Hurstpierpoint looking to the north east

Hurstpierpoint looking North East


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Hurstpierpoint Church Handbell Ringers


The origin of the Hurstpierpoint Handbells is lost in the mists of time, but a record from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry states that "an additional 5 bells were supplied on 26th February 1894 to the Reverend K MacDermott of 2, North Terrace, Hurstpierpoint, at a cost of £2. 0s 0d." An image of the record for the transaction, plus another of the same date, can be displayed by clicking here. Interestingly, William Bartholomew Davey is in one of the old photographs hanging in the Ringing Chamber in the Tower.

As long ago as 1915, at The Scallywags Club in Hurst, Miss Caroline Hannington, daughter of Bishop Hannington, trained the village lads to ring handbells. Mr George Anscombe, born in 1903, and who died when in his late 90's, was the last surviving member of the original band.

We know that during World War 2, the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) made use of the bells to inform village folk of possible air raids. In 1959, the bells, in varying states of disrepair were presented back to the church by Mr Ted Arnold, once butler at Danny House in Hurstpierpoint, although how they came into his care is not clear. It was then necessary to have the bells re-cast and they have been in regular use ever since.

In the late 1950's and early 60's, handbell ringing in Hurst was under the supervision of Stan and Harry Brown, (the Brown Twins), who with their families and other ringers, raised money for charity, entertained many groups and organisations, using their own set of handbells, whilst the church handbells were awaiting refurbishment. Stan's widow, Rosemary, has only recently reluctantly retired from the band.

On 8th April 1960, the 10 old handbells were taken to Whitechapel Bell Foundry. They and 4 more were collected, fully refurbished at a cost of £76.14s 4d, on 29th September 1962. Six additional bells were purchased on 13th February 1965 at a cost of £34.18s 0d. and at the AGM in 1965, it was agreed to purchase 2 more bells, making 22 in total. During the 70's and 80's, other Handbell Masters also took responsibility and handbell ringing in Hurstpierpoint continued to thrive.

In 1984, some 24years after the bells had returned to the possession of the church, they were cleaned, repaired and refurbished by Whitechapel once more, at a cost of £343.97. More than enough money for this work was raised in September that year at a coffee morning in the Rectory garden and the decision to buy one more bell (11G#) was made.

In 2001, the current band worked to raise over £ 2,500 to have the bells refurbished by Whitechapel Bell Foundry. In addition 2 new bells were purchased to augment the existing 23 and provide the current fully chromatic 25 bells (18G - 4G) and 2 carrying cases.

In November 2011, a top A bell was purchased to complement our existing two octaves and enable us to play all the notes in some of our Christmas Carols. In addition, we are having the bells re-assessed at Whitechapel Bell Foundry to ensure that they are maintained in perfect condition and we produce the best music we can. We are now once more fund-raising to meet our costs.

Today's band comprises 10 ringers, currently all women, who practise and perform tune ringing. We have a large repertoire of music hall, folk and popular classical tunes, which we ring for pleasure, to entertain local groups and for charity. Practice night is on Tuesday throughout the year, with a summer break in July and August.

If you would like to join us, or find out more, please contact the Handbell Secretary.

Scallywags Club, 1915

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The Handbell Band at work

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