History of St. Faith’s Bells
The original tower was built around 1500 and rebuilt in 1889.
Records show that in 1549 the tower had two bells, with a new bell cast in 1636-40, but then there are no records and the bells disappeared.
In 1714, five new bells, currently numbered 3, 4, 5, 6 & 8, were cast by Richard Phelps of London. In 1723, the Whitechapel foundry cast bell number 7 and this ring of six bells were rung with no further changes for 180 years.
In 1876, a donation by Sir F W Fitzwygram increased the ring by two new bells, numbers 1 & 2 which were cast by the Warner Bros. foundry in London.
In 1895, number 7 bell was recast; in 1896, number 6 and in 1930, numbers 4 & 8 were recast, all by Mears and Stainbank, leaving bells 3 & 5 as the originals cast in 1714 and still ringing today.
In 1973, all the bells were sent to the Taylors foundry in Loughborough for overhaul and re-tuning; the wheels, headstocks and bearings were replaced. The original plain bearings were replaced by ball bearings allowing much easier ringing and the bells were quarter turned to enable a different part of the bell to be struck. The work took 6 months and was the longest time that they had been silent since the 18th century, apart from the war; the cost was £1,872. The 8 bells in the tower give a full octave of tones in the key of E.
The art of Church Bell Ringing is well practised at St. Faith’s by a dedicated team of men and women ringers whose ages range from 17 to 75. Notable peals through the centuries are:
On 11 January 1806, a 2-hour peal was rung for the funeral of Lord Nelson.
On 26 November 1815, bells were rung to celebrate the victory at Waterloo.
On 16 February 1903, a peal of 5,040 changes of Grandsire Triples was rung in 2 hours 57 minutes.
On 13 October 1977, a peal of 5,040 changes of Plain Bob Triples was rung in 2 hours 56 minutes.
On 13 July 1988, a quarter peal of 1,260 changes of Grandsire Triples was rung for the 80th birthday of Sir Alec Rose, the round-the-world yachtsman.
On 25 May 2007, a quarter peal of 1,260 Plain Bob Triples in 48 minutes were rung on the 25th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Coventry during the Falklands War.
On 17 June 2006, Rounds and Call Changes were rung on the occasion of HM Queen Elizabeth the Second’s official 80th birthday (actual: 21 April 1926). There is a signed letter in the tower from the Queen thanking the ringers for this and is reproduced below.
On 25 May 2012 a quarter peal of 1,260 Plain Bob Triples in 48 minutes were rung on the 30th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Coventry during the Falklands War.
On 5 June 2012, 60 minutes of ringing was undertaken to celebrate 60 years of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.
On 27 July 2012, the bells were rung for 3 minutes from 08.12am-08.15am as part of the nationwide bell ringing for the start of the Olympic Games awarded to the city of London.
On 25 May 2013 a quarter peal of 1,260 Plain Bob Doubles were rang in 44 minutes by members of the Royal Naval Guild of Bellringers on the anniversary of the sinking of HMS COVENTRY during the Falklands War and Drummer Lee Rigby who died on 23 May 2013.
On 25 May 2014 a quarter peal of 1,260 Plain Bob Triples in 48 minutes were rung on the 30th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Coventry during the Falklands War.
On 4 August 2014 a quarter peal was rung to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the commencement of World War I.
On 4 October 2014 a full peal was rung as two of the bells were 300 years old, numbers 3 & 5. It was also dedicated to Barbara Skilleter, Captain of the Bellringers for 18 years who passed away two days before the full peal.
On 29 November 2014 the Royal Navy Guild of Bell Ringers rang a quarter peal of 1,344 Grandsire Triplets in 50 minutes in loving memory of Barbara Skilleter, member of the guild and Tower Captain at this tower for 18 years.
On 3 September 2016 a quarter peal was rung in honour of three Havant men who gave their lives at the Battle of the Somme, in August 1916. Sergeant Henry W Hooker (died 9 August 1916); Private Cecil Ernest Skinner (died 9 August 2016); Private John Teague (died 20 August 2016).
A full peal on 8 bells consists of 5,040 changes of sequence of seven of the bells, with the eighth bell, the Tenor, always ringing last with no sequence being repeated during the peal. It is quite a feat of accuracy and concentration and lasts for 3 hours.
A quarter peal of 1,260 is the number of changes, not repeated, with no stops and lasts for 45 minutes.
A quarter peal is run each year, except in 2020 due to COVID restrictions, on 25 May in memory of the ship’s company of HMS Coventry lost in the Falkland Islands war of 1982 and on 1 June in memory of the ship’s company of HMS Havant lost at Dunkirk in 1940.
In the July 1930 edition of the “Havant Parish Church Magazine”, it is recorded that “the bells are being re-hung this week. The Tenor (number 8) weighing 15cwt and the 4th, 6½cwt, having been re-cast, and the others thoroughly overhauled, repaired and re-adjusted as necessary. On the Tenor and 4th, the original lettering has been reproduced with the record of the re-casting in addition, just as was done when the 7th was re-cast in 1895, and the 6th in 1896”.
|Bell||Date||Cast By||Weight(cwt – qtr – lbs)||Weight (Kg)|
|1 (Treble)||1876||John Warner||4 – 1 – 3||222|
|2||1876||John Warner||4 – 2 – 10||233|
|3||1714||Richard Phelps||5 – 1 – 8||270|
|4||1930||Mears & Stainbank||6 – 0 – 0||305|
|5||1714||Richard Phelps||8 – 1 – 0||420|
|6||1896||Mears & Stainbank||8 – 1 – 22||430|
|7||1896||Mears & Stainbank||10 – 2 – 0||534|
|8 (Tenor)||1930||Mears & Stainbank||15 – 0 – 25||775|
Note: The Church clock strikes the hours on the largest bell – No. 8 & No. 7 is used as the Sanctus bell for church services.
See also Bell Ringers