Copyright Wambrook Parish church 2020.
Bells and bell ringing, otherwise known as the art of “Campanology”, have been a part of Wambrook Church since 1552, but it is likely that there were bells in the Church before that first recorded date.
Originally there were four bells. They were made up of one Tenor, two Sacring bells (see definition below) and one Lych bell. Today there are five bells comprising, the ‘Tenor’ which is the heaviest at some 406 Kg, (8 cwt) and has a diameter just under one metre, (3 ft). The original ‘Tenor’ was cast at the Bristol Foundry of Thomas Jefferies circa 1509 - 1546. In 1892, both the current ‘Treble’ and 2nd bell were re-cast from the original ‘Tenor’ by the foundry of John Warner in London, but there is information to suggest that the work may have been done at the Exeter foundry.
The oldest bell now in the Tower is the 3rd which was cast in Bristol by De Ropeford. The De Ropeford foundry, can be traced back to circa 1285. The 4th bell was also cast by the De Ropeford family in the 14th century. It is likely that the 3rd and 4th bells are the oldest in the locale.
There are inscriptions on some of the bells namely, the ‘Tenor’ - “Sancta Maria ora pro Noblis”, the 3rd, - “Maria Plena Gracia” and the 4th - “Sanct Andrea is mi name”.
The bells have been rung from those early days, with the exception of a 20 year gap from 1974, when the oak supporting beams, were declared unsafe. The beams were finally replaced in 1994 and some four years later, the bell ropes were replaced by a gift from Mr V Larcombe, in memory of his beloved wife Rose.
Dennis, the current ‘Captain of the Tower’, started his bell ringing skills over fifty years ago, becoming ‘Captain’ in 1995. He has happily passed on his skills of campanology over the years, with a dozen bellringers now active in Wambrook alone. Two people from the village have recently qualified in the art and newcomers are always welcome. The nearby town of Crewkerne has some seven members who learnt their skills under the Wambrook Captain.
A ‘Sacring Bell’ (from the medieval Sanctus), refers to a bell suspended in the top or apex of the Nave, over the Chancel Arch, or the Church Tower. The Sacring bell, was rung at the singing of the ‘Sanctus’ and again at the liturgy, (elevation) of the elements, to remind those not already at Church, that the moment of consecration had been reached. The term and the practice remains in common use today.
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