Ringing competition to mark 50 years since Wymondham Abbey’s bells were installed

A bell ringer at Wymondham Abbey. Picture: Courtesy of Wymondham Abbey

A bell ringer at Wymondham Abbey. Picture: Courtesy of Wymondham Abbey - Credit: Archant

It is a tradition that calls people to prayer, celebrates weddings and is also said to have the power to drive out demons.

A recast bell in 1967 just before it was installed at Wymondham Abbey. Picture: Courtesy of Wymondha

A recast bell in 1967 just before it was installed at Wymondham Abbey. Picture: Courtesy of Wymondham Abbey - Credit: Archant

And now a special celebration is planned to mark 50 years since ringers started sounding the bells that sit in Wymondham Abbey's tower.

Bell ringers from across the Diocese of Norwich will come together to take part in a ringing competition on Sunday, July 30 to celebrate the anniversary of the day 10 bells were installed at the abbey.

Hayden Charles, the abbey's ringing master, said: 'It is a real privilege to have one of the finest-sounding rings of bells in the diocese. We think that the Whitechapel foundry may have used them as a prototype for Westminster Abbey bells, cast a few years later.

'These days ringing competitions are very much social occasions, so we are pleased to invite ringers to celebrate.'


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The smallest bell in the tower weighs about a quarter of a ton, and the largest is over one-and-a-quarter tons, or about the same as a medium-sized family car.

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History of the bells

In 1731 there was an advertisement for a competition at Wymondham when there were just five bells. The landlord of the White Swan gave a prize of five pairs of gloves for the winning team, but stipulated: 'Note, the gloves are to be rung for, not sworn for.'

In those days gambling on the results of bell competitions was common and unruly crowds could be attracted.

In 1903 the five old bells, which had not been rung for about 100 years, were augmented to eight.

July 1967 saw the culmination of an extensive project with major repairs to the West Tower.

The eight old bells had become difficult to ring, with many of the fittings very worn.

A decision was made to re-cast the eight bells and to add two new ones.

The competition will run from 2.15pm to 4.45pm.

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