Pic of St Mary's from the mill pond - Swanage Bellringers -



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History of the bells
1888 was some eight years before the introduction of systematic true-harmonic tuning at Loughborough.  When the bells came to be restored in 1940 it was decided, therefore, to replace the three lightest of the bells cast in 1888, for which the parish was asked to pay only half.  Taylors’ letter to the parish is something of a classic:

.......we beg to say that upon making a careful test of the tones of the individual bells we find that certain overtones of the three smallest bells, which were cast in 1888, are so wild and chaotic and so predominant that even after everything possible is done in tuning these bells they will still produce the effect of not being in tune.  
We are led to suggest that it will be a great pity that whilst the bells are here not to put the peal into proper tune but this can only be done by recasting and remodelling of these three smallest bells.
The head of our firm, Mr E. Denison Taylor, is very desirous that these bells should be recast into good toned bells and instructs us to make the offer to do this additional work at half price, i.e. for £36.  He hopes that this will be helpful towards a favourable decision and that it will be taken as a gesture as to the interest we are taking in the present scheme of restoration and improvement.

The 1888 inscriptions were copied onto the new bells.  The other two bells of 1888, the sixth and the tenor, were a rather better shape and the tenor was susceptible to re-tuning.  Two of John Wallis’s bells, the fourth and the fifth, were again re-tuned.  Of the third of his bells, the following was reported in the Bournemouth Evening Echo on 15th June 1939:

It also desirable that one of them (the bells), the seventh, should be re-cast in order to give it a fuller and richer tone.
A new, and heavier bell was duly cast.

The present treble, second and third are flat-topped bells; certainly they have true-harmonic tuning but it has to be said that, tonally, they sound rather thin.
The fourth is one of John Wallis’s loveliest sounding bells and harmonically it is not far short of perfect.  It was re-tuned on the sound-bow in 1888 and a little above it in 1940.  The canons have been removed.
Wallis or whoever prepared the inscription for him, made a surprising mess of the wording on the fifth.  Also the date - in which the figure 2 is askew - is likely to be an error for 1621, in which case the inscription ought to read “FEARE GOD 1621 IW”.  This bell too has lost its canons.  The tone and tuning are good but quite so good as with the fourth.  The main re-tuning is of 1940 on the sound-bow and a little above, but some re-tuning had also been done in 1888.
The present sixth of 1888 is now the only bell in the ring with canons, which are angular.  It is a maiden bell but has a rather gluey sound and is the poorest in the ring as regards tuning.  
The present seventh is a glorious  sounding bell with true harmonic tuning and weighs some 2 cwt more than its predecessor, the inscription from which was reproduced in facsimile on the new bell.  The two peculiarities in this inscription, the space before rather than after the R of “HONOR”  and the conjoined H and E of “THE”, add to the likelihood that this bell and the fifth were cast at the same time - in 1621 - and their inscriptions set out by the same individual.
The tenor of 1888 is quite a fine sounding bell and originally weighed 22 cwt. 1 qtr. 9 lb.  It was tuned a little on the sound-bow originally and re-tuned at the bottom of the waist in 1940; it now has near-true harmonics but it also has a rapid beat.
The frame was installed in 1888 and is of a high-sided “A” pattern which John Taylor & Co. had introduced and were using about this time.  The frame-sides are iron castings fixed between oak heads and sills; the foundation beams are also of oak.  
In 1940 the bells were re-hung on ball bearings and some other fittings renewed.  All the bells still had wooden stocks and other fittings of 1888 or 1940 until 1990 when the stocks on the seventh and tenor were replaced with cast iron ones supplied by Taylors and fitted locally.  







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Until 1888 St.Mary’s church had only four bells, three of them by John Wallis of Salisbury and the fourth by Lester & Pack of Whitechapel.  These were taken to the Loughborough foundry in that year where Wallis’s bells were re-tuned, and the Lester & Pack bell was replaced, by John Taylor & Co.  Three trebles and a tenor were then added at a cost of £246 17s. 10d. met by Mr George Burt, a native of Swanage, sheriff of the City of London and prominent local citizen, in memory of his wife.  The new ring of eight bells was dedicated on 27th September 1888.  In August the following year, the first and second peals on the bells were both rung on the same day; these were the first peals of Stedman Triples and Bob Major ever to be rung in Dorset.  Both of these peals were conducted by James W Washbrook - perhaps, the most famous and accomplished ringer of his generation.

James W Washbrook - Swanage Bellringers -