tower stairs

Nazeing Bells

Bell History

On entering at the ground floor the turret door to the tower is 16th century.

Prior to 1779 there were five bells in the tower. Unfortunately we cannot locate any records from the foundry or elsewhere to confirm when these original bells were installed. These 5 bells (now numbered 2-6) were recast in 1779 by Pack & Chapman of Whitechapel.

By a will proved in 1902 Alfred Manser left £300 in trust, of which £2 of the annual income was to be used for the upkeep of the church bells and the rest for the remuneration of the ringers (plenty of business for local hostelries!)

The framework is early 20th century (apart from the treble which is an iron & steel extension). The headstocks are of oak/elm.

This ring survived until 1951 when the 4th bell was recast again and a new treble bell (the lightest today and highest in musical tone) was added by Gillett & Johnson of Croydon. The treble bell was given by the Worshipful Company of Mercers in memory of Captain Archdale Palmer, a former churchwarden and JP.

The bells were rehung at the same time with new fittings, assisted by a grant of £25 from the Essex Association of Change Ringers.

In March 1952 the bells were re-dedicated by the Bishop of Barking.

The names of Harold Hawkins (vicar), James Martin & Thomas Jacks (former occupant of Church Farm House) appear on the 4th bell.

The 5th bell bears the names of Thomas Banks and James Martin

The tenor bell (the heaviest in the tower at 91/4 cwt.) is inscribed with the names of the churchwardens of the time, John Pegrum and John Walker.

The first peal on six bells was rung in December 1952 (five peals have been rung since 1986 in the tower by different guild members, calling different methods, the latest being on Jan. 15th, 2005 which lasted 2hr. 37minutes and was conducted by David Salter, Oxford DG, of 5040 Surprise Minor).

The bells were rung from the ground floor until 1971 when the new ringing chamber floor was installed, courtesy of a bequest from a former resident, who had emigrated to the USA.

Of course, we also possess a set of handbells which has been expanded over the years. These have been rung on several occasions, including flower festivals and carol services, requiring entirely different techniques from campanology.


Ringers & Works

The first golden age for real ringing activity in the 6-bell tower started in the early 1950s. (Previously local ringers were attracted to either St Peter’s Roydon which already housed 6 bells or Potter Street). Bill Aley was featuring even then!

Ben Burton (ringer and captain in Roydon) and Charlie Sams (whose era stretched from 1948-72) were prime movers then. Of course, today their memories and continuing ringing are still with our team (of which more later!)

Peals and quarter peals have been rung to mark special occasions – wedding anniversaries, royal occasions, inductions and in memory of those passing away.

Over the years the tower has been blessed with many good, loyal ringers, with several local families playing key roles.

Our current team (between 8 and 10 on most practice nights) is blessed with great humour, varying ages and experience.

Ringing is often interrupted by strange cries of “BOB”, “SINGLE”, but the worst to be experienced is “STAND”, shouted angrily by the conductor. At that point, it is advisable to avert your gaze from either Bill, Stuart or Jim, and hope that the mistake wasn’t yours!

The latest major work was undertaken in 2007 when key parts to the 5th bell were repaired (the bell was found to be moving on its gudgeon pins). Finance was raised to cover the costs. Inevitably we face more expenditure in the future, with the 2nd probably the next bell to receive wheel and other treatment.

Let’s hope that grants, the Manser Trust and other donations will enable the bells to be rung across the valley as a call to worship and celebration for many years to come. 

Brian Starling 

(one of the band of ringers)