Bellringers

St Martin's Bellringers

St Martin's Bellringers aim to ring the church bells on Sunday mornings before the 10.30am service. We also ring for other services if possible, and if requested we will toll a bell before funerals, and ring after weddings.
Our practice night is on Mondays, 7.30pm – 9pm, and when appropriate we hold silent practices for learners at a time that suits those involved.
We will also ring for other occasions, such as prior to the church fete, and sometimes to mark local or national events we may perform a special piece of ringing called a quarter peal, which is approximately 45 minutes of continuous ringing.
Occasionally visiting bands of ringers will arrange to ring on our bells, although this is infrequent.
Many of our bellringers are members of the Leicester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, which aims to promote and advance ringing in Leicestershire. Desford is part of the Hinckley district of the Guild, and the monthly meeting of the district is held at St Martin's about once every 18 months. During this meeting ringers from the district come together to practice, learn new ringing techniques, and to share knowledge and expertise.

About the tower and bells

Prior to 1912 there were at least three bells in the tower. The inscriptions of those bells were reproduced on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th bells of the current ring of six. The three old bells were dated 1675, 1658 and 1609.
The current bells were cast by Taylors of Loughborough in 1912.

Bell

Diameter

Weight

cwt-qr-lb

Inscription

Treble

2' 1½”

65cm

3-1-17

173kg

RING IN THE TRUE

IN MEMORY OF

JOSEPH HALFORD GOODACRE

1912

2nd

2' 3½”

70cm

4-1-6

219kg

GOD SAVE THE KING 1675

RECAST 1912

IN MEMORY OF

JOSEPH HALFORD GOODACRE

3rd

2' 5½”

75cm

4-2-25

240kg

IESUS BEE OUR SPEED 1658

RECAST 1912

IN MEMORY OF

JOSEPH HALFORD GOODACRE

4th

2' 7”

79cm

5-3-7

295kg

NEWCOMBE OF LEICESTER MADE MEE 1609

RECAST 1912

IN MEMORY OF

JOSEPH HALFORD GOODACRE

5th

2' 10½”

88cm

7-0-24

367kg

GOD BLESS HIS CHURCH

IN MEMORY OF

JOSEPH HALFORD GOODACRE

1912

Tenor

3' 3”

99cm

10-2-9

538kg

GUARD AND BLESS OUR FATHERLAND

IN MEMORY OF

JOSEPH HALFORD GOODACRE

1912

 

The bells hang in a two tier cast iron frame, with the treble or lightest bell sited alone on the top level. They are at louvre height in the tower (the windows just below the spire with wooden slats) although there is sound control, fitted in the 2000s, which prevents them from being too noisy.

 

 

 

 

In the room below the bells is the clock. Dating from the 1630s – 1640s it is a type known as a blacksmith clock as it was probably made by a local blacksmith rather than a dedicated clockmaker. Some of the wheels are of a later date as they are made of brass which was not used until after the 1750s. More pictures can be found on our Gallery page
 

 

 

 

The clock strikes the hour using a separate 'clock hammer', sounding the number 4 bell. Before any ringing takes place the ringers have to hook the hammer off using a wire in the ringing room, to prevent any damage occuring.
The clock is still wound by hand, which the bellringers are responsible for, and needs winding every three days. The weights that power the clock descend into a boxed area in the ringing room below.
The ringing room is on the first floor and has a window on the west well (the floor bisects the lowest window in the tower, the bottom part of the window giving light to the choir vestry below). There is also a large window in the arch to the nave of the church, which is mostly obscured glass. Two small panes of plain glass allow the ringers to view the church, especially useful when judging when to start ringing at weddings.
 
 
The ringing room is accessed from the choir vestry by a steep wooden stair, emerging into the room via a trap door which must be closed whilst ringing is taking place. This seems to be quite a common arrangement in church towers in this area. There is no spiral stair in the tower, and higher floors are accessed by ladder. For this reason we are unable to show visitors any of the tower higher than the ringing room without prior arrangement.
 

Learning to ring

 
Several of our ringers have experience in teaching new recruits in the skill of bellringing. Like learning to drive a car, it can take between 6 and 12 months to achieve basic control and to be able to ring at a suitable standard to ring for services. There are always new things to learnt, however, and something different to try.
The bells are fitted with sensors which allow us to ring with a computer simulator. This is ideal for training new ringers, or for ringing at times outside our normal ringing times, as the bells are silenced and the computer provides the sound for us in the ringing room. With this system a single person can ring one bell and the computer provides a perfect band of ringers to ring with, or a group of people can ring and the computer just provides the sound.
We welcome anyone who is interested in learning to ring. The minimum age is 10 years old and there is no maximum age. You need to be able to climb the stairs to access the ringing room, and be able to raise your arms above your head, and grip and pull with at least one hand. No other skills are needed to get you started.
 

Contact us

Any enquiries, please contact Tower Captain: Greg Jones on 01455 824696 or Ringing Master: Mark Banner on 0116 2390481, or email: ringing 'at' thebanners.uk
Find us on Twitter @DesfordBellS