Saint James

 Bells & Bellringing

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The Bells

The peal of eight bells are a very significant memorial. The old Church had only a single bell and although the tower of the new Church was built in 1913, it was not until 1921 that it was able to boast a peal of bells. They were given by Sir David and Lady Rutherford of Powis Court in memory of their son , as the inscription on the tenor bell confirms:-
"To the glory of God and in loving memory of their dear son, Lieut David Alfred Rutherford, MC  RGA  killed in Ireland October 1920, these eight bells were presented by Mr & Mrs D C Rutherford, of this parish".

The bells range in weight from three to eleven hundredweight:-
           Cwt. Qrts. Lbs.
Tenor   11      2      3
7th          9      1    16
6th          7      2      7
5th          6      1    12
4th          5      1      9
3rd          4      3      4
2nd         4      0    12
Treble    3      3      7

They were cast and hung by  Mears and Stainbank of the Whitechapel Foundry and were dedicated by the Bishop of St Albans on 29th October 1921. After the service, members of the Herts Association of Bell Ringers rang the Stedmans' Triples, 504 changes in all, conducted by Mr Maurice Herbert.

It was Sir David's custom to invite the ringers to his house for a meal on 3lst December before they went on to the church to ring out the Old Year and ring in the New.  For ringing out the Old Year the bells were muffled by strapping a leather pad on one side of the bell clapper so giving a dull and mournful sound at every other stroke.  At midnight the pads were removed and the bells rang out in their full strength.  Unhappily this practice had to cease because bells at midnight, even once a year, were not welcomed by the ever-increasing and largely secular local populace.

Bell-ringers, according to the Church Times, are traditionally long-lived, which the St Peter's ringers seem to confirm. Tom Norris was the tower master for over sixty years from 1928 to 1990  accompanied for much of this time by his wife, Nellie. Their two children were also ringers. Fred Morris began ringing in the  St Peter's tower in 1931 and finished in 1999, with his son on another rope! He recalled when there were four Norris' and two Morris' all ringing at the same time!