Bell Ringers Celebrate St Andrew’s Oldest Peal Board

St Andrew’s had five bells in 1552. These were recast into six bells in 1779 by the famous Whitechapel foundry (which sadly closed in 2017). Two more bells were added in 1901 to greet the 20th Century and another two in 2001 to give Hornchurch a 10-bell peal.

There are a number of peal boards on display in our ringing room which reflect various performances on 6, 8 and 10 bells over the centuries.

The oldest peal board is dated 17th March 1822, 200 years ago, when Hornchurch had 6 bells. It commemorates a ‘true and compleat peal’ of a method called Oxford Treble Bob Minor.

Today, a peal is recognised as 5000 changes or more which takes about 3 hours. In 1822, we think a ‘peal’ was 720 changes which is the maximum number of changes possible on 6 bells without repetition.

This would have taken about 30 minutes and was still a remarkable achievement of its time when change ringing was still in its infancy.

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of this oldest ‘peal’, our current team of bell ringers recently repeated the performance of 1822 on virtually the same six bells (not quite because the fifth of the six was replaced in 2014 due to a crack).

A record of the original performance and the 200th anniversary performance are shown below:

1822 performance

2022 performance:

Hornchurch, Essex

St Andrew

Sunday, 24 April 2022

720 Oxford Treble Bob Minor

1 Julie A Bloomfield

2 William Beech

3 Christopher C M Pain

4 Anthony J Bloomfield

5 Jonathan R Slack

6 Clive J Stephenson (C)

Rung on the back 6 to mark the 200th anniversary of the oldest performance that we know about on the original 6 bells on 17th March 1822 in the same method.

Five of the original six bells of 1779 remain; the 5th of the 6 having been replaced in 2014 due to a crack.

Our ringing chamber has many interesting peal boards including a famous peal of Bristol Surprise Major in 1912. It took more than nine hours of ringing to complete and was a record of its time.

One of the ringers (Bertrum Prewett from Bushy) who lost his life in WWI, had the ringing room in Ypres Church recently named after him in 2018.

If anyone would like to view the peal boards in our ringing room, please ask one of the bell ringers to show you around.

Clive Stephenson