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Summoning the Faithful

by Michael Ford last modified 08 Jan, 2021 08:41 PM

Our strong Diocesan tradition of bellringing received a boost recently, with the return of a set of 5 ancient bells to their tower.

Summoning the Faithful

Rector Trudy Hobson blesses the Norton Bavant bells

This week saw the bells of All Saints, Norton Bavant rehung by John Taylor & Co Bell Foundry after a full restoration. The last time the bells were rehung was in 1894.

Rector Trudy Hobson says:

"We know that they will remain in the tower ringing out for all to hear for another century and more. The wonderful thing about bells being restored is that it gives us a once-in-many-generations opportunity to see them up close. It is when we stand amongst these majestic instruments that we begin to realise the history these bells have rung out.

"In years past there were many bell founders across our country and many local to Norton Bavant, as can be seen in all 5 of our bells. Our 1656 Tenor bell was cast by Purdue & Bolter in Salisbury, and our 1711 bell (tuned to A) cast by Edward Lott in Warminster, just a couple of miles away.

Summoning the Faithful- Norton Bavant bells before
Bells 'before'

"Our oldest bell was cast in 1380-1400, and is the only example of a bell from the Bristol Foundry remaining in Wiltshire. Just imagine all that this bell has witnessed and rung out for!

"In the mid-14th Century, the chantry chapel on the site was dedicated to St Thomas the Martyr along with this bell and it began its life ringing out for Roman Catholic services with an inscription in Latin reading “Pray for us Holy Thomas”. It rang through the Reformation, and continues now to ring out for our Anglican services.

"Cast and hung during the reign of Richard II, this bell has been rung in celebration for 29 monarchs, celebrated the victory of 2 world wars, and continues calling us to, and being part of, our worship.

Summoning the Faithful- Norton Bavant bells after
Bells 'after'

"Upon the return of our bells, we were able to hold a service to consecrate our bells and to commit to God the work they will do in years to come. It was wonderful to gather together - socially distanced - to celebrate the return of our bells and pray together, in the words of the liturgy, “that the message of the bells may bring joy to the sad, penitence to sinners, and encouragement to the faithful and all who seek truth. In the song of these bells, may we find peace in our souls”.

"Our church buildings and bells are a witness and testament to generations of prayer and worship, being the joyful centre of our village celebrations, and a comfort during times of struggles and suffering. We give thanks to the Estate of the late Gordon Webb, the Warminster Area Board, and the Llewelyn Edwards Bell Restoration Fund who all generously gave grants for us to carry out this essential restoration, and we would also like to thank the PCC, DAC and Simon Adams from Taylors for the smooth running of this project.

"We pray that our bells will ring out for future generations and join the Salisbury Diocese Guild of Ringers’ prayer before a service:

Grant, O Lord, that these bells may sound your praises and the good news of your salvation; may they summon the faithful to worship and stir all who hear them to glorify your name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

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