Written by Adam Drake Monday, 17 December 2007 13:52Colin Adams, the Tower Captain for the Exminster Bell Ringers, sent in a fascinating article all about St Martin's bells:
In the church tower there are eight bells. Originally there were six, all cast by Bilbie in 1758. In 1924 the bells were re-tuned and re-hung in a new cast iron frame by John Taylor & Co. Ltd., the well known bellfounders at Loughborough, Leicestershire.
At the time the frame was designed to accommodate two more bells and these were added in 1948. These two bells were a gift from a farming family in the lower part of the village (more on this and inscriptions on the bells next time). The heaviest bell is the tenor which is in the key of E flat and weighs just over seventeen hundred weight (roughly the weight of a small family car). The lightest is the treble which weighs just over five hundredweight. The bells are well known for their tonal quality and it says a great deal about the workmanship of John Taylor & Co. that the bells harmonise so well. They have been passed on to us in good order and as custodians it is our duty to not only ring them regularly but also maintain them.
We are a call-change band of ringers and we ring every other Sunday. Practice nights are held on Thursdays, except for the third Thursday in the month when we visit a neighbouring tower. The bells are also rung on special occasions (eg. weddings and to mark national occasions). The peal is also popular with visiting ringers. We are always keen to share our skills and encourage anyone interested and willing to try their hand at bellringing to come and join us. To this end two special introductory events will be held. These are:
- “Ring a bell for Christmas” which takes place on Saturday 22 December between 10.00a.m. and 12 noon. Anyone can come along and have a go at striking a bell or, under instruction, experience what is involved in ringing a bell.
- “Meet the Ringers” on Thursday 27 December from 7.30 until 9.00p.m. This is an opportunity to see the ringers in action and, under instruction, experience what is involved in ringing a bell. Afterwards we shall retire to the Stowey Arms.
The bells will sound out over the village for the service of Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday 23 December and on Christmas morning. We hope the Christmas message of our bells will convey hope, peace and goodwill to the people of Exminster and we would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.