bellsThere were five bells in St Martin’s Church during the reign of Henry VIII but their weight and inscriptions are unknown.  In 1611 the Second Bell was cast and in 1657 the ring of the bells was converted into a peal of six at a cost of £50.

In 1781 the whole ring was recast from six old bells into eight, and two more were added in 1787.  In 1937 John Taylor and Son of Loughborough recast and rehung all 10 bells and added three new ones.  Apart from standard requirements, the bells have, through the ages, been used for some unusual announcements.  The Passing Bell, for instance, signalled the passing of a soul from this life to the next and could be rung at all hours of the day or night.  The Sanctus Bell was rung three times at the blessing of the bread and three more times after the blessing of the wine during the Office of the Mass or Eucharist.  The Curfew Bell, referred to as Bow-bell, was generally rung at 8.00pm but at St Martin’s it was 9.00pm.  The Morning Bell was rung as early as possible as far back as 1549 and was used as a call to daily work.

The Pancake Bell was sounded at Shrove-tide to call folk to confession and to warn housewives to use up all of the grease, lard and dripping before the abstinence of meat.  The women used this to make pancakes and the bell was used to summon households to eat at the sound of the Pancake Bell.

In peal ringing, a full peal is any number of changes rung over 5,000 without any repetition and lasts on average about three hours.  At the Cathedral, a peal of twelve bells takes about three and a half hours’ continuous ringing.  Our Cathedral is one of the few with a side chapel dedicated to St Dunstan, the patron saint of ringers.

The following is the full list of the inscriptions on the thirteen bells.  The old inscriptions which are inscribed on the shoulders or waists of the bells are shown in small type.

XII THE CORONATION BELL OF HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE VIth RECAST BY THE FREEMASONS OF LEICESTERSHIRE AND RUTLAND MAY 12th 1937.  F B MACNUTT PROVOST C F OLIVER PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTER GOD SAVE THE KING

H Watchorn Esq. Mayor J Nichols. W Capp Churchwardens Edwd. Arnold Fecit 1781

XI THE NORTH BELL RECAST BY ALDERMAN SIR JONATHAN NORTH J.P. MAYOR OF LEICESTER 1914-1918 and WILLIAM ALBERT NORTH J.P. HIGH SHERIFF OF LEICESTERSHIRE 1935-36. MAY 12th 1937 GOD SAVE CITY AND SHIRES

Recast by J Taylor and Co. 1879 Edward Arnold Fecit 1781 Thomas Ingram 1879

X THE BELL OF THE CONGREGATION RECAST BY THE CONGREGATION OF THE CATHEDRAL MAY 12th 1937 GOD SAVE HIS CHURCH

H Watchorn Esq. Mayor J Nichols. W Capp Churchwardens Edward Arnold Fecit 1781

IX THE SAMSON SMITH BELL RECAST BY SAMSON SMITH OF LEICESTER MAY 12th 1937 CHRIST IS RISEN ALLELUYA

H Watchorn Esq. Mayor J Nichols. W Capp Churchwardens Edwd. Arnold Fecit 1781

VIII THEJARVISBELL RECAST BY W[LLLAM GEORGE JARVIS CHURCHWARDEN AND DEPUTY WARDEN OF ST MARTINS MAY 12th 1937 ADESTE. FIDELES. GAUDETE. ORATE. Praise him upon the well tuned cymbals: Praise him upon the loud cymbals. 1781

VII THE PARTRIDGE BELL RECAST IN MEMORY OF SAMUEL STEADS PARTRIDGE J.P. BY HIS WIFE ELIZABETH PARTRIDGE May 12th 1937 GOD SEND US PEACE IN CHRIST

J Taylor & Co. Founders Loughborough MDCCCLXXIX Continentia THE STELFOX BELL (HALF-TONE) GIVEN IN MEMORY OF JAMES WALTER STELFOX, LAY CANON, CHURCHWARDEN AND DEPUTY WARDEN OF ST MARTINS BY HIS WIFE EVELYN MARSLAND STELFOX MAY 12th 1937 NON CLAMOR SED AMOR

VI THE DANIELS BELL RECAST BY SAMUEL KILWORTH DANIELS, LAY CANON OF ST MARTINS IN MEMORY OF HIS WIFE CAROLINE DANIELS MAY 12th 1937 IN HIS WILL IS OUR PEACE

V THE FIELDING JOHNSON BELL RECAST IN MEMORY OF THOMAS FIELDING JOHNSON MA, J.P. LAY CANON OF ST MARTINS AND HIS WIFE FLORENCE LYNE JOHNSON BY THEIR CHILDREN FLORENCE JULIA FIELDING EVERARD J.P. AGNES MIRIAM FIELDING JOHNSON, WILLIAM SPURRETT FIELDING JOHNSON MAY 12th 1937 PEACE TO THEM THAT ARE AFAR OFF AND TO THEM THAT ARE NIGH

Rev. Edward Thomas Vaughan Vicar, Henry Sharpe Jones. Joseph Simpkin Church Wardens. John Taylor & Son Bellfounders Loughborough Late of Oxford, Bideford Devon and St. Neots Hunts. Successors to the old and celebrated Founders Newcombe, Watts, Eyre and Arnold of Leicester. Names of high repute dating as early as 1560.

IV THE GERTRUDE ELLIS BELL RECAST IN MEMORY OF GERTRUDE ELLIS BY HER DAUGHTER FREDA LORRIMER AND HER NEICE KATHLEEN BROWNING MAY 12th 1937 JOHN TAYLOR AND SON FOUNDER OXFORD AND LOUGHBOROUGH A.D. 1854.

III THE BOWMAR BELL RECAST IN MEMORY OF WALTER HAMMOND BOWMAR BY HIS WIFE EVA BOWMAR MAY 12th 1937 JESU CHRISTE MISERERE NOBIS

John Taylor & Son Founders Loughborough A.D. 1854.

II THE JOHN EDWARD ELLIS BELL GIVEN IN MEMORY OF JOHN EDWARD ELLIS LAY CANON, CHURCHWARDEN AND DEPUTY WARDEN OF ST MARTINS BY HIS WIFE MABEL ELLIS AND HIS DAUGHTER FREDA LORRIMER AND HIS NIECE KATHLEEN BROWNING MAY 12th 1937 PRAISE GOD FOR BLESSED MARTIN, SOLDIER BISHOP SAINT

I THE BELLFOUNDERS BELL GIVEN BY E DENISON TAYLOR BELLFOUNDER LOUGHBOROUGH MAY 12th 1937

 

A booklet with a full history of our bells written by Peter J Staniforth is available at the Cathedral bookstall price £1.00.