Strange sounds in the belfry

One effect of the war was the recruitment of unpracticed bellringers, who struggled with their new role.

The Bell Ringers

So many of our Ringers are away on service that it has been found necessary to get recruits of non-military age, and several young aspirants are training under the Foreman and Deputy Foreman. Hence the strange sounds which may occasionally be heard proceeding from the belfry, and which will, we hope, improve by degrees into the dear old well-known peal.

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Advertisements

“We want every penny now to enable us to win peace through a final and decisive victory”

Several Reading families had heard the worst news, while sacrifices were being made at home.

In accordance with the directions of the Food Controller, there will be no Sunday School teas this Christmas season, but the usual prize-givings will be held, and though there will be no systematic collection throughout the Parish, any contributions sent to the Rev. W. J. Holloway will be added to the Prizes’ Fund…

I propose, too, to keep Sunday, January 27th, as a day for stimulating self-sacrifice of our people in the manner of War Saving. We want every penny now to enable us to win peace through a final and decisive victory.

Thanksgiving: For the entry of the British into Jerusalem – the Holy City.

Intercessions: For the troops on the Western Front this critical time. For the fallen – especially George Colvill and Edward Adbury, of Soho Street. R.I.P. For Leslie Allen, one of our Servers, ill in hospital of Salonika.

Our truest sympathies go out to Mr. Swain, one of our Sidesmen and the Foreman of our bellringers, and his wife, on the death of their son George, who was killed in action in Palestine on November 29th. George Swain was always the straightest of lads, and one of our most faithful and regular Altar-servers. God rest his soul.

Henry John Coggs has, we regret to hear, been killed in France. Our deep sympathy is with his parents and family. He leaves an orphan child.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)

Ladies and younger lads keep the bells going, with energy & zeal

Bellringers reflect on the ways the war had changed their profession.

The annual meeting of this branch took place at Wokingham on Sat. Jan. 19th. A short service was held at All Saints’ Church at 4.30 pm with Intercessory Prayers…

The Rural Dean, Canon G F Coleridge, gave an excellent address, & practical, on the words – “Every man according to his ability” (Acts XI.29). He said he had chosen those words, because they brought home what was being done throughout the country regarding the “War”, at that time, & they should appeal with great force & meaning to those present, as Church Bell Ringers. Many of these, amongst other church officers, had been called to active service abroad, some of them from that branch, of whom some had given their lives for their country, & many ladies & younger lads had taken their places, & kept the bells goings, with an energy & zeal which would always be remembered in the Ringing world!…

The National Anthem was heartily sung at the close…

Tow members had been killed in action during the year. – A Edwards & F Collins, while G Collins was still “missing”, as in last year.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
(for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) (D/EX2436/2)

A muffled peal

A bellringer was remembered.

We wish to convey our sincere sympathy to Mrs. Ernest Lovejoy on the loss of her husband in the war. Mr. E. Lovejoy was one of our bell-ringers. A muffled peal was rung on Sunday evening, November 25th, in his memory.

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/12)

A muffled peal rings in Reading

The parish of Reading St Mary had to mourn a number of losses.

The Vicar’s Notes

We have to mourn two losses lately, which have brought the War sadly home to us at S. Mary’s. William Holloway, Sergeant in the Royal Berks, was our Cross-bearer, a member of our Choir, the first server at our Altar, and Secretary of our Men’s Club. His whole character was marked by the strongest loyalty, loyalty to his country, and to his Church. His influence was wholly and entirely for good. We are thankful that his death was painless and instantaneous. A “Requiem” was said for him on Monday, Oct.22nd, at 7-30, and a wreath placed on the War-shrine by the Servers on Sunday, Oct. 28th.

The other loss is that of Alfred T. Reeves, one of our youngest bell-ringers. He was seldom absent from the belfry on Sundays, and a muffled peal was rung, out of respect for his memory, on Wednesday, Oct. 17th.

May they both rest in peace.

Notice
Men of Engineering or Seafaring experience, also Tradesmen or Labourers, of any age, who are desirous of doing ruminative war-work are advised to apply to the Rev. R. Wickham Legg, of S.Mary’s Vicarage, Reading, who is in a position to help them to this end.

Intercessions

For all our Allies, especially the Italians.

For all our fighting men, and also for those who have lately joined the Army, especially Harry Frewin (one of our Altar Servers).

For the sick, the prisoners and the wounded, especially Walter Towner, one of our Choirmen, severely wounded in the head and thigh; for Fred Eggleton, one o0f the Banner-bearers; for Arthur Stokes (of Cherry Court).

