The Hingham Bell Tower had a special visit from a group of 32 ringers from York, England.
Did you hear it? On Saturday morning August 27th, you may have felt like you were transported back in time. It was the sound of the Hingham Memorial Bell Tower’s 10 English Change bells ringing in perfect harmony.
The Hingham Bell Tower had a special visit from a group of 32 ringers from York, England. Lead by Peter Sanderson and ranging in ages 10- to 70-plus, these visitors provided a great opportunity for the group of 10 regular ringers to learn more difficult ringing patterns as well as develop their technical skills. Several times a year the Bell Tower is visited by different ringing guilds from various other towers in the Northeast but this was an exceptional group of talented ringers.
The six-story tower — owned by the town, maintained by the Memorial Bell Tower Committee, and managed by the Historical Commission — is situated next to the Old Ship Meeting House. Built in 1912 to commemorate the town’s 275th anniversary, this is one of only 11 freestanding “change ringing” towers in the world.
The bells are all replicas of bells in churches in Hingham, England, and neighboring English towns and were built by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
Change ringing is the traditional English art of ringing a set of tower bells in an intricate series of changes, or mathematical permutations (different orderings in the ringing sequence), by pulling ropes attached to bell wheels. Today, the 10 bells in Hingham are quite difficult to ring as a result of age and wear.
In 2013, the Bell Tower underwent the 1st phase of significant renovations. The tower floor and stairs were replaced, a concrete floor was added to reinforce the middle level and a system to heat and dehumidify was implemented. Currently, the Historic Commission is seeking community preservation funding for the next phase of renovations to refurbish the bells and their housing components, working on two bells at a time over the course of several years in order to allow 8 of the 10 bells to be rung during the renovations.
Visitors are always welcome on Saturday mornings at 9:30 a.m. to tour the Bell Tower to watch and listen to the bells in action.