john ketteringham john.ketteringham at n...
Thu Jun 26 18:24:31 BST 2003

Burgh le Marsh

At Burgh-le-Marsh a field was given to pay for a new rope each year for the
tenor bell which is used to sound the curfew. This was in gratitude for the
deliverance of the "Mary Rose" which, in 1629, was guided to safety from
shipwreck by its sound.

It is said that the villagers had hoped to wreck the ship but the sexton
locked himself in the church and rang the tenor bell as a warning. When the
villagers eventually broke into the church they found the sexton lying dead,
the effort of tolling the bell being too much for him. The Master of the
ship, one Captain Frohock, settled in the village and is said to have
married the sexton's daughter. It was his land that became known as Bell
String Acre.

The bell is rung up to the balance and rung full-circle for the length of
time which it takes to recite Psalm 130 ( Out of the deep have I called unto
thee, O Lord). The bell is then rung down and chimed one stroke for each day
of the month.

The curfew at Burgh was rung until very recently when the ringer responsible
moved away from the town. I don’t know if anyone has taken over the task.

Lincoln Cathedral

The curfew appears to have been rung at Lincoln Cathedral since its
foundation although the first definite record is contained in two entries in
the Liber Niger (Black Book) which dates from c1260. The Cathedral
Accounts regularly record payments for ringing the Curfew and there seems
little doubt that the custom has been maintained throughout the existence of
the Cathedral. The two bells in the North West tower are chimed a total
of 101 times in the following manner.
One bell is rung 101 times less a number equivalent to the date of the month
and then the balance equivalent to the date of the month is chimed on the
other bell. For example on the 25th day of the month the first bell will be
chimed 76 times (101-25) and the second bell 25 times.

The reason for chiming the curfew 101 times is obscure but bearing in mind
the fact that the cathedra was first sited at Dorchester near Oxford and
that a number of early Bishops were translated from Oxford (including Bishop
Richard Fleming who founded 'The College of the Blessed Mary and All Saints,
Lincoln in the University of Oxford' in 1427 it is worth noting the manner
in which the Curfew (which is the signal for closing all the College gates)
is sounded at Oxford. Great Tom of Oxford is sounded every evening at five
minutes past nine for 101 strokes. One stroke is given for every student
attached to the original foundation of Christ Church which was founded in
1546 by Henry VIII. The Bishop of Lincoln at the time the College was
founded was John Langland Confessor to the King and he had also been
Chancellor of Oxford University since 1532. The number of strokes was
increased to 101 in 1664 when as a result of a bequest by William Thurston
the number of students was also increased to 101.

The Curfew at Lincoln Cathedral is rung at 8 pm in summer and 6 pm in

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