For the fallen, especially for William Holloway, our first Altar server at S. Mary’s; for Alfred T. Reeves, one of our Bell-ringers; for Cecil Coulton (of Lavender Street).
R.I.P.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

A brave man’s death for his King and Country

A bellringer at St Andrew’s Church, Clewer, was the latest to be reported killed.

In Memoriam: Henry Wetherall. R.I.P.

We desire to express our heartfelt sympathy with Mrs. Wetherall, who has lost her husband at the Front. Henry Wetherall was one of our Bellringers, and we could ill afford to lose him.

The Chaplain has written: –

“Your husband was killed in his dug-out by a shell. I know what a blow this will be to you, but I pray that God may show you that even in this ‘all things work together for good to those who love Him.’ You have the pride and the joy of knowing that he died a brave man’s death for his King and Country. I buried him on September 8, in the little village of Boeringhe, in Belgium, in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. He was buried alongside of some of his Comrades, and the Police, to whom he belonged, have erected a Cross over his grave. May God comfort and bless you in your great need.

F. W. HEAD, Chaplain of the Guards Division.

Clewer parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

“Confident that they would all be back from the Front to sing an anthem at Christmas”

There were mixed views as to how much longer the war would last.

We convey our congratulations to our bell-ringers who in spite of the absence of so many of our ringers at the Front, still manage to make a brave show with the bells. It is only about two Sundays that two bells have been chimed, but as a rule we get from four to six. The Choir has also got somewhat thin from the same cause, but we have dropped nothing except anthems on Festivals for the last year. However, the Vicar had a letter from one of the Choirmen at the Front who appeared confident that they would all be back to sing an anthem at Christmas! We all hope his idea is correct.

Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild needs as much support as ever, as the war is not yet over. There are a certain number of them who do not get “weary in well-doing.” It is wonderful how one may encourage another, and also how an irregular member may deter another.

Many have asked “What about the Coal?” Well, that was the matter over which Warfield Charities Committee sat on August 8th, and the Coal Merchants could give us no quotations. So til the middle of September we must “wait and see.” Most probably the saw-mills will be busy this winter.

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)

Two sons killed within three months

The war was taking a heavy toll.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

With much regret we have to record this month the death in action of yet two more Winkfield men. Pte. George Holloway and Pte. Tom Simmonds.

Mr. and Mrs. Holloway have now lost two sons within three months, and deep sympathy is felt for them in these heavy bereavements. Pte. Tom Simmonds was for many years one of our bell-ringers, and we tender his parents and family heartfelt sympathy.

Pte. W. J. Johnson is also reported killed in action. His mother has lately been living in Winkfield and will have the sympathy of many friends here.

Pte. Albert Carter, who has been out at the Front ever since the outbreak of war, is wounded; he is in hospital in England and we are glad to learn that he is doing well. His brother, Pte. John Carter is dangerously ill in hospital. As we write we hear that he has had a turn for the better and so hope that he is now on the road to recovery.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

The war has drawn bellringers closer together

Bellringers pondered the war. Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers was an umbrella organisation for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul.

The annual meeting of the branch was held at Wokingham on Jan. 6th [1917]. Proceedings commenced with Evensong, address, & Intercessions for those engaged in the war, at St Paul’s Church, at 5.30 pm. Some 40 members attended. The Rev. S M Winter, vicar of Wargrave, gave an excellent address, based upon Judges XIV.14, in the course of which he pointed out how out of peril came forth sweetness, out of death a new life, out of dry bones a busy hive of industry, out of a barren field a fruit which shall be sweet to those that come after. There was no one, at that time, but was thinking of the “War”, which had now reached its 3rd year, & no one could foresee when it might end. Out of it had come a new binding & uniting force for the Empire that had made it stronger than ever before. It had given a new value to time, to money, a shame to idleness, selfishness & waste not understood before, & many a new triumph over disease.

We might apply the same sort of lesson to our church belfries. The bells played their part in peace & war. Now silent, might they again ring many a peal of thanksgiving in God’s good time – for the restoration of peace in equity & justice, a peace that should advance God’s Kingdom throughout the world! All had learnt a noble lesson of self-sacrifice from those members of their belfries, who had endured such terrible sufferings, & those who had laid down their loves for King & Country; each member, he hoped, might learn to do his duty, “as unto God, & not unto man”, in a better & higher way. The war had drawn them all closer together both in the Belfry, & outside of it; and so they gave their answer to the riddle, “out of the eater came forth meat, out of the strong came forth sweetness”….

