Posts Tagged ‘bells’

The Bell ringers of 77

September 23, 2014

Market Lavington is lucky enough still to have a team of ringers, albeit more are wanted to take up or return to this fun activity (our curator does it)

Sadly, none of the ringers of 1977 are still ringing in this area although one or two might ring elsewhere.

This photo recently turned up in a collection which our former archivist had. We think it is 1977 because many photos in the collection showed 1977 Silver Jubilee events. Maybe this team rang for that event.

Market Lavington bell ringers of 1977

Market Lavington bell ringers of 1977

From the left we have Johnathan Gye who, sadly, died far too early back in 2001. Next to him is a man we are not certain of, but we think he could be a son of Maurice Baker. Maurice is the man on the right and he died a couple of years ago. The third man from the left is Johnathan’s father, Tom Gye. He is still alive, but no longer ringing for he is well into his 90s. We marked him getting an award for 70 years ringing on this blog (click here).

We do not know the fourth man – the younger chap in blue but we think he may have come from the Plymouth area and may have been staying with Tom and Peggy Gye. Next, the fifth man, is Fred Davis. He was another man who died far too young, back in the 1980s. And then, as mentioned before we have Maurice Baker.

How good to have a picture of the ringers of that era, standing outside the tower door at St Mary’s


A Peal Board

December 15, 2010

Bell ringing has gone on for many a year in Market Lavington Church and still continues today. But full peals are not often rung. A peal board (which hangs in the church tower – we just have the photo in the museum) records one in 1928.

A peal board which hangs in the tower of St Mary's, Market Lavington with a photo at Market Lavington Museum

As can be seen, the method rung was Grandsire Doubles and each ringer produced 5040 rings from their bell and all in the ever changing but correct order. It takes some stamina to stand and ring for over three hours for there’s no chance to take a break.

Let’s take a look at the people who rang this peal.

We have met John Hampton Merritt before. He was the Market Lavington Prize Silver Band leader for 60 or more years. He also ran a cycle shop on Church Street.

The Reverend Sturton was Market Lavington’s vicar from 1906 to 1940. It was not unusual, once, for Vicars to be ringers as well.

R A Baker is a bit of an enigma. Can anyone help us know who he was?

A F (Alf) Burbidge is well known to the museum for he lived in the cottage which we now occupy. He was a gardener and heavily involved in village life.

H S (Harry) Parsons who conducted this peal lived on White Street. We’d like to know more about him as well.

J E (Joseph) Gye was another White Street resident. He was carpenter, undertaker, wheelwright etc. He was also father of Tom Gye who is the widower of museum founder, Peggy Gye. Tom was a bell ringer, himself, for 70 years.

A Cowbell

December 5, 2010

This item was found, many a year ago, in the grounds of Easterton Manor. It is a late 19th century cowbell.

A 19th century cowbell found in Easterton and now at Market Lavington museum

Cowbells were worn by a member of a herd of cows to give a cowman an audio warning of the whereabouts and mood of his charges. They needed to be simple and cheap to make, reasonably light but also durable. It goes without saying that they also needed to make a lovely sonorous note as the clapper hit the bell.

The book, Shepherds of Britain, published in 1911 suggests that Market Lavington may have been something of a centre for bell making.

The Ellacombe mentioned is the Reverend H T Ellacombe who wrote extensively about bells in the 19th century – mostly church bells.

At Market Lavington Museum we think our bell, which certainly has a sonorous tone, may have been made in the Cheverell area. Click here to listen to the sound of this bell

The Old School Bell

November 24, 2010

In the twenty first century, the idea of a fairly small, manually rung bell at a school seems entirely alien. But the Old School in Market Lavington was built in the 19th century. As L P Hartley said in his book, The Go Between, ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’

Noise levels must have been really different then. Market Lavington is still a comparatively quiet place but a school bell like this one would struggle to be heard over the noise of road traffic and aircraft not to mention occasional artillery and small arms fire on the military ranges. But at a time when people did not have clocks, something was needed to summon the youngsters to school and a bell for all to hear was the solution.

Market Lavington School bell - now at Market Lavington Museum

Actually, with the huge size of the parish, many youngsters would always have been out of hearing range. The children at Candown Farm, some three miles away on Salisbury Plain would never have heard the bell and they had to leave home long before any bell would have sounded to reach school on time.

A photograph, in the museum, shows the bell in place.

The old school in 1912, showing the bell tower

This picture was taken in 1912 – nearly 100 years ago but it is still very much the same building except for the little bell tower on top.

For the record the bell mounts are made of ferrous metal and the bell itself of bell metal.

A crotal bell

March 10, 2010

The crotal bell is one kind of sheep bell. Bells were worn by some sheep in a flock, particularly (in the parish of Market Lavington) if the flock roamed on Salisbury Plain.

The reason for sheep bells is disputed. Some say it was to help a shepherd find his flock if he couldn’t see them, but others say a good shepherd would not have let the sheep out of his sight. Another idea is that a working shepherd, who could see his sheep, got a warning of the sheep getting disturbed if he heard more bell ringing. Yet another theory says that shepherding was a lonely life and the shepherd just found that the sound of the bells offered some company.

Crotal bell found in Market Lavington

This bell was found by a local metal detectorist. Market Lavington Museum know where it was found. People who use metal detectors can meet with disapproval but we work with a local enthusiast. The arrangement works well for all concerned. The bell was given to the museum just a couple of days ago.

The bell was almost certainly made in Aldbourne in northeast Wiltshire at the foundry of Robert Wells. If so it dates from about 1780. However, the Whitechapel foundry bought the Robert Wells moulds. This means it is possible that the bell was made in East London in the nineteenth century.

The bell measures about 5cm across but is similar in idea to small jingle bells. A metal ‘pea’ is contained within the bell and the sound is made as this ‘pea’ moves about. Our bell is still in good sounding order

A bell ringer for 70 Years

January 29, 2010

Market Lavington Museum is not only about preserving old things. We also preserve the present so that future generations can learn about and enjoy aspects of twenty first century life. So here we have a photo that was taken at the end of 2009.

Tom Gye, on the left, receives his award for ringing the bells of St Mary's, Market Lavington for 70 years

Tom Gye is a lifelong Market Lavington man. Amongst his many and varied interests is bell ringing. He first rang the bells at Market Lavington in the 1930s and continued ringing there for more than 70 years.

In 1939 Tom became a member of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers and a special celebration was arranged to celebrate his 70 years of membership. The photo shows Tom receiving his award from the President of the Guild. The celebration tea was actually at Steeple Ashton.

The Museum is always delighted to receive information about current events. They may not go on display immediately but they are carefully stored for people to see in the future. If you have anything to offer then do contact us.