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Bere Regis Village, Dorset
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.
Bere Regis Village Website
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St John The Baptist

Church Bells

It is not known what bells may have existed before the present west tower was built in about 1500, but in 1552 there were four "belles in the Tower" according to the inventory of church goods for that year. In addition there was a 'lytell bell' in the church itself which would have been used by the priest in connection with the celebration of Mass. None of these four bells now remain as such, but their metal probably survives in the present set of bells, as a new bell was almost invariably provided by recasting the broken one it was to replace. The following table sets out the vital statistics of the present set of bells: The original peal of four bells appears to have been increased to five in 1609 according to the old churchwardens accounts, and remained so until 1920 when a new additional treble bell increased the peal to the present six. As bells are always numbered from the top downwards, this had the result of changing all the bell numbers as shown in the first two columns of the above table, so that references in the old churchwardens accounts must be construed accordingly. In 2013 the Bere Regis Bell Tower Appeal was launched, with a target of £60k. The aim was 3 fold - 1. Deal with the wear and tear accumulated over the 94 years since the last major overhaul and ensure that the bells remain safe to ring. 2. Conserve the bell-frame and the bells and minimises the danger of the bells developing cracks in the future. 3. Provide for the ring of 6 bells to be brought back into tune. You can read more about the Appeal here In March 2014 the Funds were raised and in September 2014 the Bells were all removed for Restoration. The newly restored Bells were returned in December 2014 and will be first rung in an official Service, in the Carol Service, on the evening of Sunday 21st December. The Rededication Service is planned for January 25th at 11am. The entrance to the Bells By 1919 the old oak bell frame had become so faulty that ringing was no longer possible, and in that year all the bells were taken down and sent to the foundry of Mears and Stainbank of Whitechapel, London. There they were retuned (from the key of D to E flat) and later returned to Bere Regis where they were rehung, together with the new additional treble bell, in a new steel frame. Whilst the bells were away a temporary bell was slung from a tree in the churchyard. The following notes give further known details about each bell in turn: The First or treble bell bears the inscription: MEARS St STAINBANK, LONDON. PAX, 1919. The Second bell bears the inscription: AL * THOVGH * THAT * I * AM * BVT *SMALL *YET * I * BE * HARD * A * BOVE * THEM * ALL * AL * ID * C * W * ANNODOMINI * 1656 " TP This bell was formerly the treble and accounts for its delightful inscription. The initials T.P. are those of Thomas Purdue (1621-1711) a famous bellfounder of Closworth, near Sherborne. The Purdues, three generations of them, William, George and Thomas cast many west country bells between 1570 and 1709. A.L. and LD. (or J.D,) were Anthony Lawes and John Daw, churchwardens in 1656, and the following items have been taken from their account of that year:- pd Laurn: Chubb for ye Covenants & bonds betweeneus & ye belfoundr £0-02-00 In expence for bread & beere about taking downe ye little bell .............£0-04-06 pd Mr George ffroome for his charge in seeing the little bell cast ........... £0-13-04 pd George Sexey's charge for the same ................................................. £0-13-04 for his horse hiere ................................................................................ £0-05-00 John Daw's charges for ye same ........................................................... £0-13-04 ffor his horse hiere ............................................................................... £0-05-00 pd Benjamin Coake for Carriage of ye little bell to ye place of castinge .. £1-12-00 ffor casting the mettall of the little bell wch weighed 721 1 & dicnd at 14s p centw ........................ £4-18-00 for 1451 & dicnd of new mettall put into the sd bell at ls.p. 1 ................ £7-05-06 ffor 3 1 of Tinglasse put into the sayd bell at 8s. p 1 .............................. £1-04-00 ffor hanging & unhanging of the sayd bell ........................................... £0-12-00 ffor casting the brasses at 6d, p.l. wch weighed 511 ............................ £1-05-06 ffor 29 1 of new mettall added to the sd brasses at 1s. p. i .................... £1-09-00 Altogether this amounts to £21 2s. 6d. which was a very large sum in the 17th century, and the whole account came to over £46-much more than was usually spent in a year, but it seems that the whole of the bells and frame were overhauled and repaired in addition to other repairs to the tower itself. It can be seen from the above extracts that this was a recasting of an existing `little bell,' mention being made of taking it down and transporting to "ye place of castinge". The Third bell bears the inscription: J. TAYLOR Sc CO, BELLFOUNDERS LOUGHBOROUGH, 1875. Formerly the second bell, it replaced, or was a recasting of, an earlier bell, which was itself recast from a still earlier bell in 1709, and bore the inscription, according to Hutchins :ANNO DOMINI 1709. At this time both the third and fifth bells were recast at the same time by Thomas and William Knight of Closworth, and the relevant extracts from the churchwardens accounts are included under the fifth bell. The Fourth bell bears the inscription: 1602 I W PRAYSE THE LORD The initials LW. (or J.W.) are those of John Wallis (1583-1623) the Salisbury bellfounder, and there are almost 80 of his bells still surviving in Dorset, most of them bearing similar inscriptions. The Fifth bell bears the inscription:- ROBERT * FRAMPTCN * THOMAS * FRAMPTON* ANNO : DOMINI * 1709 THOMAS * KNIGHT * WILLIAM * KNIGHT ** * * * Thomas Knight and his son William succeeded the Purdues at the Closworth foundry in 1709, so that this bell must have been among the first they cast as proprietors of this foundry, Thomas Knight having been an assistant to Thomas Purdue before this date. Robert and Thomas Frampton were churchwardens in 1709, and the following items are relevant extracts from their account (the 2nd and 4th bells referred to are now the 3rd and 5th respectively): It Pd Wm. Hellyar for Carriage Of 2 bells ................................................. £ 2 5. 0 It Pd him for Carriage of 1 bell .................................................................. £ 1 5.0 It Pd Tho: Knight for newcasting of the 2d and 4th bells ........................ £17 0.0 It Pd him for 162 pounds of metal at 14d, p ............................................ £ 9 7. 0 It Pd Goodman Hart half his ksill ror worx abt. ye Bells ..................... £ 1 13. 6 It Pd. Geo. Smithy likewise .................................................................. £ 0 15.0 It Yd Expences in G journeys to Closwortn mtw the bells ..................... £ 1 5. 0 It Pd ye Expences of ye Journey & horsehire to Sherborne to pay the Belliounder ........................ £ 0 5. 6 This bell had been previously recast in 1613 according to the accounts for that year:- Inprimis paid for Casting the fowerth bell ............................................. vj li (£6). Item paid unto John Huny for goeing unto Sarum about the Bell ...... xvii j d (18d) Item for carrying the bell to muntagn the first tyme ....................... xxxv s. (3os) Item ror chardges about the carrye.ng of the bell the sccond tyme ......... xxriij s. ijd (£1 4s. ld.). Item more for chardges about the bell ............................... vjs. riijd (6s. 4d.). Item we doe owe unto Leonard Clentch for the last carryerng of the bell .................................... xiij s iirjd (13s. 4d.). The sixth bell bears the inscription: IOHN : OVGHTRELONEY VICKER * IVSTENYEN EKENS : AND : IOHN : HASZARD ; CHURCH : WARDENS * CLEMANT : TOSIEAR * CAST * MEE * IN ~ 1698 * THIS : BELL : WAS THE GlVEFT OF MARY DYET * Clement Tosier was the Salisbury bellfounder at this time, and there are 14 other bells in Dorset cast by him or Thomas Tosier. The following items relevant to the casting of this bell are extracted from the churchwardens account of 1698: pd. for Expences at Sarum wn. ye bell was carryed .................... £02-00- 3 pd. John Sargent for Horse hyer to Sarum .................................. £00-03- 0 pd. for Beere when the Bell was first hung up .............................. £00-02- 6 pd. for Beere when the Bell was cast ........................................... £0O-03- 0 pd. Tosier for Casting the Bell ...................................................... £16-00- 0 pd. Tosier for 83 lb. of mettle put in the Bell ................................ £04-13-10 pd. him more by ye parrishes Order ............................................ £04-10- 0 pd. Robt. Aplins Bills the whole time ........................................... £04-08- 7 From other items in these accounts it would seem that Robert Applin was a blacksmith, so that his charges were probably connected with hanging the bell and other incidental works. As this bell weighs more than 18cwt (947 kg), it is obvious that an older bell was recast, 831bs (37 kg) of new metal being used to make up the deficiency. The inscription on the bell states that it was the gift of Mary Dyet, so perhaps she presented the original bell, as she appears to have taken no part in financing the recasting of 1698. The old churchwardens accounts furnish a great deal of interesting information on the use and upkeep of the bells apart from items regarding castings already quoted. They seem always to have been a continual source of trouble and expense to the churchwardens whose accounts are full of all conceivable repairs to the pulleys, wheels, ropes and clappers etc. In the account for 1684 there are a number of items concerning the recasting of a bell by Clement Tosier of Salisbury but it does not now remain, and the number of the bell is not referred to. The ringers appear always to have been paid in the form of beer, usually about five times a year on certain anniversary days, among which was November 5th. As an example the following items are from the account for 1736: Pd. for Beer for ye Ringers on Coronation Day .............................. £0 2.6. Paid for Beer for the Ringers Al1=Saints day ................................. £0 2.6. Paid for Beer for the Ringers Gunpowder =Treason day ................ £0 5.0. Paid for Beer for the Ringers at Christmas ..................................... £0 5.0. Pd. for Beer for the Ringers New-years day ................................... £0 2.6. There were five ringers at this time, and beer was 2d. a pint, so that it would appear that each ringer was given six pints on November 5 and at Christmas, and three pints on the other occasions. At a vestry meeting held on 24 December, 1733: It was resolved & agreed That no Church-warden of Beere Rs shall at any time hereafter pay any of the parish moneys for ringing of the Bells at any time whatsoever Witness our hands. This is followed by the signatures of the vicar, the Rev. Henry Fisher and ten others. This must have been a most unpopular decision, resulting perhaps in a strike of ringers rather than bells, for less than a year later there is this item: October 21st, 1734 It is agreed by us at this Vestry whose names are under written that the Churchwardens shall pay such Money for Ringing upon such Days as it hath been paid before Witness our hands. An ancient custom of ringing a curfew at 8 o'clock in the winter evenings survived at Bere Regis until recently, and it is known that this curfew bell was being rung as long ago as 1610, for under the date 1 November of that year there is this memorandum: Morgan Mugereg is to Ring the grett bell att fower a cloke in the morninge & att eaight a cloke att (night) & to keep the cloke untell the therd daye of maye next for the ringing he is to have xvis (16s.) & a h of candells. On the 5 May 1616 a similar agreement was drawn up between the churchwardens and a carpenter concerning maintenance of the bells: Memorandume it is agrede betwene the Churche Wardenes of this parishe and John Honye that the sayd John Hony shall mayntayne all the tackelinge belonginge to the fyfe belles of this parishe with all thinges nedefulle therto belonginge except mettell and Irone that is to saye the Cadge stockes whealles ropes lether for the baduicks and worckemanshipe and to Rynge the Curfe bell at eyght in the evfeninge and the fawer aclock bell in the morninge and to rynge the bell for eyght and fower frome synte luckes Daye tyll fortnighte before our Lady Daye and for this Charge of worckemanshipe and laboure the wardens ar to pay the sayd John hony for this yeare the sume of xxxv j s. (£1 16s.) Leonard Clench Churchwardens Robart french On the subject of time-keeping, below is a diagram of the Church's 18th Century clock, currently housed in Dorset County Museum. Click the picture for a full sized image
Bere Regis Village, Dorset
Bere Regis Village Website
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.

