. Goodier, Churchwardens.’
On each bell is also in Latin the words, ‘Praise to God.’
For evening service a course of Kent Treble Bob Major and three courses of Grandsire Caters were rung, ringing friends being present from Bishopstoke, Southampton and Winchester.
North Stoneham now possesses one of the lightest rings of ten in the country. The peal at Loughborough Foundry, with a 6½ cwt. tenor, is the smallest. Cudham, in Kent, has another very light peal, and North Stoneham, with a tenor of only 9 cwt. 26 lb., comes next.
The tower is built of stone, aid to have been brought from Quarr, near Ryde, Isle of Wight, in the fourteenth century. Six bells were placed in the tower by Messrs. Taylor and Co. in 1892, and they were increased to eight in 1909 by Messrs. Barwell, largely as the result of the efforts of Mr. Williams, who had raised a band at the tower. By this time ten peals of Minor had been rung. With the advent of the octave there was greater activity, and one after the other the standard and Surprise method were mastered, under Mr, Williams’ mature guidance, and peals rung. Indeed, North Stoneham tower has been known as the ‘Hampshire Ringing School,’ from the amount of instruction that has been given there. The one hundredth peal on the octave was rung on September 23rd, 1924, and many more have been added since. A new chapter in North Stoneham’s ringing history has now been opened by the further augmentation of the bells.
The Ringing World No. 1084, January 1st, 1932, page 9
SATURDAY, December 8th, dawned somewhat drear and drizzly, but in spite of such unwelcoming weather a large congregation gathered at the Church of St. Nicholas, North Stoneham, for the dedication of the recast bells. Of the 260 people who attended the service, about 60 were ringers from local towers and from places as far distant as Farnborough, Preston Candover, Salisbury, Bournemouth and Basingstoke.
The service was conducted by the Bishop of Southampton (the Right Rev. K. H. Lamplugh). The Rev. S. C. Wincott (curate of the parish) acted as Bishop’s chaplain, and the other clergy present were the Rector the Rev. W. F. Shail), Canon H. D. Cæsar (Rural Dean of Southampton), the Rev. W. V. Lambert (Vicar of Eastleigh) and the Rev. K. W. H. Felstead. Also present was the Mayor of Eastleigh and members of the Borough Council.
After the opening prayer and exhortation by the Bishop, the Te Deum was sung, followed by the lesson from the Book of Numbers read by the Mayor. The ringers’ hymn, “Unchanging God, Who Livest Enthroned in Realms on High,” was followed by the Creed and prayers for all benefactors, for the craftsmen and for the Guild. As the Bishop, preceded by the Rector and churchwardens, walked to the tower, another ringers’ hymn was sung, “Ring Forth, Holy Bells,” and with the congregation facing west, the dedication was carried out. Mr. J. P. Fidler, on behalf of the founders, handed the ropes to the churchwarden, who then handed them to the Bishop, asking him to dedicate the bells to the glory of God and for the use of His Church.
At the end of the dedication ceremony the bells were rung in rounds by ten members of the local band - R. A. Reed 1, C. Murphy 2, A. M. Reed 3, Miss A. Vinter 4, C. Taylor 5, A. Smith 6, D. Forder 7, L. Stead 8, N. Hayes 9, J. L. Dacombe 10. Then the carol “Ding Dong! Merrily on High” was sung.
In an anecdotal sermon, the Bishop reminded the congregation of the picture they sometimes drew of home when away - “a green valley with a few trees, a placid stream flowing into a lake, a country church with a tower, and then from the tower the bells ring out, and at once the picture becomes alive.”
When he thought of bells he thought of a friend of his, who every evening used to go to the local pub and on his way always met the Vicar of his parish. One evening, when he was starting his car, he heard the church bells ringing for Evensong, and it made him think of the Vicar. He thought: “That’s his life, and this is mine, but I wonder which is right in the eyes of God?” So he decided to go to church instead of to the pub that evening. Now he was one of the leading laymen in the Diocese. He felt he must congratulate the people of the parish, who had raised £320 of the £650 needed to pay for the bells.
During the hymn “Angel Voices Ever Singing,” which followed the sermon, a collection in aid of the Bell Fund was taken, which realised £13. Finally, after the Blessing, the bells were rung again by members of the local band, followed by the first changes on the new bells - a course of Grandsire Caters by members of the Winchester Guild and the University Guild.
Tea was provided by the Mothers’ Union, and about 100 people (the Bishop included) assembled in the Church Hall to partake of an ample meal, at 1s. 3d. per head, as a result of which another £5 6s. was added to the Bell Fund.
The bells were rung to a variety of methods and a great many rounds until 9 o’clock, and the ringers went home satisfied that the bell founders had, as was to be expected, done a first-rate job, for the bells are now a most musical ring, the tenor being 10 cwt. 1 qr. 16 lb.
The Ringing World No. 2389, January 11, 1957, page 29