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."
BELLS AT LLANTARNAM
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).
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).
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 "
LLANTARNAM. S.Michael(Six bells)
(1-6) THOMAS MEARS OF LONDON FECIT 1802 ******
[26, 27¾, 29½, 30¾, 32½, 35½
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."
ring of six bells had a tenor of 8cwts and was in the key of B flat.
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.
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.
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.