St Mary’s History

Original 8 bells cast in 1914, augmented to 10 in 1933, destroyed by enemy action in 1940 and recast in 1945

The First Peal Of Eight Bells

The Rector, Canon Lovett, later to become the first Bishop of Portsmouth, oversaw the completion of the fifth church with first a tower as a memorial to King Edward VII (1901 to 1910) and a spire in 1912 as a memorial to Canon William Durst. In 1913, the local newspaper announced that ” …to give voice to the finished structure …. Mary Ann Wingrove will provide an octave of bells in memory of her late husband Robert at a cost of £909-2s.”. A commemorative plaque survived World War II and can be seen on the wall of the tower, just inside the south door:-

To the Glory of God
The peal of bells was presented to this Church
In memory of
Robert Wingrove of 3, East Park Terrace, Southampton
by his Widow
Mary Ann Wingrove A.D. 1913

A suitable inscription was cast into each bell by the bell founders, John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough. The tenor bell weighed 22 cwt. 1 qr. 7 lbs. with the note of Eb. The bells were hung, using plain bearings in a modern cast iron frame by Taylors, and the installation was dedicated by Canon Lovett at the close of Evensong on Sunday 3rd May 1914.

Douglas Furber and the Australian composer A. Emmett Adams heard St. Mary’s original octave sounding across the River Itchen while waiting for their liner, and were inspired to write the song “The Bells of St. Mary’s”. Introduced to the USA in 1917 as the college song of the New York State Maritime College, it achieved international popularity when recorded by Bing Crosby on 2nd March 1946.

Augmentation

Augmentation to ten bells took place in 1933. Two trebles were the gift of the Barron Bell Trust, shown as part of the inscriptions cast on the bells by John Taylor & Co. These were hung on the very modern ball bearings in a frame on top of that housing the octave. These were dedicated on 13th January 1934, and the first peal was rung on 12th September 1934.

BELL WEIGHT YEAR INSCRIPTION NOTE
1 4cwt. 0qt. 2lbs. 1933 Around the crown:-JOHN TAYLOR & CO. *FOUNDERS*  LOUGHBOROUGHOn the waist, one side:-
TO THE GLORY OF GOD THIS BELL WAS GIVEN BY THE BARRON BELL TRUST
1933
EMMA BARRON, FOUNDER
F. HOPKINS, C.M. WALROND, H.W. ELDRED, TRUSTEESOn the waist the opposite side:-
TAYLOR LOUGHBORO
G
2 4cwt. 0qt. 26lbs. 1933 F
3 4cwt. 2qt. 13lbs. 1914 Around the crown:-RING OUT THE FALSE, RING IN THE TRUEOn the waist, one side:-
MARY ANN WINGROVE GAVE ME
JOHN TAYLOR MADE ME
1914On the waist the opposite side:-
TAYLOR LOUGHBORO
Eb
4 5cwt. 0qt. 19lbs. 1914 D
5 5cwt. 0qt. 19lbs. 1914 C
6 3cwt. 0qt. 24lbs!! 1914 Bb
7 9cwt. 1qt. 0lbs. 1914 Ab
8 11cwt. 2qt. 0lbs. 1914 G
9 15cwt. 1qt. 2lbs. 1914 F
10 22cwt. 1qt. 6lbs. 1914 Eb

Enemy Attack

On 30th November and 1st. December 1940 the Blitz reached Southampton. It is estimated that 105 tons of bombs fell over two nights. 137 civilians were killed, 391 injured, 372 buildings were totally destroyed in Southampton, including fifteen churches. 797 buildings were so badly damaged that demolition was required, while 4636 more suffered considerable damage.

St. Mary’s Church was devastated, the steeple gutted and the damage to the bells was extremely severe. The 6th bell was broken and had fallen through two floors into the ringing chamber, apart from the crown which remained attached to the headstock in the bell chamber. The 5th, 8th, and 9th bells had large, open cracks in their crowns and the 7th had lost most of its resonance.  The bells were removed by Taylors in April 1942 and re-cast in Loughborough following celebrations for Victory in Europe on 8th May 1945. Tower Captain John W. Faithful promoted a scheme to hang all the bells in a redesigned frame on one level. His memorial for 25 years of captaincy is the excellent, new bell frame and a brass plaque at the bottom of the tower, just outside the spiral staircase :-

THIS TABLET RECORDS THE SERVICE OF
JOHN WALTER FAITHFULL
CHORISTER: BELLRINGER
CHURCH COUNCILLOR
FOR OVER THIRTY YEARS
CAPTAIN OF THIS BELFRY
ERECTED BY FELLOW RINGERS
AND FRIENDS 1964
ROY CHAMBERLAIN M.A. RECTOR
H.T. COOK W.F. MEERING CHURCHWARDENS

Recasting And Rehanging

The bells were hung in April 1948 and were dedicated at a moving service held in the ruins of the church on Sunday 20th June 1948.

“The Ringing World” of 2nd July 1948, described the occasion and added

“They were the first ring of bells in this country to be restored after being brought down by enemy action”

Details of these new bells follow:-

BELL

DIAMETER

WEIGHT

YEAR INSCRIPTION

NOTE

1 25¼” 4-0-2 1933/1945 Around the crown:-JOHN TAYLOR & CO. *FOUNDERS*  LOUGHBOROUGHOn the waist, one side:-
TO THE GLORY OF GOD THIS BELL WAS GIVEN BY THE BARRON BELL TRUST
1933
EMMA BARRON, FOUNDER
F. HOPKINS, C.M. WALROND, H.W. ELDRED, TRUSTEESOn the waist the opposite side:-
TAYLOR LOUGHBORO
RECAST 1945
G
2 26½” 4-1-14 1933/1945 F
3 28″ 4-3-9 1914/1945 Around the crown:-RING OUT THE FALSE, RING IN THE TRUEOn the waist, one side:-
MARY ANN WINGROVE GAVE ME
JOHN TAYLOR MADE ME
1914On the waist the opposite side:-
TAYLOR LOUGHBORO
RECAST 1945
Eb
4 29″ 5-1-0 1914/1945 D
5 31½” 6-1-13 1914/1945 C
6 34″ 7-2-5 1914/1945 Bb
7 37″ 9-1-8 1914/1945 Ab
8 39″ 10-3-20 1914/1945 G
9 43½” 14-2-4 1914/1945 F
10 49″ 21-2-8 1914/1945 Around the crown:-RING OUT THE FALSE, RING IN THE TRUEOn the waist, one side:-
THIS PEAL OF TEN BELLS WAS RECAST IN 1945 AFTER DESTRUCTION OF THE CHURCH BY ENEMY ACTION ON ST. ANDREW’S DAY, NOVEMBER 30 TH., 1940
R. B. JOLLY, RECTOR
G.A. WALLER, R.T. SMITH, CHURCHWARDENSOn the waist the opposite side:-
MARY ANN WINGROVE GAVE ME
JOHN TAYLOR MADE ME
1914
RECAST 1945
Eb

 

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