Romsey Abbey bell-ringers

We ring for Sunday services from 9:15 until 10am and between 5:45 and 6:30pm.  We also practise on Wednesday evenings from 7.30 until 9pm.

Visiting ringers are always welcome on Sunday and at our practice night. Please ask the Parish Office for contact details of the Tower Captain or to enquire if ringing is taking place.

A brief history of the bells

There are 8 bells hung in the wooden octagonal belfry or lantern which sits on top of the tower. There have been bells hung in the tower of Romsey Abbey since 1624.  The bells are unusual in that they were cast as a complete ring of eight. Nearly all rings from this period comprised bells cast from various founders.

Originally there were 6 bells hung in a separate tower situated on a site now occupied by a garage in Church Road, 50 yards from the North Transept. In 1624 the bells were moved to their present location. This frame only held 5 bells so we presume that the remaining bell was hung above the others, or in a separate housing outside the lantern.

In 1791 the 6 bells were purchased by Thomas Mears, a Bell Founder in London (now Whitechapel Bell Foundry). The present ring of 8 bells were cast at this same foundry and hung in a new frame, retaining the 1624 sub-frame.

In 1893 the bells were overhauled and re-hung on fresh bearings by Messrs. Blackburn and Greenleaf of Salisbury. At the same time work was carried out to strengthen the frame in an attempt to reduce movement whilst the bells were rung.

This re-hanging, however, did not solve all the problems and in 1928 Whitechapel Foundry reported on the bells, recommending that they be re-hung on modern fittings. i.e. cast iron headstocks and ball bearings.  Moreover, in 1932 it was found that the 3rd, 5th and 7th bells were cracked and had to be re-cast. The remaining bells were tuned and quarter-turned

Unfortunately, following recasting and tuning, insufficient funds were available to replace the wooden headstocks.Over 40 years later, in 1976 the bells were finally re-hung using cast iron headstocks, refurbished bearings and had new wheels and ropes fitted.

Around the early 1990s, parts of the 1624 sub-frame were found to be deteriorating and the bells were getting increasingly more difficult to ring due to excessive frame movement. Clearly, some refurbishment was required. In 2007 all the bells and frame were removed from the tower. The 1624 sub-frame was replaced and the 1791 frame repaired and reinstalled. The bells were also tuned again by Whitechapel before being re-hung back in the tower.

The tenor is the heaviest bell and weighs just over 22cwt (1140kgs). This bell has the deepest note of the ring and is in the key of D♭. The lightest bell is called the treble and weighs 6cwt (324kgs).

 

Details of the Bells

Bell

Weight (cwt)

Nominal

Note

Diameter

Cast

Founder

Treble

6-1-15

1116.5

D♭

32.00″

1791

Thomas I Mears

2

6-1-21

1044.5

C

32.50″

1791

Thomas I Mears

3

8-1-12

930.5

B♭

35.00”

1932

Mears & Stainbank

4

8-3-18

833.5

A♭

37.50″

1791

Thomas I Mears

5

11-3-18

743.5

G♭

41.00″

1932

Mears & Stainbank

6

12-0-12

696.5

F

43.00″

1791

Thomas I Mears

7

17-2-20

622

E♭

47.00″

1932

Mears & Stainbank

Tenor

22-1-23

556.5

D♭

53.00″

1791

Thomas I Mears

 

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