[Bell Historians] Sanctus and Angelus bells

John Camp camp at b...
Sat Aug 14 12:23:52 BST 2004

At 10:03 on 14 August 2004, David Beacham wrote:
> As the originator of this topic I hope that David will allow me a final
> comment. First, to thank those who have responded with information about
> current C of E practice. As DAC bells advisor it is something that I felt I
> needed to know more about, particularly because I am currently considering
> what advice to offer an Anglo-Catholic church in my patch. My question about
> "legal" practices was a serious one that seems to have been answered by
> Andrew Wilby's reference to a decision by the St Alban's Diocesan
> Chancellor. The point being that can I recommend something that is not,
> strictly speaking, "legal"? Do the Canons of the Church say anything about
> it?

The only references to bells in the Canons of the C of E are these:

B 11 (bell to be rung for morning and evening prayer)

C 11 (bell to be rung by priest after induction)

F 8 Of church bells

1. In every church and chapel there shall be provided at least one
bell to ring the people to divine service.

2. No bell in any church of chapel shall be rung contrary to the
direction of the minister.

F 15 Of churches not to be profaned.

1. The churchwardens and their assistants shall not suffer the church
or chapel to be profaned by any meeting therein for temporal objects
inconsistent with the sanctity of the place, not the bells to be rung
at any time contrary to the direction of the minister.

I think that the case mentioned by Andrew Wilby concerned a sanctuary
bell, which is a slightly different matter. (I do not have immediate
access to anything other than a reference in an index about this case,
but I can find out more next week by asking the Registrar or
Chancellor.) I cannot see that the hanging of a bell in a tower can
ever be illegal in itself (provided the proper formalities have been
gone through). It might be illegal under Canon B 5 for a minister to
use a bell for certain purposes, though this is unlikely to apply to
its use as a sanctus bell. A lot of Anglican churches use a bell for
this purpose, as this correspondence has shown.

(Canon B 5: "... all forms of service ... shall be neither contrary
to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church
of England in any essential matter.")

It's a curious phenomenon, but non-lawyers are always more legalistic
about these things than lawyers.

John Camp

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