St Laurence Bells
|St Laurence church is very fortunate to have a fine peal of 8 bells. The oldest bell, The Sanctus, was originally cast in Buckingham in 1611 and the final pair of bells was added as recently as 1955.|
|As well as chiming the hours and quarter-hours, a mechanical carillon plays the hymn tune St David after the chimes every third hour.|
Change ringing by a team of experienced ringers shows the full potential of the bells but as with many church towers across the land there have been times when our bells have been silent. This was the case at St Laurence towards the end of the last millennium due to a shortage of ringers but there was a drive to have all the towers with bells in England ringing for the year 2000. St Laurence redoubled its efforts to recruit ringers and prospective recruits were directed to Great Horwood for training, there being no tower captain at St Laurence at the time. Other local churches in Stewkley, Whitchurch and Little Horwood also assisted with the training of the present band.
|The current joint tower captains are Diana Slevin and Janet Pentony. Each Sunday a number of bells at St Laurence are raised and rung full circle, summoning our parishioners to the service. This is known as “Service Ringing”, it is what the bells are for. Some times we have very experienced ringers visiting the tower, and those with sharp ears may discern some nice tunes. This is known as “The Exercise”. A peal ring was conducted in November 2006 to commemorate 50 years from the installation of the 2 treble bells in 1956 and also to mark the retirement of the vicar, Tony Whalley. Details and pictures here.|
Regular ringing practice is needed in order to achieve a standard in keeping with the fine ring of bells at the church. Practices are held on Monday evenings from 7.30 to 9.00. Sunday service ringing is normally 8.50 to 9.25am. We would welcome more bellringers on a regular or occasional basis. If you are interested and are experienced, even if lapsed, then please contact Tower Secretary Jan Lewis. The Winslow church is approached from the N.W. corner of the Market Square, or from Church Walk, off the High Street.
We have been working hard on our “ringing up”. This is how we prepare the bells to be rung and if done incorrectly can sound quite messy. To “ring up”, the bell ringer must keep on swinging the bell until eventually it is totally upside down. The wooden bar, sticking out from the top of the headstock is called a stay. It acts as a support, allowing the bell to rest in the upside down position ready to be rung. Once a bell has been 'rung up' it’s mouth is facing upwards.
The next time the rope is pulled, the bell will fall and swing through a full 360 degrees and then swing back to balance on the stay. As the bell rises, the clapper hits the bell edge and thus a single note rings out.
At the end of the ringing session we must then “ring down” which is the opposite procedure and leaves the bell hanging with the mouth downwards. The bells are then safe to be used by the clock’s chiming mechanism.
Click here for details of the restoration work and pictures of the removal and subsequent return of the bells.
In 2018 we will be celebrating 10 years since the completion of the restoration.