Bells played a prominent part in the dispute between the monks and the townspeople at the beginning of the fifteenth century. The monks objected to the townspeople having bells of their own, which could be rung independently from the Norman north-west tower, whilst the townspeople objected to their own bells being overshadowed by the monastic bells, hung so much higher within the new central tower. Ultimately these wrangles resulted in the townspeople building the present western tower.
It is recorded that the Parish possessed bells in 1410; an additional one was added in 1500, and another in 1534. At the dissolution of the Abbey in 1538 the parishioners raised money to buy the monastic bells, and these were moved from the central tower, unroofed by the King’s commissioners, to the western tower. This must have given the Parish a ring of at least eight bells. Ten years later, however, six of these bells were sold to an Ipswich merchant, Thomas Cowper, presumably because it was feared that they would be confiscated by Edward VI’s commissioners. By 1552 only two bells remained, weighing 18cwt and 25cwt.
By the beginning of the eighteenth century the Abbey possessed five bells, and these were used for change ringing. But by the beginning of the 1800s the timbers of the bell frame had become too dilapidated for ringing to continue, and it seems that the bells were silent throughout most of the nineteenth century. A new frame was built in 1903, and three new bells were added to the ring. Finally in 1967 the bell-frame was lowered and extended, and the eight bells were re-cast by the Whitechapel Foundry to form a ring of ten. The tenor bell of this ring weighs over 26cwt.
The ringing chamber is spacious, and besides the usual records of ringers and ringing, it contains an interesting collection of six funerary hatchments, all relating to the Burroughes family. These lozenge-shaped boards, bearing the coat of arms of a deceased person, were carried in the funeral procession of that person, and then hung for some months on the front of their house. After which it was usual to hang them inside the parish church.
Practice: Tuesday 7.30-9.00 pm (N.B. as the ringing room is a long way upstairs, the church door is unlocked at 7.30 and 8.00 only). Sunday: 9.55 to 10.30 and 6.00-6.30 pm. Visiting ringers are always very welcome.
Contact the Ringing Master, Hayden Charles, email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you will be travelling a long way- there may be occasional changes to the usual arrangements. The bellringers also have their own website at www.wymondhambells.org.uk