Huntsham - History of the bells
On the right is the campanula window at the western end of Huntsham church. Detail of the top section is shown below.
Three bells are listed in the church inventory of 1553 and three bells summoned the parishioners to worship in their restored church on Sunday 2 November 1856. Each of the divisions in the tracery of the west window to the tower has three bell flowers, campanulas, designed by Arthur Troyte to illustrate the three bells in the tower restored by him between 1854 and 1856.
Arthur Troyte's eldest son Charles inherited the estate in June 1857 on the death of his father at the age of 46. Charles was 15 years of age when he inherited Huntsham and for several years managed the estate under the supervision of his uncle Sir Thomas Acland of Killerton. In 1866 Charles Troyte arranged for Taylors of Loughborough to augment the ring of three into a ring of six bells. One of the pre-1856 bells was lost in this process. In 1866 the ring of six bells was as follows:
All six bells were hung on one level in a new timber frame with all the bells swinging N-S.
Within eight years the Huntsham band had rung extents of Grandsire Doubles and Minor and of Kent Treble Bob Minor and Charles Troyte's interest turned to ringing on eight bells. He commissioned Taylors to augment the ring of six into a ring of eight with a heavier tenor. This Taylors did by casting a new tenor bell and a new treble and by re-casting the existing 4 th bell. This gave a ring of eight with the following details:
The back six bells were re-hung in the 1866 wooden frame. This necessitated some fairly drastic cutting away of the frame sides and the stonework in the bell chamber to enable the bells to swing full circle. The two trebles were hung in a new wooden frame located above the 1866 frame. In this arrangement all eight bells swung N-S but the roping down of the treble proved difficult, and was achieved only by bringing the rope down within the thickness of the tower wall to enable it to pass the lower frame.
The bells appear sound but are only fair for tone and tune. The 5 th is slightly flat, the 4 th slightly sharp and the 3 rd , 2 nd and treble conspicuously sharp. Tonally the 5 th , 4 th and 3 rd are rather poor and the treble and 2 nd are very poor indeed. None of these eight bells has the cannons intact.
In September 1874 the first 'peal' was rung on the new eight by an all-Devon band. However, the quality of the ringing was not good enough for Charles Troyte's band and this 'peal' was not counted as such. The first peal by an all-Devon band was rung on these bells in February 1875.
After much discussion the eight will be re-modelled to enable as many as possible of the older bells to be retained, as follows:
The new fifth bell will be knows as The Presidents' Bell and will carry the following inscription in relief:
THE GUILD OF DEVONSHIRE RINGERS
THE PRESIDENTS' BELL
CHARLES A.W. TROYTE 1874-1896
REV. MAITLAND KELLY 1896-1924
REV. EVERARD S. POWELL 1924-1933
REV. ERNEST VIVIAN COX 1933-1961
REV. JOHN H.B. ANDREWS 1961-1973
BRIAN PIDGEON 1973-1986
REV. ROBERT A. SOUTHWOOD 1986-1998
GEORGE E. MUDGE 1998
The new treble bell will be known as the Troyte bell and will carry the following inscription in relief:
CHARLES A.W. TROYTE
AUDI, VIDE, TACE
The Latin quotation is taken from the preface of the first edition of Charles Troyte's book Change Ringing and freely translated reads: 'Keep ears and eyes about you, and hold your tongue".
The 1874 tenor and the 1874 fifth bell are to become the property of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry who will undertake to find new homes for them.
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