Bells

St. Agatha’s now has a ring of 8 bells  and the St. Agatha’s Ringing Centre has  been established to  promote the art of Church bell-ringing among the young people of the area.

The bells will be rung regularly by the many ringers in the locality and from all over the country. How appropriate that St. Agatha is the patron saint of bell-ringing!

St. Agatha’s Trust has saved many fine artefacts no longer required by redundant churches and, with the help of the Keltek Trust, a registered charity that finds new homes for redundant bells, has now acquired 5 bells which will provide the 5 deepest notes of the octave. The money raised by the appeal has provided 3 new bells to complete the octave. In January 2013 all 8 bells were hung in a new bell frame in the Ringing Centre.

The largest bell weighs a little over 3 cwt. with a diameter of 25 ins. and together the bells will form the scale of F major. They have been hung to ring through 360º to allow ringing in the traditional English style.

There is considerable enthusiasm for this project in the bell-ringing community, and St. Agatha’s Ringing Centre with its new light ring of bells will provide an ideal venue for demonstrations and the teaching of new young recruits.

There are bells in Hampshire that are still ringing regularly that were cast in the 14th. century. There is no reason why St. Agatha’s bells should not ring out over Portsmouth for many centuries to come.

We have nearly completed the fundraising for this project but still need money to fit out the ringing centre. Gift aid envelopes are available by the visitors’ book and may be placed in the nearby donations box.  All contributions will be welcome, however large or small. All will be recognised on a plaque in the Ringing Centre.

The Tenor Bell will be the largest of St. Agatha’s new ring, and weighs just over 3 cwt. The bell has a diameter of roughly 25 ins. and, together with its sister bells,  forms the scale of F major.
The bell was originally part of a chime of 12 bells in Mount Zion Church, Quarriers Village, a small settlement in Kilmalcolm, Renfewshire, Scotland originally established as a 19th. century orphans’ home. It was cast by a Croydon based firm of well regarded bell-founders named Gillett and Johnston. Though they now operate as clockmakers, Gillett and Johnston cast bells from 1877 up until 1953. This particular bell was cast in 1946, and was donated to St. Agatha’s by the Keltek Trust, a charity that finds homes for redundant bells such as these.

An article from “Ringing World” by Alan Pink

A Ring of Bells for the Ordinariate

 

St Agatha’s Church, Portsmouth, has had a chequered history. Founded in the nineteenth century as a high church “shrine”, it started life as part of the Church of England, although, some might argue, only just. During the Second World War, the locality, which is adjacent to the Naval dockyard, was a target for the Luftwaffe, but, whilst the majority of its parish was flattened, the church miraculously survived, albeit minus most of its glass. As a church in the middle of a devastated area, though, and lacking parishioners from the network of poor streets it was built to serve, St Agatha’s was abandoned by the C of E not many years later, in 1954.

For a long time its future looked grim. In the sixties the church that the bombers missed became in turn a target of the planners, who wanted to drive a multi-lane highway through the site. The church lost its Lady Chapel (unnecessarily, as the plans changed) but the rest once again somehow survived, and was used for a long time as a store for the Navy, until the St Agatha’s Trust took a lease from its owners, the Hampshire County Council, and returned it to ecclesiastical use in 1994, as the home of a group known as the Traditional Anglican Communion. Lovingly, the church was restored to the dignity of its former ritualistic existence. Earlier this year, the congregation and its clergy joined the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

For anyone who may be unfamiliar with this newly established body, it may be worth trying to explain a little about it. It isn’t any kind of breakaway group, but is part of the Roman Catholic Church, formed with the current Pope’s particular blessing, and made up largely of former members of the Church of England who want to be in full communion with the Universal Church, whilst retaining certain features of the Anglican tradition in their worship. About forty groups round the country have joined so far, under the leadership not of a bishop (it’s like a sort of non territorial diocese) but of an Ordinary, who is a former Anglican bishop, Monsignor Keith Newton.

These groups have mostly had to leave their buildings behind and worship at the local Catholic church, and so St Agatha’s is unusual in being a church specifically dedicated to the use of the Ordinariate. What’s more, it now has a ring of bells. Monsignor Newton commented in his homily at the dedication service for these bells, on Saturday 10th November 2012, that bells were a part of the unique Anglican “patrimony”, to use the Pope’s word, but a part that was not very portable. So St Agatha’s was particularly fortunate, and it is fitting, too, that bells should be installed in a church dedicated to the patron saint of bellfounders and ringers.

To anyone brought up on the Prayer Book, this service was both beautiful and, in the context, unexpectedly familiar. It was impossible not to speculate what the Dean of the nearby Catholic Cathedral, Canon David Hopgood, who was robed and present in the sanctuary, made of the sixteenth century English, and the intense dignity of the ritual, now unfamiliar in most modern Catholic churches. No doubt he charitably reasoned that it takes all sorts to make a church! The centrepiece of the service, of course, was the blessing of the eight bells, which stood in a line along the centre aisle. Each was sprinkled with holy water and censed inside and out, then decked with a white ribbon, recalling the white garment in a baptism, to signify that it will now ring for the glory of God.

The details of the bells, which it is hoped will be hung in the tower in time to be rung for St Agatha’s day in February, are as follows:

Bell          Name    Weight     Date      Founder                     Inscription

Treble       Mary      1-0-4      2012      Higby Bowditch         Joan Margery Maunder MBE

1925 – 2009 RIP

 

2               Agatha  1-1-4      2012      Higby Bowditch         The Gift of the Guild of Saint Agatha

and Alan and Louise Pink

 

3               Michael 1-1-20    2012      Higby Bowditch         Flying with eagles, at one with the

sea. In loving memory of my husband

Michael John Burrows

6th Nov. 1935 – 17th Feb. 2007

 

4               Felicity  1-1-5      c1950    Mears & Stainbank

and

Perpetua

 

5               Lucy      1-1-10    1921      John Taylor & Co

 

6               Agnes    1-1-21    1964      John Taylor & Co

 

7               Cecilia   2-0-27    1921      John Taylor & Co

 

Tenor       Anastasia 3-0-1     1946      Gillett & Johnston

 

The bells are in the key of F.

 

 

Alan Pink

 

The dedication service, in which 18th Century French red silk velvet vestments were used