St Michael & All Angels Church

Bell Tower

Men's Group



 

The bell ringers contribute to the worship at St Michael's, ringing every Sunday before the 11.0 a.m. service and at weddings and special occasions by prior arrangement. They announce to those around that the church is not just a heritage building, over 800 years old, but a place of worship. Frank, Ron & Tim

We are fortunate to have a team who are able to ring changes well, making a delightful variation from simply ringing 'rounds'.

On 29th September 2006, the feast of St Michael and All Angels, a quarter peal was rung to celebrate our Patronal Festival. The ringing took about 37 minutes and our thanks go to Phillip Hopkins of All Saints, Llanfrechfa, who took on the responsibility of acting as conductor and calling the quarter peal.

The regular members of the team include: David Everett, Tower Captain, Cliff Allen, Rhiannon Edwards, Tim Hallett, John Hopkins, Alan McGill, Don Morgan, Jane O'Hara, Ron Prosser, Zoe Reynolds and Frank Wotman. Plus occasional help from John Challenger, a regular bell-ringer at our neighbouring church - All Saints, Llanfrechfa .

Alan, John and Tim
The Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP, now Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was the guest of the bell ringing team of St Michael and All Angels Church, Llantarnam, when they inaugurated six new bell ropes fitted thanks to a grant of £500 from the Welsh Church Fund. The old ropes were twenty years old and had become unsafe to use. David and Paul Murphy
A short service in the ringing chamber was conducted by the then Team Vicar at St Michael's, Revd Gareth Evans. During the Service, Mr Murphy read a short lesson and the new bell ropes were blessed. After the service, The Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP, is a local resident and enjoys the pleasure of hearing the bells on Sunday mornings while he is relaxing at home. (Though not very often these days!) He was shown the intricacies of ringing a bell and then the ringing team demonstrated their prowess. The Service was followed by the cutting of a specially made cake and a celebration glass of bubbly! David and Frank
We are looking for new recruits, there is no age limit, ringers come in all shapes and sizes. Bell ringing is not hard work and this is particularly so as our bells are the lightest in the area. It is good fun, a rewarding hobby that involves being part of a team and also provides a service to the church while learning something new. Ron, John and Tim
On Saturday 3 April 2004 the Tower was host to about 50 ringers from far and wide including Grantham, Nottingham, Exeter, Foots Clay nr London, and Petersfield as well as from more locally Trellech and Sully. All said that they enjoyed the experience of ringing our bells and were able to sample the way our bells handle and enjoy the sound they make.  
We extend a warm welcome to persons who are interested in learning the 'ropes' to come along to Bell Ringers practice at the Church on a Thursday evening from 6.30 p.m.  

Bell Ringers who rang for the Queen's 80th Birthday

Bell ringers (youngsters!) of St Michael's Tower

The bell ringers (youngsters!) of St Michael's Tower rang Grandsire Doubles at 2pm on 21st April 2006 for the Queen's 80th birthday. All churches with bells had been asked to celebrate in this way and we were happy to take part. Although the Queen would not have been able to hear our ringing we hope many of the locals enjoyed listening to the sound of our bells."

THE BELLS AT LLANTARNAM

The bells of the old county of Monmouthshire are described by Arthur Wright in his book "Church Bells of Monmouthshire" and gives some details of the bells of the original Llantarnam Abbey and Llanfihangel Llantarnam (St. Michael's).

The book tells briefly what happened to the monastic bells of the region. At Llantarnam Abbey there were four bells, weighing a total of 38cwt 3qrs 4lbs (in the old weight measures!) and whereas most of the monastic bells were bought by a London grocer, John Coore, the four from Llantarnam were taken away by William Jones of Caerleon, following the dissolution in 1536-7 a sum of £15 was paid to plumbers, carpenters, tilers and labourers for cutting down the 4 bells, removing the lead and melting it down. The lead weighed 4 fothers 307 lbs ( 1 fother being 2000lbs).

Arthur Wright's book gives the following information regarding the bells at St. Michael's:

"From the noted Whitechapel foundry of Mears and Stainbank,
which enjoyed an uninterrupted activity under many dynasties
of founders from the time of Elizabeth, come the following bells:-

T. Mears I (1787-1810)
1802 Llantarnam 1-6 "
and
"LLANFIHANGEL LLANTARNAM. S.Michael(Six bells)
(1-6) THOMAS MEARS OF LONDON FECIT 1802 ******
[26, 27¾, 29½, 30¾, 32½, 35½ in. respectively.]

The line of ornament is the usual Whitechapel pattern of
interlacing arcs, introduced by Lester and Pack about 1770.
The bells are in old oak frames with short (7in.) iron stays
and short iron sliders."

This ring of six bells had a tenor of 8cwts and was in the key of B flat.

Unfortunately, a fire at the Whitechapel Foundry some years ago has destroyed all their old records, so details of their old bells cannot be gleaned from that source. However, the Churchwardens' Account Book of 1788-1888 shows there were earlier bells. It was in the early part of the 17th Century that the style of bell ringing called 'Change Ringing' evolved in this country.

The 1802 Thomas Mears bells were rung until shortly after 1912, at which date they were known to be ringable. After this, because it seemed that the tenor bell had weakened the tower structure as it was too big, and the fact that the old oak bell frame was rotten and unsafe, the bells were deemed unringable. This remained the situation until 1973, when they were recast, by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, into a smaller ring of six bells.

The Reverend Canon Arthur Edwards records that this new peal of bells was rung for the first time in October 1973 to mark the birth of his daughter, Ruth. They have been rung more or less regularly ever since for Sunday worship and for weddings and other special occasions (one such was the Millenium). They are a delight for all, but especially for ringers who come from the four corners of Britain to enjoy them.