St John The Baptist

Church Bells

It is not known what bells may have existed before the present west tower was built in about 1500, but in 1552 there were four "belles in the Tower" according to the inventory of church goods for that year. In addition there was a 'lytell bell' in the church itself which would have been used by the priest in connection with the celebration of Mass. None of these four bells now remain as such, but their metal probably survives in the present set of bells, as a new bell was almost invariably provided by recasting the broken one it was to replace. The following table sets out the vital statistics of the present set of bells: The original peal of four bells appears to have been increased to five in 1609 according to the old churchwardens accounts, and remained so until 1920 when a new additional treble bell increased the peal to the present six. As bells are always numbered from the top downwards, this had the result of changing all the bell numbers as shown in the first two columns of the above table, so that references in the old churchwardens accounts must be construed accordingly. In 2013 the Bere Regis Bell Tower Appeal was launched, with a target of £60k. The aim was 3 fold - 1. Deal with the wear and tear accumulated over the 94 years since the last major overhaul and ensure that the bells remain safe to ring. 2. Conserve the bell-frame and the bells and minimises the danger of the bells developing cracks in the future. 3. Provide for the ring of 6 bells to be brought back into tune. You can read more about the Appeal here In March 2014 the Funds were raised and in September 2014 the Bells were all removed for Restoration. The newly restored Bells were returned in December 2014 and will be first rung in an official Service, in the Carol Service, on the evening of Sunday 21st December. The Rededication Service is planned for January 25th at 11am. The entrance to the Bells By 1919 the old oak bell frame had become so faulty that ringing was no longer possible, and in that year all the bells were taken down and sent to the foundry of Mears and Stainbank of Whitechapel, London. There they were retuned (from the key of D to E flat) and later returned to Bere Regis where they were rehung, together with the new additional treble bell, in a new steel frame. Whilst the bells were away a temporary bell was slung from a tree in the churchyard. The following notes give further known details about each bell in turn: The First or treble bell bears the inscription: MEARS St STAINBANK, LONDON. PAX, 1919. The Second bell bears the inscription: AL * THOVGH * THAT * I * AM * BVT *SMALL *YET * I * BE * HARD * A * BOVE * THEM * ALL * AL * ID * C * W * ANNODOMINI * 1656 " TP This bell was formerly the treble and accounts for its delightful inscription. The initials T.P. are those of Thomas Purdue (1621-1711) a famous bellfounder of Closworth, near Sherborne. The Purdues, three generations of them, William, George and Thomas cast many west country bells between 1570 and 1709. A.L. and LD. (or J.D,) were Anthony Lawes and John Daw, churchwardens in 1656, and the following items have been taken from their account of that year:- pd Laurn: Chubb for ye Covenants & bonds betweeneus & ye belfoundr £0-02-00 In expence for bread & beere about taking downe ye little bell .............£0- 04-06 pd Mr George ffroome for his charge in seeing the little bell cast ........... £0-13-04 pd George Sexey's charge for the same ................................................. £0-13-04 for his horse hiere ................................................................................ £0- 05-00 John Daw's charges for ye same ........................................................... £0-13-04 ffor his horse hiere ............................................................................... £0- 05-00 pd Benjamin Coake for Carriage of ye little bell to ye place of castinge .. £1-12-00 ffor casting the mettall of the little bell wch weighed 721 1 & dicnd at 14s p centw ........................ £4-18-00 for 1451 & dicnd of new mettall put into the sd bell at ls.p. 1 ................ £7- 05-06 ffor 3 1 of Tinglasse put into the sayd bell at 8s. p 1 .............................. £1-04-00 ffor hanging & unhanging of the sayd bell ........................................... £0- 12-00 ffor casting the brasses at 6d, p.l. wch weighed 511 ............................ £1- 05-06 ffor 29 1 of new mettall added to the sd brasses at 1s. p. i .................... £1-09-00 Altogether this amounts to £21 2s. 6d. which was a very large sum in the 17th century, and the whole account came to over £46-much more than was usually spent in a year, but it seems that the whole of the bells and frame were overhauled and repaired in addition to other repairs to the tower itself. It can be seen from the above extracts that this was a recasting of an existing `little bell,' mention being made of taking it down and transporting to "ye place of castinge". The Third bell bears the inscription: J. TAYLOR Sc CO, BELLFOUNDERS LOUGHBOROUGH, 1875. Formerly the second bell, it replaced, or was a recasting of, an earlier bell, which was itself recast from a still earlier bell in 1709, and bore the inscription, according to Hutchins :ANNO DOMINI 1709. At this time both the third and fifth bells were recast at the same time by Thomas and William Knight of Closworth, and the relevant extracts from the churchwardens accounts are included under the fifth bell. The Fourth bell bears the inscription: 1602 I W PRAYSE THE LORD The initials LW. (or J.W.) are those of John Wallis (1583-1623) the Salisbury bellfounder, and there are almost 80 of his bells still surviving in Dorset, most of them bearing similar inscriptions. The Fifth bell bears the inscription:- ROBERT * FRAMPTCN * THOMAS * FRAMPTON* ANNO : DOMINI * 1709 THOMAS * KNIGHT * WILLIAM * KNIGHT ** * * * Thomas Knight and his son William succeeded the Purdues at the Closworth foundry in 1709, so that this bell must have been among the first they cast as proprietors of this foundry, Thomas Knight having been an assistant to Thomas Purdue before this date. Robert and Thomas Frampton were churchwardens in 1709, and the following items are relevant extracts from their account (the 2nd and 4th bells referred to are now the 3rd and 5th respectively): It Pd Wm. Hellyar for Carriage Of 2 bells ................................................. £ 2 5. 0 It Pd him for Carriage of 1 bell .................................................................. £ 1 5.0 It Pd Tho: Knight for newcasting of the 2d and 4th bells ........................ £17 0.0 It Pd him for 162 pounds of metal at 14d, p ............................................ £ 9 7. 0 It Pd Goodman Hart half his ksill ror worx abt. ye Bells ..................... £ 1 13. 6 It Pd. Geo. Smithy likewise .................................................................. £ 0 15.0 It Yd Expences in G journeys to Closwortn mtw the bells ..................... £ 1 5. 0 It Pd ye Expences of ye Journey & horsehire to Sherborne to pay the Belliounder ........................ £ 0 5. 6 This bell had been previously recast in 1613 according to the accounts for that year:- Inprimis paid for Casting the fowerth bell ............................................. vj li (£6). Item paid unto John Huny for goeing unto Sarum about the Bell ...... xvii j d (18d) Item for carrying the bell to muntagn the first tyme ....................... xxxv s. (3os) Item ror chardges about the carrye.ng of the bell the sccond tyme ......... xxriij s. ijd (£1 4s. ld.). Item more for chardges about the bell ............................... vjs. riijd (6s. 4d.). Item we doe owe unto Leonard Clentch for the last carryerng of the bell .................................... xiij s iirjd (13s. 4d.). The sixth bell bears the inscription: IOHN : OVGHTRELONEY VICKER * IVSTENYEN EKENS : AND : IOHN : HASZARD ; CHURCH : WARDENS * CLEMANT : TOSIEAR * CAST * MEE * IN ~ 1698 * THIS : BELL : WAS THE GlVEFT OF MARY DYET * Clement Tosier was the Salisbury bellfounder at this time, and there are 14 other bells in Dorset cast by him or Thomas Tosier. The following items relevant to the casting of this bell are extracted from the churchwardens account of 1698: pd. for Expences at Sarum wn. ye bell was carryed .................... £02-00- 3 pd. John Sargent for Horse hyer to Sarum .................................. £00-03- 0 pd. for Beere when the Bell was first hung up .............................. £00-02- 6 pd. for Beere when the Bell was cast ........................................... £0O-03- 0 pd. Tosier for Casting the Bell ...................................................... £16-00- 0 pd. Tosier for 83 lb. of mettle put in the Bell ................................ £04-13- 10 pd. him more by ye parrishes Order ............................................ £04-10- 0 pd. Robt. Aplins Bills the whole time ........................................... £04-08- 7 From other items in these accounts it would seem that Robert Applin was a blacksmith, so that his charges were probably connected with hanging the bell and other incidental works. As this bell weighs more than 18cwt (947 kg), it is obvious that an older bell was recast, 831bs (37 kg) of new metal being used to make up the deficiency. The inscription on the bell states that it was the gift of Mary Dyet, so perhaps she presented the original bell, as she appears to have taken no part in financing the recasting of 1698. The old churchwardens accounts furnish a great deal of interesting information on the use and upkeep of the bells apart from items regarding castings already quoted. They seem always to have been a continual source of trouble and expense to the churchwardens whose accounts are full of all conceivable repairs to the pulleys, wheels, ropes and clappers etc. In the account for 1684 there are a number of items concerning the recasting of a bell by Clement Tosier of Salisbury but it does not now remain, and the number of the bell is not referred to. The ringers appear always to have been paid in the form of beer, usually about five times a year on certain anniversary days, among which was November 5th. As an example the following items are from the account for 1736: Pd. for Beer for ye Ringers on Coronation Day .............................. £0 2.6. Paid for Beer for the Ringers Al1=Saints day ................................. £0 2.6. Paid for Beer for the Ringers Gunpowder =Treason day ................ £0 5.0. Paid for Beer for the Ringers at Christmas ..................................... £0 5.0. Pd. for Beer for the Ringers New-years day ................................... £0 2.6. There were five ringers at this time, and beer was 2d. a pint, so that it would appear that each ringer was given six pints on November 5 and at Christmas, and three pints on the other occasions. At a vestry meeting held on 24 December, 1733: It was resolved & agreed That no Church-warden of Beere Rs shall at any time hereafter pay any of the parish moneys for ringing of the Bells at any time whatsoever Witness our hands. This is followed by the signatures of the vicar, the Rev. Henry Fisher and ten others. This must have been a most unpopular decision, resulting perhaps in a strike of ringers rather than bells, for less than a year later there is this item: October 21st, 1734 It is agreed by us at this Vestry whose names are under written that the Churchwardens shall pay such Money for Ringing upon such Days as it hath been paid before Witness our hands. An ancient custom of ringing a curfew at 8 o'clock in the winter evenings survived at Bere Regis until recently, and it is known that this curfew bell was being rung as long ago as 1610, for under the date 1 November of that year there is this memorandum: Morgan Mugereg is to Ring the grett bell att fower a cloke in the morninge & att eaight a cloke att (night) & to keep the cloke untell the therd daye of maye next for the ringing he is to have xvis (16s.) & a h of candells. On the 5 May 1616 a similar agreement was drawn up between the churchwardens and a carpenter concerning maintenance of the bells: Memorandume it is agrede betwene the Churche Wardenes of this parishe and John Honye that the sayd John Hony shall mayntayne all the tackelinge belonginge to the fyfe belles of this parishe with all thinges nedefulle therto belonginge except mettell and Irone that is to saye the Cadge stockes whealles ropes lether for the baduicks and worckemanshipe and to Rynge the Curfe bell at eyght in the evfeninge and the fawer aclock bell in the morninge and to rynge the bell for eyght and fower frome synte luckes Daye tyll fortnighte before our Lady Daye and for this Charge of worckemanshipe and laboure the wardens ar to pay the sayd John hony for this yeare the sume of xxxv j s. (£1 16s.) Leonard Clench Churchwardens Robart french On the subject of time-keeping, below is a diagram of the Church's 18th Century clock, currently housed in Dorset County Museum. Click the picture for a full sized image