[Bell Historians] Early paid ringing

Richard Smith richard@ex-parrot.com [bellhistorians] bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Mon May 19 15:32:00 BST 2014

I thought I would share a very early reference to paid 
ringing that I thought was quite interesting.  I happened to 
reading the 1506 will of Sir Henry Rogers of Bryanston, 
Dorset at the weekend, and it contains the following 
bequest:  "I bequeth to the parrish church of Blanford vj s 
viij d and to the Ryngars that shall ryng continually the 
moneth duryng xl d."

Presumably this is for ringing during the month following 
his death, even though he was to be buried in Bryanston not 
Blandford.  The church in queston must be the old church at 
Blandford Forum rather than Blanford St Mary as the latter 
church received a separate bequest.

This seems significant for a number of reasons.  First, and 
somewhat incidentally, 1506 is earlier than any reference in 
Dalton's Dorset to bells at Blandford Forum.  Second, 40d is 
a substantial amount of money, albeit for a whole month. 
When I've seen paid ringing in church accounts from this 
period, it's generally been a small number of pence. 
Third, the idea of a whole month's ringing is new to me, 
even for something as significant as a coronation.  And 
fourth, this is the earliest record I've come across for 
paid ringing outside church accounts.

The document is quite short.  He bequeaths tapers [candles] 
to be put before a particular altar, and provides for meat, 
drink and 2d to every poor person to attend his funeral and 
"monethes mynde" [one month anniversary of his funeral]; but 
the bells are the only other part of funeral arrangements to 
be mentioned specifically.  Presumably he either felt it was 
important enough (or unusual enough) to warrant an explicit 



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