The Bells of St Mary’s Church Polstead - History
The six bells of St Mary's have been rung on a regular basis for church services since the early years after the Second World War. In those early years they were very difficult to ring because of their poor condition at that time. It was decided that the bells would need to be retuned and work would also need to be done on the tower and the bell frame.
This work would be expensive and the Suffolk Guild of Bell Ringers agreed to meet part of the cost, but a lot of the required money would have to be raised by the bellringers of Polstead and their supporters. A small group of enthusiastic people, led by the late Stephen Oxford and which included Elsie Braybrook, set out on the task to raise the required funds.
Whist Drives (a real money spinner at the time) were held twice a year; mounds of homemade scones were made and consumed at these events. The team went out and rang hand bells around the village and collected money for their efforts. It was a wonderful event when someone gave them a sixpence - at a time when pennies rather than pounds went into the tin.
The hard work was not in vain, and on December 18th 1955 the Bishop of Dunwich rededicated the six bells of St Mary's. The bells had been retuned and re-hung in a modern frame, with ball-bearings and new fittings by John Taylor & Co Loughborough. The builder was the local firm of WB Kingsbury and Sons Ltd, Boxford. The Rev John Whitmore was the Rector.
The Bellringers of St Mary’s Church Polstead - Today
July 2007 saw a new set of bell ropes with sallies of blue and gold fitted, the second or third set since 1955. The work was done by Charlie Abblitt, a ringer and friend from Stratford St Mary, helped by Sue Freeman our Tower Captain. Again the bellringers met half of the cost of this project, the Parochial Church Council meeting the rest of the cost.
The first Saturday of September each year sees the local ringers, accompanied by ringers from other local churches and friends, going on their annual outing to ring at various towers. Over the years they have visited towers in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Kent, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. This is an event enjoyed by all.
The Polstead Team ringing in competition at Nayland in June 2008. We did not win - but our Tower Captain Sue joined the Kersey bellringers as they were one short
- and they did win!
Polstead ringers are members of the Suffolk Guild of Bell Ringers and Guild events are held at the tower. In June this year the South West District striking competition was held at Polstead and nine teams from other local towers competed for the shield, awarded to the team ringing the bells with the minimum of errors.
Visiting teams of ringers come to ring the bells of St Mary's during the year, and this year among the visitors were the ringers of Chelmsford Cathedral and 20 members of the Ladies Guild.
New recruits for bell ringing are always welcome, as are visiting ringers. Practice night is Monday 7:15pm to 9pm. The weight of the tenor bell is approximately 10cwt (half a ton, 508 kgs)
Anyone who is interested in learning to ring should contact Sue Freeman on 01206 262873 email
The Suffolk Guild of Ringers