Raising St. Giles' Bells

The work on raising the bells began earlier in the year when they were moved from their long-time resting place inside the church to John Taylor Bellfounders in Loughborough, for the necessary repair and preparation for rehanging. The planned date for raising them is the 22nd and 23rd June - some of you will wish to witness this sight, even if you have to do so from the other side of Castle St; St. Peter's churchyard will offer a good viewpoint.

We have learned new things about our bells this year, firstly what the almost illegible inscription around the shoulder of the larger bell says. Jeremy Wong, one of our rota of organists, studied it and recognised an inscription that he had seen on another bell; 'cum cano busta mori cum pulpita vivere[disce]', which translates as 'Learn to die when I sing a burial and to live when I sing a service.'

The second piece of information was supplied by Taylor's bellfoundry. They have identified the maker of the 1629 bell as a bellfounder from Stamford, in Lincolnshire, one Thomas Norris - apparently his bells are so distinctive that they are instantly recognisable.

Sylvia and Richard Pick undertook more internet research and came up with more 'Norris' history, which was reported in the June issue of the parish magazine (News & Views) thus, 'We googled Norris, Bellfounders, and among the thousands of replies got a fascinating report of a new pub in Stamford in St. Paul's Lane: The Tobie Norris. There were, apparently, several generations of Tobie Norrises making bells at Stamford. The pub is in St. Paul's Street, next to Bell Court...'

The repair and rehanging of St. Giles' bells coincides with that of 10 of the bells of the much grander set of 12 bells at Great St. Mary's Church, Cambridge, that are being replaced as part of the University's 800th Anniversary. This work too is being carried out by Taylor's in Loughborough and St. Giles' has benefited from this fact through the kind interest of Damian Gillie, the photographer who has been commissioned by the University to record the work. Damian has taken some wonderfully atmosheric photographs of the bellfoundry, which can be viewed here. He noticed our bells there and came to St. Giles' to learn more and to tell us that his photographs include some of our two bells in the foundry. These are now included in our website photo gallery, by Damian's kind permission.