St Peter’s Church, Their Majesties Chappell in St George’s held a service of Sung Evensong on Sunday, June 30, on the occasion of the Blessing of Bells by the Bishop of Bermuda the Rt Rev’d Nicholas Dill.
“By very ancient tradition church bells are blessed by a bishop, dedicated to the glory of God and named”, according to the service programme. “When Bermuda artist Emma Joyce [Mitchell] lngham purchased the little chapel on Jacobs Point Road in 1998 it lacked a bell.
“Friends Tom and Lark Masney found a charming bell made in England in l845 by the Whitechapel Foundry and brought it to Bermuda in I999. Ms Ingham later moved from the chapel and, looking for an appropriate home for the bell, offered it to St Peter’s Church, Their Majesties Chappell.
“The Masneys have returned to Bermuda to take part today in the blessing and naming of the bell, which will be installed in the church tower beside the large bell and above the clock and its bell.
“In the course of planning to have Emma’s bell blessed it was realized that the other bells in St Peter’s tower have no names, nor is there any record of their having been blessed. The oldest bell, made in London by Thomas Mears (Whitechapel Foundry) in 1813, was brought to Bermuda by Churchwarden John Till with the clock for the church tower.
“It is not known when the biggest bell was hung in St Peter’s tower, but it was read; London in 1877 by John Warner and Sons. Bishop Nicholas has very kindly agreed to bless and name these bells today as well as Emma’s bell, and has offered to climb up the tower to do so, if necessary.
“The primary use of bells was to announce the hour of church services. In the days before watches and clocks this was a necessity, especially in religious communities which assembled many times a day for worship.
“To call to church the inhabitants of a town or hamlet, bell towers were built. Over time bells increased in size. By the eighth century there could be two or more bells in the same church and in time it became accepted that the clash of several bells ringing at once added a fitting element of joy and solemnity to festive occasions.
“Also, the “Canons” of the Church of England prescribe: “When any is passing out of this life a bell shall be tolled and the minister shall not then slack to do his last duty. And after the party’s death, if it so fall out, there shall be rung no more than one short peal, and one before the burial, and one after the burial.”
“Modem custom has limited it to two: “first, after the death of the parishioner and the second time during the procession of the funeral from the house of the deceased to the church-gate or entrance.”
“The bell given by Emma lngham and Thomas and Lark Masney will be used as St Peter’s tolling bell. We extend to them our sincere appreciation and gratitude for this most magnanimous gift. Our heartfelt thanks to The Friends of St Peter’s Church for undertaking the hanging of this bell as one of their special projects”.