Bells and Bell Ringers

The Bells

St. Andrew’s has a ring of 8 bells which is regarded as one of the best in Somerset. There is a very active band of ringers whose ages range from early twenties to early eighties. The bells are rung for all 10.15am and most 6.15pm services, and there is a regular practice on Wednesday evening. They are also rung for weddings (when requested), and for other local and national occasions. The ringers also assist with access to the tower for other events, such as Church Days and fetes.

The tower of St Andrew’s Backwell was erected circa 1470 and contains a first class ring of eight bells.  They are hung for English change ringing, a traditional mode of church bell ringing in which the bells are rung by swinging them “full circle” through nearly 360 degrees.  The bells are sounded in a series of “rows” i.e. varying sequences of the eight notes of the scale.  Each row contains each bell’s note once only, and each row must differ from every other row within a “touch” i.e. a performance.

Existing bells - lower frameThe picture left shows the two rows mounted within the lower frame. The picture lower left shows the treble bell which is mounted above the lower frame.

The bells' ages vary, the treble and second being added to the original six by Taylors of Loughborough in 1938.  Numbers 3 and 6 were recast by T Meons in 1820.  The 4th and 5th are medieval, the 4th cast by H Jefferies of Bristol, listed by the Council for the Care of Churches, the 5th pre-Reformation with the Latin inscription "Sancte Luca  ora pro nobis" (St Luke pray for us).

Numbers 7 and 8 were both recast by Evans of Chepstow in 1798 both CCC listed, with the tenor bell weighing 17cwt 3qrs 9lbs, and its inscription includes the names of the Churchwardens at the time, Edward Bullock and John Clark, with the homely "I sound to bid the sick repent in hopes of life when death is spent".

Evans was not averse to publicity, and the 7th is inscribed "Billy and Boosh may come and see what Evans and Nott have done by me", a possible disparaging reference to our local (quite famous) bellfounder and his bellhanger whose foundry was sited at nearby Chew Stoke.

The Bell Ringers

St Andrew’s bell ringers have had success over many years in local and Diocesan bell ringing competitions. The team from St Andrew’s Church are regularly in the finals of the Bath and Wells Diocesan six-bell competition and have been in the top two teams for the last three years and winning in 2015. Ringers from the St Andrew's band have also been invited to  ring in peals for special occasions at both St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

Pictured left are the 2015 winning bell ringing team in the ringing room within the tower.

Two New Bells

Two new bells were cast on St Andrew's Day 2017 and will be hung in the bell tower during 2018. The new bells form part of a strategy to maintain St Andrew’s Backwell as a centre of excellence for bell ringing across North Somerset - more details available here.

New Bells 2017-18
Two new bells are to be hung in the tower during 2018.