Rules for ringers – 1876

The transcribed document below lists the rules for church bell ringers some 140 years ago. Some of these rules have been relaxed but it makes total sense not to be dosed up with alcohol when ringing

RULES and REGULATIONS FOR THE RINGERS OF MARKET LAVINGTON –1876

  1. That the number of ringers shall not be less than eight, nor more than twelve.
  2. That no person be appointed as a ringer who is not a member of the Church of England, or without the approval of the Vicar and Churchwardens.
  3. That one of the ringers be appointed foreman, who shall be responsible for the conduct of the ringers, and have power to enforce the observance of all these rules and regulations.
  4. That there shall be a Treasurer who shall take charge of all monies from any source and on any occasion during the year (except weddings or any other gifts over twenty shillings, the surplus to go to the general fund).That such money shall remain in his hands until the end of the year when it shall be divided among all the ringers, share and share alike provided, nevertheless, that any ringer leaving the company from any reasonable cause shall be entitled to his share of the money in hand at the time of his leaving when the money is annually divided, but any ringer expelled for misconduct shall forfeit all claim to such share.
  5. That no ringer be admitted into the belfry, or be allowed to ring the bells, if he is in a state of intoxification, or in any degree under the influence of drink.
  6. That no smoking, drinking, swearing or profane language of any kind be permitted in the Belfry on any pretence whatever, and that everyone shall reverently uncover his head on entering the Church.
  7. That the bells be chimed on Sundays, and on the great festivals of the Church before each service. The ringers to take their part in chiming in regular turn.
  8. That on Sundays the ringers come to Church properly dressed, and unless there is a reasonable cause, they shall join the congregation in the services to which they have summoned the people.
  9. That on any occasion when doubt may arise as to the propriety of ringing the bells, the foreman shall first obtain consent of the Vicar, or in his absence of the Churchwardens, before the bells be rung.
  10. That in case of any dispute arising from the ringers, it shall be referred to the Vicar and Churchwardens whose decision shall be final.
  11. That the By-laws of the ringers shall not be liable to any alteration without the sanction of three fourths of the whole body of Ringers.
  12. That Mr. Churchwarden Grist be appointed Treasurer.

We the undersigned, Ringers of Market Lavington, hereby express our approval of the foregoing rules and Regulations, and promise to observe them-

Foreman; Richard Heiron. Ringers; John Merritt, William King, H.A. Canning, James Hiscock, John Lanham, James Gye, William Potter, James Neate, Charles Richard Burns, W.S. Hussey

One word of advice;

Ringers, remember this; that nothing can keep you together but sobriety of character and harmony among yourselves. Without these you will be like a rope of sand, doomed to drop to pieces and leave your cheerful Tower in sullen silence.

E.C.Brace, Priest in charge 22nd. February 1876

Many surnames amonst that 1876 list of ringers can still be found in the village. These days, if ringing were a 100% male preserve there would never be an adequate team. Indeed, the captain of the Market Lavington team is a woman. In fact five of the nine home ringers are female. It is, of course, good to report that ringing still goes on in the village.

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