The little village of Soberton, in Hampshire, has just had its church bells put in order and the tower and clock restored. The bells have been done partly by a substantial grant from the Barron Bell Trust, but, even so, the parish has raised something like £400 for the work. It was a great and praiseworthy effort, and on Sunday morning the Bishop of Portsmouth attended a thanksgiving service. There was a large congregation, including the local and a few visiting ringers. The bells were rung before the service, which was conducted by the Vicar (the Rev. J. Godefroy), and in the course of which the verses from Tennyson's "In Memoriam," "Ring out, wild bells," were sung.
The Bishop, going to the west end of the church, offered special prayers and afterwards preached from the words, "The multitudes that went before and that followed, burst into a shout, saying, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. xxi., 9). Having spoken on the importance of Advent, the Bishop congratulated the parish upon the completion of the restoration of the tower and bells. Men of Soberton had through the centuries, he said, delighted in their church. As he looked upon pillar and memorial, the arcading of the roof, as he looked upon hatchment and tomb and ancient doorway, he said to himself, all down the centuries the men of Soberton had loved and cherished that place. Their sons to-day were doing precisely the same thing. It was the most ancient building in the place and the most thrilling; the stones inside and out told their own story. The Church was the embodiment of England and the English spirit, and they were rejoicing that day because they had done their part in that twentieth century in keeping the building, which enshrined everything that was best in their Christian character, in a worthy condition.
The Bishop went on to remind the congregation of the uses of bells and laid special emphasis on the marriage bell and the passing bell. The homes of England created by marriage were, he said, the foundation of our society. When they heard the bells let them ask themselves how things were going in their own homes, and if they were not going right they should get them put right by kindness, gentleness and courtesy to one another. The passing bell was a reminder that death must come to all. Let them see to it that they were making their own path so clear of evil and wickedness that when the call came to them they could go with joyful heart.
After the service a 504 Stedman Triples was conducted by Mr. George Williams (Master of the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild), who rang his first peal in this tower when the bells were increased to eight in 1883. Other touches followed in which visiting ringers took part.
The restoration of the bells, which has been carried out by Messrs. Taylor and Co., has consisted of retuning and rehanging in a new iron frame all on one level; the trebles in the old wooden frame were mounted above the rest. The bells are now a pleasant ring with a tenor of 13 cwt. 1 qr. 24 lb., and vastly improved in tone.
The sixth and seventh are pre-Reformation bells, the tenor was cast in 1623 and the 5th in 1649. The 4th was cast in 1878 and the 3rd in 1881.
The Ringing World No. 1445, December 2nd, 1938, page 782