[Bell Historians] The Leeds handbells - a suggestion

David Cawley dave at d...
Fri May 30 11:32:44 BST 2003

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A good and worthy idea of CJP's, so I've followed suit on the "Put me down =
for =A3x if required" basis. It shouldn't break the bank if all members of=
the List felt able to make a contribution.

Oh yes, the point about handbells lying around and being "lost" is now well=
made. I remember three other such sets - one lot used to hang in the ring=
ing chamber at St Alphege, Canterbury and long ante-dated the augmentation =
of the bells there to six in 1893/4. They (12 I think) were quite black an=
d had 18th-century type clappers with long unfelted spade-ended springs, an=
d disappeared about 1960 when the then ringing room was being decorated. A=
nother set I remember hanging quite unguarded in the ground-floor ringing c=
hamber at Wiggenhall St Mary in Norfolk - subsequently I remember reading i=
n the comic that they had been stolen. A third lot must have been in a hand=
some box in the old ringing chamber at Upper Sheringham, Norfolk. I went t=
here in the mid-70's to inspect the chiming apparatus which had been put in=
(and rendered the "unrigable" bells actually unringable) and there was thi=
s fine box, with an inscribed brass plate, handsomely fitted out inside - a=
nd just two large handbells in poor condition.....

No doubt the story can be repeated again and again. And where do they go, a=
nd what is the story behind some of the second-hand we now possess? For exa=
mple, in the posession of the Church of All Saints, Whitstable (in which pa=
rish both I and John Baldwin used to live), there is a box of 39 Mears hand=
bells, largest 29C. The box has a handsome plate inscribed CITY OF GLASGOW=
/ HAND BELL RINGERS / 1854 - how it came to be in the tower at Whitstable =
even our oldest ringer didn't know. Anyone got anything on the City of Gla=
sgow handbell ringers ?

----- Original Message -----=20
From: Chris Pickford=20
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com=20
Cc: David Brookes=20
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2003 10:00 AM
Subject: [Bell Historians] The Leeds handbells - a suggestion

Whatever the issues of principle here - these bells were clearly misappro=
priated if not stolen, as it seems unlikely that the church/ringers authori=
sed alienation from the church - there may be little option but to bite the=
bullet and buy them back. To establish proof of ownership, to trace their=
whereabouts over 60 years and offer certainty that they were never lawfull=
y disposed of may be impossible.=20
As Anne Willis has already discovered, the dealer who has them now bought=
them from another dealer. At the Leeds end, the aged verger seems pretty =
sure about what happened to them though (to deal with Aidan's point) it's m=
ore likely that the parish quietly forgot about them rather than claim on t=
he church insurance for the loss. Without Sid's long memory, all recollect=
ion of them would have been lost altogether.

I gather from David Brookes that they have come to the conclusion that th=
ey will need to establish a "buyback fund" to recover the bells and that he=
intends to raise this at the PCC meeting next week.
Doesn't this case offer an opportunity for this List to be of practical a=
ssistance by securing funds to recover the bells? I have already offered Da=
vid a contribution if it be needed. Would other list members be willing to =
contribute too? It would be good to take positive action to match the stro=
ng sentiments on this issue that have been expressed already on Bellhistori=

Offers of support can be sent direct to David at dcbrookes at b...

Chris Pickford
Tel: 01732-456147 or (mobile) 07811-453525
E-mail: c.j.pickford at t...

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