The recently-restored ring of eight at New Alresford, Hants, was fully utilised on Saturday, November 28th, at a well-attended and successful district meeting of the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild. From 2 to 7.30 p.m., except during service and the tea interval, the assembled members, upwards of 40 in number, kept the bells going in methods from Grandsire Doubles to Cambridge Surprise Major, while for the benefit of some learners in the gathering there were also a few "touches of rounds."
The towers represented were North Stoneham, Fareham, Bishop's Sutton, Old and New Alresford, Winchester, Tichborne, Twyford, Bramley, Alton, Upham, Wonston, Swanmore, King's Worthy, Soberton and Wickham.
At the Guild service the Rector (the Rev. Canon Robinson) gave a brief address of welcome to the Guild members, and, after referring to the part that the diocese had taken in helping to clear the debt on the bells before they were opened, he dwelt on the necessity for that teamwork in all things, of which change ringing provided so conspicuous an example.
Tea was served at the Bell Hotel, by invitation of the bellfounders, and it was presided over by the district chairman, the Rev. N. C. Woods, supported by the Rector and his churchwarden, and by the Ven. Archdeacon of Winchester, who, in a felicitous speech by the chairman, was introduced to the gathering "not as a dignitary of the Church, but as a friend of the Guild."
The bells of Old Alresford (6) and Bishop's Sutton (5) were also available for ringing after tea, and were kept going by members of the Guild.
The work at New Alresford included the recasting of the treble, the retuning of the remainder, and rehanging the eight in a new iron frame with new fittings throughout. It was carried out by Messrs. Taylor and Co., of Loughborough. The tuning especially is admirable, while the staunchness of the frame makes the going as delightful to the practised hand as the tone is to the ear. The effect of the ring in action has been skilfully enhanced by some cunning adjustments of the louvres, which greatly reduce the sound of the bells in the close vicinity.
A thanksgiving service was held on Sunday, October 25th, on the completion of the work. The Bishop of Winchester preached an appropriate sermon, and an appeal was made for the last £10 required to clear the debt on the bells and repairs to the tower which had been necessary.
It was announced later that the collection and late donations had resulted in the amount required being raised - a total of about £538. This is a remarkable effort for so small a place as New Alresford to carry through in a little under two years.
Representatives of the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild from five different towers were present, and touches of Grandsire Triples were rung before and after service.
The bells were originally six in number, recast and augmented to eight in 1811 by Mears, of Whitechapel. They were rehung and quarter-turned in 1897 by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank.
The inscriptions on the bells are interesting:-
|In sweetest sounds let each its note reveal,|
Mine shall be first to lead the dulcet peal.
|The public raised us with a liberal hand,|
We come with harmony to cheer the land.
|When female virtue weds with manly worth,|
We catch the rapture and we spread it forth.
|Does battle rage, do sanguine hosts contend,|
We hail the victor, if he's Britain's friend.
|May he who England's matchless sceptre sways,|
Her sacred honour guard, her glory raise.
|May Britons still their ancient freedom boast,|
And flattering commerce bless their happy coast.
|May all who I shall summon to the grave,|
The blessing of a well spent life receive.
William Keene, James Redman, Churchwardens.
T. Mears, of London, fecit 1811.
All bear the maker's name, the treble with the addition, "Recast J. Taylor and Co., 1936."
The Ringing World No. 1342, December 11th, 1936, page 806