Ringing the Bells for the First World War
Winchester and Portsmouth Anglican Cathedrals will be hosting special services to give thanks for all people lost in World War One and to acknowledge the role of bell ringers during that conflict and in all our communities.
On 12th May at 6 p.m. in Portsmouth and on 19th May at 3.30 p.m. in Winchester, local dignitaries will be joining bell ringers and cathedral congregations as part of the commemorations of the Centenary of the end of The Great War. As a mark of respect for all those who made the supreme sacrifice for us, members of
The Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers will present each cathedral with an archive; the volumes detail the Guild's ringing performances, rung since 1914, in honour and memory of the men and women who died in World War One.
Bishop Christopher of Portsmouth says 'The ringing of church bells across the U.K. remained restricted throughout World War One. How wonderful that we are free to play our part in honouring all those that died as a result of the dreadful conflict.' He recognises the special performances in the printed volume as 'recording over a century of bell ringing from the tolling of a single bell to the most complicated of peals, from tiny village churches to Cathedrals.'
Bishop Tim of Winchester reflects 'The statistics are abhorrent: more than nine million fighting men, out of 65 million from 30 countries, died inWorld War One. It was devastating and hard to escape its impact. On 11th November 1918 peals of bells once more rang freely, breaking the near silence that had been brought about by the four years of war. Today, almost everyone of us, whatever our ethnic, national or religious roots, is aware that we have inherited a world deeply shaped by The Great War.'
On Armistice Day 1918 records from Portsmouth describe the outpouring of relief that four years war had ended...'The bells of St Thomas and St Mary were much in evidence.'The ringers who were working in the Royal Dockyard had been allowed to leave work early to ring the bells ' simultaneously with a service in the front of the town hall and with hooters blowing'.
100 years on to the day, Portsmouth heard the cathedral's half-muffled bells ring out
7000 'changes' over four-and-a-half hours, remembering and honouring the 7000 residents of Portsmouth who had lost their lives in World War One.
In Winchester Cathedral the, then, Winchester Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers' own war memorial is to be found; an oak tablet recording the names of the fallen. A significant tribute to the Guild's members lost in The Great War are two bells, cast especially, and installed in the tower in 1921.
Over 1,400 bell ringers died as a result of World War One - more than 60 were ringers from The Winchester and Portsmouth Guild area. 'Ringing Remembers' was a worldwide recruitment campaign to symbolically replace those 1,400 bell ringers. There were many newringers of all ages recruited from the two Dioceses in 2018. Leigh Ruszczyk, aged 5, from Brighstone, Isle of Wight was one of the 2,804 new ringers who rang bells on Remembrance Day 2018.
In Winchester Cathedral grounds during the afternoon of 19th May there will be the Chamborough Mobile Belfry. Passers-by will be invited to have a go on the delightful, tiny bells....there will be plenty of help on hand for visitors wanting their first attempt at tower bell ringing.