Mr Winter… trusted that the restrictions upon bell-ringing would soon be removed, & joyous peals be forthcoming by reason of a secured peace. The Rev. H M Wallis congratulated the members upon the numbers attending the service, & hoped that some sweetness might accrue, even from the bitterness of the enemies’ hate….

Since their last annual meeting, the Master of the Guild, Rev. C W O Jenkyn, had won the Military Cross.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (D/EX2436/1)

“Wargrave is to be congratulated in this time of War”

Several of the Wargrave church bellringers had joined up, but they were still keeping the peals ringing.

The Belfry:

A Meeting of the Belfry was held on Wednesday, December 27th.

There were present: the Vicar in the Chair, the Foreman (Mr. W. H. Easterling) and 11 members.

The official list of the Belfry now numbers 20 men.

Wargrave is to be congratulated in this time of War, both on having sent 4 Ringers to the Front and on having 14 men and lads still ready to ring the eight bells at home.

The names of the members and probationers are as follows, the names of those serving in His Majesty’s Forces are printed in Italics,

H. Attlesey W. Elsley F. Hanson S.P. Nash
G. Bayliss P. D. Elsley R. Lawrence J. Neighbour
W. Burrows E. Field E. Ladd E. Thatcher
A.E. Cox A. Guy F. Pocock C. F. Shersby
W. H. Easterling W. Herbert J. Preston

FINANCE
It appeared that the most important need, in regard to apparatus, was the provision of eight mats, to take the fall of the ropes as they touch the floor, and a set of Mufflers.

The Foreman was requested to enquire about the cost of suitable squares of carpet.

No resolution was passed in regard to Mufflers. It was suggested that if a set could in an emergency be borrowed from a neighbouring tower a purchase might be deferred until after the War.

Wargrave parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

“The Message of Peace seems so unheeded in the outside world, amid the din of battle”

A Christmas message from the vicar of Wargrave:

Christmas:

May the Message of Peace, which seems so unheeded in the outside world, amid the din of battle, being solace to all Christian hearts. Those who, obey the call of duty to fight for their country find indeed a peace which passes all understanding, for they have made the great surrender and offered their lives to God. Those who serve at home, or only wait and pray, may find some peace if they fill the place to which God calls them. We do not choose our place or tasks: He allots them to us all, if we are alert to hear His call. And if we are content to do out best therein we shall find Peace; the same as that which sanctified the life in Bethlehem, and in the upper room, and in the garden, and on Calvary. The Peace which belongs unto our Lord and which He has the power to give.

Gifts for Men at the Front:

As the gifts of Tobacco and Cigarettes at the Harvest Festival were not nearly enough to go round, another opportunity will be given to the congregations on Christmas Day. Any further gifts received then will be distributed among those who did not get anything from the Harvest Festival.

The letters received by the Vicar from those who have already received the little presents show how very gratefully they are appreciated.’

A Gift to the Bell-Ringers:

A very handsome medal has been presented by Mr. W.E. Cain to all who were members of the Belfry at the time of the Re-Opening of the Tower.

It is the size of half-a-crown, with a very effective view of the Church on one side and a little inscription on the other.

All the men were delighted with it, it is a gift which will certainly give the keenest pleasure to those who are now fighting and were away from home at the time.

The Bell-Ringers tender their most grateful thanks to the kind donor and their gratitude for such kindly thought is shared by all who have their interest at heart.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

The fair sex learn bellringing

In the absence of so many men, women were learning to ring the church bells for the first time.

O.D.G.C.B.R.- what on earth does this stand for? So thought the Editor when he received his invitation from this venerable society. It is a short way of expressing the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell-ringers. Their annual meeting was held at Wokingham on January 15th. Service in All Saints Church at 5.30, followed by a meat tea at 6.30 in St. Pauls School, after which a few speeches were made and business matters attended to, after which the tower of both Churches were opened to the ringers. A strong feeling was expressed that Warfield ringers should join the Guild, which they may now do, the Vicar having joined the Guild. There were about one hundred present and a good sprinkling of the fair sex, who have lately learnt the art. Hurst has a band of lady ringers, as well as its usual band.

Warfield section of the Winkfield District Magazine, February 1916 D/P151/28A/8/2

No men have offered themselves as readily as the bellringers

The annual meeting of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) paid tribute to bellringers’ contributions to the war effort.

