Scarrington’s three original bells all date from about 1450 - a rare instance of a complete ring surviving together in the same tower from medieval times. Two of the bells seem to have been founded in York, and one of these carries the badge of the Kempe family (Cardinal John Kempe
was Archbishop of York in 1450). It is not known why these bells should be installed in Scarrington, or whether there was a connection with the Kempes.
But the bells remind us that when they were first hung, Scarrington, with all England’s churches, owed allegiance to Rome. They carry Latin inscriptions in adoration of the Virgin, such as: ‘Sancta Maria ora pro nobis’ and ‘Ave Maria’, worked in an unusual large ‘black letter’ medieval style. Ironically, they must have been heard, not long after they were first hung, by the man who would sever England’s link with Rome at the order of Henry VIII. Thomas Cranmer, future Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr, was born only a mile away in Aslockton in 1489.
Scarrington suffered from the religious turmoil of the sixteenth century - a record of 1559 shows the benefice as void and the churches ‘books burnt’. The church gave sanctuary to a Royalist soldier who hid in the tower during the Civil War
in 1645. By 1800 the building was derelict, but was rebuilt and was further renovated in 1867 (when the bell frame was probably refurbished).
Wear and tear took their toll, and the bells and their frame became unusable during the twentieth century. It is thought that, prior to the restoration, the bells had probably not been rung full-circle since the coronation of King George VI
Although there was no space for a fourth in the tower before restoration, from their tuning, it is surmised they may be the front three from an original diatonic peal of four. The wooden frame (now preserved above the new installation) has original medieval timbers, and may have been cut down from a larger frame before being installed in Scarrington. The frame was overhauled in the nineteenth century, and various constituent timbers replaced. Additional headcills were fitted so that new brass bearings could be fitted into sound timberwork.
At the end of the Twentieth Century it was decided by the people of Scarrington to raise money to restore the ancient bells of the Parish Church of St John of Beverley and add a fourth bell to augment the ring.
The addition of this bell as the new tenor was made possible by a generous donation from Mr James & Mrs Judith Mackness.
The bell was slightly tuned by Messrs Taylor of Loughborough before being hung in Scarrington’s tower, to make it compatible with the existing three. It has the effect of transposing the original ring into a major key.
In April 2002, following extensive work, the bells had been returned to the tower, and masonry work was complete.
A service of re-dedication of the bells was held on 30th June 2002, led by Venerable Gordon Ogilvie, Archdeacon of Nottingham
During the service, the restored bells were rung for the first time
Ringing at Scarrington
Bell Ringers and visiting teams are always welcome at Scarrington.
Should you wish to arrange a visit please contact the Church Warden using the 'contact us' section of this site.
At a meeting of Scarrington Parochial Church Council on 12th December 2002 the following resolution was passed:
“The P.C.C. wishes to place on record its great gratitude to John Flatman (Hon. Treasurer) for the enormous amount of work done by him since mid-1996 in master-minding the restoration of bell ringing to our ancient church.”
In 1996, with the guidance of Southwell Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers and the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, a number of approved contractors were approached and John obtained detailed quotations for the work and costs involved. These were laid before the P.C.C. for the decision in principle to initiate the project.
John then began the task of obtaining grants from various sources, a process that took five years before sufficient funds were available to enable the P.C.C. confidently to agree to instruct a contractor to start work. In parallel with this, John consulted with the church architect, structural engineer, English Heritage, and other advisers, and prepared the application for a Faculty. He also kept village residents informed on progress by means of a series of excellent illustrated newsletters.
Once funds and a faculty were available, in autumn 2001, the P.C.C. agreed that work could begin, and John led a small project group on behalf of the P.C.C. which liaised with the contractors.
As the work neared completion, John was responsible for the formation of a group of trainee bell-ringers from Scarrington residents, and arranged for weekly tuition by a dedicated team from Bingham Band of Ringers, beginning at St John of Beverley, Whatton, and (in December 2002) transferring to Scarrington.
Our bells were re-dedicated on 30th June 2002 by the Archdeacon of Nottingham, the occasion being marked by a very happy drinks and light refreshments party afterwards.
Early on in the project it was realised that, for safety and convenience reasons it would be necessary to install a ringers’ gallery above the porch. After overcoming heritage objections, John initiated the planning and fund-raising for this gallery, before he relinquished the position of Hon. Treasurer to the P.C.C. in early 2003.
John’s drive, hard work and organising ability contributed greatly to the restoration of an important piece of the history of St John of Beverley Scarrington.
Thank you from us all, John.
James Mackness, Churchwarden