Church bells

Josephine Griffiths

Josephine Griffiths, Campden’s social historian over a century ago, left us her notes, ‘Gossip’, about local life. This extract is from 1908:

“A few days ago, Mr Neve the postmaster, who is a keen antiquarian, botanist, and historian began talking of the bells of the parish church. We are very proud of our curfew, rung every evening at eight o’clock, with the date of the day to follow; and several old friends can remember in their very young days, the curfew being rung at four o’clock in the morning, during the summer; and at five o’clock in the morning, during the winter. This may have been a survival of “The Morrow Mass”, or the call to Matins, before the labourers and travellers went to work, or started on a journey.

“Mrs Tom Bennett of Sheep Street, Miss Grove and others, remember too, the Pancake Bell, which was rung about noon on Shrove Tuesday. When this was heard, they said, all the children would rush out of school to toss the pancakes; or should their mothers already have done so, they would get home as quickly as possible, to eat them before they got cold. The Pancake Bell, was doubtless, a survival of the Shriving Bell; when after a good confession, the Christian soul was cleansed and equipped for keeping a holy and well disciplined Lent.

“All these old friends remember too, the Pudding Bell, rung at noon on Sundays. Father liked this bell, it sounds comforting; and he tells us, that in his young days, noon was the usual time for farmers and agricultural folk to dine. Also, that pudding was generally eaten before meat, as the edge of the appetite was then taken off, and economy regarding the fleshpots, was maintained. “My eyes, and Betty Martins”, he would exclaim, “and what lovely apple pudding you got, at some of the farmhouses! The suet crust was delicious, cracked at the top, and boiled about four hours. With a nob of fresh butter, instead of cream, no one need wish for a better meal!”

“Mr Neve laughed when he thought of how the children would tear down the street and sprint for home, when the Pudding Bell started to ring! But like the six o’clock peal to ring in the festival of the Resurrection on Easter, the present Vicar objected to them, and had our old world bells stopped. We Campdonians think it such a pity! But we still retain a Passing Bell for the Almshouses, the incumbent, and the Lord of the Manor.”

CCHS does not have a full history of the bells in both Campden churches. We would love to hear from someone who would examine the various sources and bring it all together.

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