This meeting of the Sonning Deanery Branch was held on Sat Jan 13th. A service of Intercession was held at All Saints’ Church at 5.30 pm. There was a good attendance of men, considering the absence of many men on active service in the war; there were also present several Lady Ringers, who had joined since the war began. The Rector read out a list of those members (37 in number) who had joined HM Forces, including 2 who had given their lives for their country – A M Priest (Hurst) and C Rideout (St Paul’s, Wokingham); G Collins (Sandhurst) reported “missing”.

The Rev. P H Ditchfield gave an earnest & appropriate address. Usually, he said, they met in the atmosphere of gladness & rejoicing at their Festival, but a something, like a muffled peal, seemed to go through their belfries, owing to the war. No body of men had offered themselves so readily & willingly for the sake of their King & Country as had the Church Bellringers. That was but to be expected of men who had been accustomed to place their God, their duty, before ease & pleasure, the cause of right before the cause of wrong. Some of their brothers had made the supreme sacrifice, had given the highest pledge of their love for dear ones & for home. Wonderful it was how again and again the home prayers had helped & sustained them through the dangers & hardships they had been called upon to endure. Let them pray for their brothers who once stood beside them in the belfry tower. The sound of the bells brought courage & hope & confidence to many a troubled spirit. God grant that long before another year dawned they might call their teams together to ring the triumphant peal of victory!…

The Chairman… said he felt sure that the sympathy of members would go to the Bishop of Buckingham (a Vice-President of the Guild) who had just lost a 3rd son in the war.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (D/EX2436/1)

“Happiness does not consist in freedom from suffering and anxiety, but in doing service for God and Country”

A middle aged church verger had joined the ranks of those fighting for their country.

The Vicars Notes

A happy New Year to all the people of S. Mary’s Parish! I say “Happy” advisedly, first, because we have learnt that whatever may be in store for us, happiness does not consist in freedom from suffering and anxiety, but in doing service for God and Country; and secondly, because we all hope and fervently pray that this New Year may bring us the blessing of peace, and such a peace as shall forward the purposes of the Kingdom of God.

All Saints District

After the first Sunday in January [2 January 1916], a very familiar figure will be missing from the church. Mr J. Mundy, who has been a tower of strength to us since he became connected with All Saints’ Church, and to whom many members of the congregation owe much of its care and thoughtfulness, has joined the Army. He is well over military age, but was extremely anxious to do what he could for King and Country. He will be much missed, and we hope that it may not be long before we shall have the pleasure of seeing him back again in his accustomed position as Verger. We feel sure that he will carry with him the good wishes of all the congregation. During his absence we shall have to make temporary arrangements to “carry on” as best we can. Mrs. Maskell, 21 Western Road, has been appointed caretaker of the church for the time being. It will be remembered that her husband acted as organ-blower and bell ringer for some time before the war broke out, and, after recovering from a severe wound, has been sent back to France again.

Roll of Honour

The following additional names have been sent in for remembrance at the Altar.

Frederick Cox, Harry Cox, Walter Cozens, Eric George Holden, Henry Leonard Gore Hurst, Frederick Hunt, Honor Austen-Leigh (Nurse), Arthur Charles Philbrick, Samuel Pike, Frederick Povey, Reginald Villiers Saunders.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1916 (D/P98/28A/13)

The noblest death a man can die

Theale men were continuing to join up, even as another paid the price of patriotism. The church paid tribute to him, while praying for peace.

FOR KING AND COUNTRY.

The following names of those serving are added to those already published:

Harry Janes, Third Officer, H.M. Transport, No. 186.
Harry Ernest Webber, Royal Berks Reserve.

ROLL OF HONOUR.

Killed in Action.
Oct. 5th. – George Bedford, 1st Royal Berks Regiment, No. 6627.
Aged 32 Years

The Service of Intercession on Thursday, November 19th, was devoted to his memory.

“He was a good Churchman, and a good man, steady and industrious, a devoted Husband and Father. He has given his life for his King and Country, the noblest death a man can die. We commend his soul to the gracious keeping of our Heavenly Father, and pay Him to comfort and support his widow and orphaned child.”

From the Rector’s address.

George Bedford, having been a member of the Diocesan Guild, and a ringer in our Belfry, a muffled peal was rung to his memory on Saturday evening, November 21st.

CHRISTMAS.
We cannot utter the traditional wish for a “Merry Christmas this year, for the dark cloud of War will still overshadow us. But we wish our readers and all in our parish a “Blessed” Christmas, which is the Bible word for “Happy.” And let us all pray on the Birthday of the Prince of Peace, that God may soon give to use and all the world the Blessing of Peace.

Theale parish magazine, December 1914 (D/P132B/28A/4)