After months of silence from St Mary's bell tower, necessary for improvements to the safety equipment for climbing the tower, one of our faithful has gallantly ascended to the bells so that after several hours of work all eight of them are now back in use. Those in Warrington who are nearby will notice that the programme for the bells is as follows:
- Every day at 7am, 12noon & 6pm (except Sundays, when the Angelus Bell rings at 7am only, to avoid interrupting Holy Masses at 11am and 6pm).
Chiming the hour:
- Every day from 8am to 10pm (except at 12noon for the Angelus).
Tolling for Holy Mass:
- Sundays at 10:50am – rings all 8 bells to a ‘Bob Major’ peal for 9.5 mins. The peal is chosen rather than simply the tolling bell as being more fitting for a sung / polyphonic Mass. It stops short of 1100hrs in order to allow for the hour to be struck for the 11am Mass.
- Sundays also at 5:55pm a single tolling bell for 4.5 mins for the 6pm Mass.
- Monday to Saturday at 12:05pm a single tolling bell for 5 mins for the 12:10pm Mass.
Spirituality of Church Bells
A rich meditation on the manifold meaning of bells is given in the outstanding book, Nothing Superfluous (Redbrush, 2016) by Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP. Below are a couple of pertinent pages.
From lofty contemplation to practical nuts and bolts, the report on the work done to get our eight bells ringing again includes the following points:
The anti-pigeon netting had developed a hole so I evicted the squatters and made good the hole using cable ties.
The electro-magnetic clapper housing had been knocked away from the great bell as people had rung it using the rope without disabling the system using the switch near the organ blower. Fortunately all of the nuts and bolts and washers were on the floor so I could refit this. I have drawn the rope for ringing this bell up into the tower to reduce the risk of this happening again. It can be let down again if you want it for the odd occasion...
The bell that rings the Angelus was completely broken as a bolt had sheared off and the clapper was hanging lose. I managed to get the correct bolt from my dad's stock and refitted this correctly. We now have the Angelus back!
The service tolling bell was not working at all as it had come away from the bell because of torsion created by the mechanism being partially seized. I managed to free it up using WD40, but it was in a really bad way. This bell will automatically call people to Mass now from Monday to Saturday.
I lubricated all the remaining bells and checked their bolts for tightness. Even though the tower is largely dry, the damp atmosphere in Warrington really takes its toll (excuse the pun!)
So the devotion of our forebears is appreciated still.