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The Bells of St Bartholomew's Church, Quorn

Loughborough Echo - 5th April 1935

The fine turreted tower of Quorn Church is in the perpendicular style, and was a late fourteenth century addition. Here, in the reign of Edward the Sixth, it is recorded that there were "three great belles and a litell bell".

At a later period when a wave of enthusiasm for change ringing swept over the whole country, most churches made a great effort to increase the number of their bells. Frequently the money was not forthcoming for the purchase of new bells, and the alternative plan was adopted of re-casting the old ones and in this way completing a peal of smaller bells.

It is probable that this process was carried out at Quorn in 1773. In this year a ring of five was formed and four years later a sixth bell was added. The inscription on the shoulder of this bell affords the information that "a public inscription placed me here", while on the rim is recorded the fact that "Edward Arnold, St Neots, Huntingdonshire, cast us all six".

A letter from the bell ringers to the churchwardens has recently been unearthed in the old parish chest by the Vicar of Quorn, Canon H H Rumsey. This letter throws an interesting light on business methods in vogue in the eighteenth century. It was addressed to the churchwardens, Edward Farnham, Esq., and Mr James Sculthorpe, at Quorndon, Leicestershire.

The letter is a request, very politely worded, for a settlement of the account for the recasting of the bells in the previous year. One interesting fact revealed is that business men of the period avoided, whenever possible, the use of the primitive postal service then in existence for the purpose of sending money. Mr Edward Arnold writes as follows:

When it sutes you to pay the money due to me for the bells, please to pay it to Miss Jane Beale, Southgate Street, Leicester and her receipt shall be as discharge from me. If any alteration is required, I will, upon receiving a line, take the first opportunity of comeing over and do whatever is desired. I expect my wife will be at Leicester about the 17th or 18th inst. If convenient by that time I should be obliged to you as she can bring it home, and I never chuse to have bills by the post this way if I can help it.
I am,
Your most humble servant
Edward Arnold
St Neots, June 11th, 1774

This courteous letter received the prompt attention of the churchwardens with the result that Mr James Sculthorpe mounted his horse and, armed to the teeth, and accompanied by a stalwart groom, rode to Leicester and personally delivered the money. He returned with the receipt made out on a leaf of the original letter:

June 24th 1774
Received then of Edward Farnham, Esq., ye sum of 66 13s 4d by the hands of Mr James Sculthorpe in full for new casting ye bells of Quorndon. In full of all accounts by order of Edward Arnold
Signed by one Mary Arnold.

It is interesting to note that a mistake was made in the inscription on one of the bells which was written "Mos adest Para" (Death is here, prepare), the missing letter (r) being chiselled above at some later date to remedy the founder's blunder.

The present ring of eight was completed by the presentation of two bells in 1886 by the late Mr W E B Farnham of Quorn House, this providing a further instance of the long association of this old family with Quorn church. These bells were cast by Messrs J W Taylor and Sons at Loughborough.

In September of last year, the bells were re-hung on ball bearings, the pivots were renewed and other necessary repairs and replacements were carried out. An expenditure of 120 was involved which was raised by public subscription.

On entering the Quorn belfry attention is immediately attracted by the quaintly worded tablet which seems to belong to an earlier period:
"Praise God for Thomas Herbert,
Steeple Keeper and Ringer
After such long and faithful service Thomas Herbert was almost regarded as a church institution, and it was some time before the parishioners could fully accustom themselves to the melancholy fact that this ancient sexton was no longer at hand.

Another tablet is in memory of two bell ringers, Edward Basil Langrish, and Albert Edward Rennocks, who were both killed in the war. By a strange coincidence, although they were not serving in the same unit or in the same area, they were both killed on the same day, little more than a month before the armistice.

A notable peal is commemorated by a third tablet in the belfry. On December 1st 1898, a peal of Kent Treble Bob Majors, 9120 changes, was rung in five hours, 38 minutes by members of the Midland Counties Association of Bell Ringers. This was composed by Mr J Lockwood and was conducted by Mr J W Taylor, jnr., one of the members of the bank being "Dicky" Lane, the Loughborough bell ringer.

Interesting processions were organised on Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday, 1905, by the Vicar of Quorn, the Rev. E. Foord Kelcey. A round of the village was made, and at seven halting places, the first of which was the Cross, the vicar gave a short address and a hymn was sung. Important members of the procession were six of the bell ringers, who rang a short peal with hand bells at each of the stopping places.

The formation of a Ringers' Guild in 1911 had unfortunate consequences which could never have been foreseen. This was started for the excellent purpose of training bell ringers so that when vacancies occurred in the band a trained man would be available. Unfortunately the old ringers misunderstood the purpose of the Guild, and, although every effort was made to induce them to continue, they resigned in a body before the end of the year.

This was the end of the old regime. Their places were taken by members of the Guild consisting of Robert Bancroft, Alfred Burrows, Thomas Herbert, George Horspool, Albert Rennocks, Albert Thompson, Bertie Maiden and John Martin. The only remaining members of the Guild today are Robert Bancroft and George Horspool, who has been secretary since the war, and assumed the leadership of the band on the retirement of Mr Alfred Burrows in 1924. One of the leading members for many years was Mr W H Inglesant, who rang in the world's record peal at Loughborough in 1909.

It is interesting to note that in the list of members compiled in 1927 appear the names of several members of the "weaker" sex, who are not usually associated with the strenuous art of bell ringing. They were recruited during the war period and included the Misses Burrows, G Gamble, M Gamble and L Dutton. In 1917 an item in the expenditure reveals that the sum of five shillings was sent to all members of the band on active service. Furthermore a pound of sweets was sent to each man, an addition which was probably suggested by the feminine members of the band.

The curfew was rung at Quorn until a comparatively recent period and was discontinued about the time when Quorn was formed into a separate ecclesiastical parish. Until the war a bell was rung at the conclusion of the morning service. The origin of this custom might seem a little obscure, but the late steeple keeper, Thomas Herbert, had no doubt about the matter and always affirmed that the bell was rung to inform the public houses that service was over and they were free to open their doors.

The old sexton's view, according to authentic information appears to be correct, and therefore the ringing of this bell is a relic of an earlier age, and an old custom whichis unlikely to be revived.

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 Submitted on: 2010-01-27
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 728
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.

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