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St Mary's bells

There is a fine peal of twelve bells in the tower of St Mary’s Church which are rung for services by a team of ringers led by Philip E Jones, Captain of the Tower.

History of the bells

1394 The earliest reference concerns the theft of a bell clapper.

1496 William Wright, ironmonger bequeathed 10s to buy new bells for St. Mary’s parish.

1553 An inventory of church goods reveals the existence of five bells, a small sanctus bell and a clock with chimes.

1558 A fierce storm on 7 July caused great damage in Nottingham. Part of the tower is thought to have collapsed into the church. Some or all of the bells survived and were repaired.

1589 The second bell was recast when ‘Mr. Alvie’ was paid £7-10s-8d for the work. He probably worked for Henry Oldfield I, one of the many founders in Nottingham from about 1370 through to 1793.

1590 The third bell was recast by Robert Quernbie.

1595 The fourth was recast in 1595. This bell has survived all subsequent restoration and is the eleventh of the twelve bells now in existence. At 20¾ cwt, it is the largest surviving bell by Oldfield. Decoration covers the shoulder and soundbow, and on the waist it displays the Royal coat of arms alternating with his own large foundry badge that Oldfield reserved for important commissions.

1605 The third bell was recast by Henry Oldfield II.

1613 The second bell was recast by the Long Row foundry.

1637 The tenor was recast at the Long Row foundry.

1625 In the Archdeaconry records for 2 May, the church wardens reported that there was timber which was an old frame of the bells, lying in the church, wch was carryed away by the appointers of Mr. Nixe, now Maior, Mr. Marmaduke Gregorie, Alderman, as Hugh Parke (parish clerk) acquainteth us.

1699 John Crow replaced the 1625 bell frame again when the bells were augmented from five to six. The new bell frame was 22 feet lower in the tower than the old one. The lower frame allowed the bells to swing full circle to accommodate the new art of ringing changes.

1708 A geometric ringing platform built in the tower crossing in 1708 shortened the length of rope even more and put the ringers in full view of the congregation.

1757 The tenor bell cracked and Thomas Hedderly recast it. Hedderly had taken over the Nottingham Long Row foundry from the Oldfields in 1742.

1760 The bells were augmented to eight by the addition of two smaller bells. A new frame was built to accommodate all eight bells and, with minor modification, the frame survived until 1934.

1761 The coronation of King George III was celebrated by the addition of two trebles cast by Pack & Chapman of Whitechapel, London. The bells however, were not completely satisfactory; the third, fourth and tenor went to Lester & Pack in London for recasting.

1812 The geometric ringing platform under the tower crossing was dismantled and the ringers returned to the loft above the plaster and oak vaulting.

1845 The Nottingham Review reported on 25 July “We hear that the treble bell, in the fine peal at St. Mary’s church, was broken on Sunday week, through the unskillful bungling of one of the ringers.” Ringing was suspended for a time during the restoration of the church as the same journal recorded on 17 October. “The bells of St. Mary’s did not chime as usual before divine service last Sunday, in consequence of the contractor for the repairs going forward having been represented to the vicar that the vibration of the bells was calculated to injure the works in progress at the piers. The chiming will consequently not be resumed until the piers of the tower are completed.”

1934 In 1934, the wooden frame of 1760 was found to be in a poor state; the main beams were badly affected by death watch beetle. The stone work was also in a poor state needing urgent restoration. The bells were removed and nine of them recast by Messrs Gillett & Johnson of Croydon. The tenor bell now weighs 35¾ cwt. The ringing chamber was enlarged, the floor re-laid in Ferro-concrete, and a new more compact stairway was constructed leading to the bells. An iron A-frame, supported by steel girders, was erected replacing the wooden bell frame.

1981 In 1980 it was decided to increase the ring by the addition of two treble bells. An order was placed with the contractors Eayre and Smith and the bells were cast by Eijsbouts of Asten in Holland. The money was raised by the Sherwood Youths and the St. Mary’s ringers and the new bells were dedicated by the Bishop of Southwell at the Patronal Festival on 2 February 1981.

1997 A variable sound control system was installed in the tower to comply with environmental regulations.

Details of the twelve bells in the ring

Treble Eijsbouts Astensis me fecit Anno MCMLXXX. The Society of Sherwood Youths gave me. “Their sound is gone forth unto all lands”. Canon M.J. Jackson, Vicar, S. Yarnell and E. Mottram, Churchwardens. (E) Eayre and Smith.

2nd Eijsbouts Astensis me fecit Anno MCMLXXX. The Parochial Church Council gave me. “God is gone up with a merry noise”. Canon M.J. Jackson, Vicar, S. Yarnell and E. Mottram, Churchwardens. (E) Eayre and Smith.

3rd C. & G. Mears, Founders, London, Recast 1856. J.W. Brooks, Vicar. W. Dearden, J. Coope, Churchwardens. Recast Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

4th Raised by Scrope Beardsmore, Vicar DD. Richd Lambert and John Wyer, Churchwardens. The Hon’able Wm. Howe & John Plumtree Esqrs - Members for the Town Subscription, 1761. Lester & Pack Fecit. Recast, Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

5th By Subscription. Revd. Scrope Beardsmore DD. Vicar. G. Browne, H. Ward, J. Burgess Ch. Wardens. 1765. Sodales Musici Nottinghamiensis Restaureverunt. Lester & Pack of London Fecit. Recast Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

6th By Subscription Revd. Scrope Beardsmore DD. Vicar. G. Browne, H. Ward, J. Burgess Ch. Wardens. 1765. Intactum Sileo Percute, Dulce Cano. Lester & Pack of London Fecit. Recast Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

7th Sustio Voce Pios Tu Iesu Dirige Mentes Venite Exvitimus. (I. Edwards, I. Sweetaple. Churchwardens 1699. Recast Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

8th Robert Aldredg, Vicar, Ralphe Shaw, Henrie Allvie, Wardens. 1613. Recast Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

9th Hee Campana Sacra Filet Trinitate Beata. W. Sturrup, T. Graye. Wardens. 1690. Recast Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

10th In noe ihu xpi ome genu fleetat celestm trestriu et infroru. R.A.V. M.G. 1605. W.L. Recast Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

11th Tu Tuba Sic Sonitu Domini Conduco cohortes. Richard Hunte Major, Nicholas Sherwyn, Richard Iohnson, Iohn Gregorie, Robert Alvie, Peter Clarke, Humfrey Bonner, Richard Morehaghe, Anker Jackson, Aldermen, 1595. Also four impressions of the coat of arms of Elizabeth I alternating with four signs of the Henry Oldfield foundry.

Tenor Revd. Scrope Beardsmore DD. Vicar. G. Browne, H. Ward, I. Burgess, Ch. Wardens. 1765. I will sound and resound unto thy people, O Lord, With my sweet voice, and call them to thy word, I tole the tune that douleful is to such as live amiss, But sweet my sound seems unto them who hope for joyful Bliss. Lester & Pack of London Fecit. Recast Gillett & Johnston, Croydon, 1935.

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Monday 9am - 4.30pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 4.30pm
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Monday - Saturday, 10am - 3pm

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Map of All Saints', St Mary's and St Peter's churches, and the Parish office

All Saints' Church - Raleigh Street, NG7 4DP
St Mary's Church - High Pavement, NG1 1HN
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contact details

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The office is situated on the upper floor of the St Peter's Centre, on the south side of St Peter's Church and adjacent to Marks & Spencer.

The Parish Office

The Parish Office
St Peter's Centre, St Peter's Square
Nottingham, United Kingdom,

0115 948 3658 (+44 115 948 3658 outside the UK)

Further information

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