Saffron Walden Society of Change Ringers

Finchingfield, Essex, St John the Baptist

Monday May 30 1825 in 3 hours 17 minutes

5120 Oxford Treble Bob Major

Matthew Ward 1 David Smart 5
James Bennett, jun. 2 Samuel Francis 6
James Bennett, sen. 3 Richard Miller (C) 7
Thomas Rannow 4 William Spicer 8
PB-ID: 354-7FA
From Ringing World Sept. 7, 1934:



Dear Sir,-In the last issue of 'The Ringing World' a peal of Oxford Treble Bob rung at Finchingfield in Essex was recorded, and the report stated that it was believed to be the first peal of Oxford on the bells.

About 28 years ago we made up a band and went one Sunday from Coggleshall and rang at Wethersfield in the morning and Finchingfield in the afternoon and evening. We had dinner at the Green Man in Finchingfield, and in the room where we had dinner there was a splendid old peal board recording a peal of Oxford Treble Bob, 5,280 [sic] changes, rung by the Saffron Walden Company on Finchingfield bells. I cannot remember in what year it was rung, but the same men took part in it who rang the Double Norwich at Saffron Walden in 1817, conducted by R Miller. How the board came to be in that public-house I could never understand. After a while the Green Man was burnt down and the peal board was burnt with it. Perhaps someone else may throw some light on it, but it was a shame that such a peal board was ever taken out of the church. I doubt if there are any ringers in the district who remember anything about it. D H ELLIOTT, Boxford, Suffolk.

From Ringing World Sept. 14, 1934:


Dear Sir,-A party of ringers visited Finchingfield in 1890 and attempted to ring a, peal of Bob Major, but the conductor, Mr. C. Sillitoe, of Sudbury, let the bells run home at the half way owing to their bad go. The late Samuel Slater was one of these, and he saw the peal board mentioned in the last issue of 'The Ringing World' by Mr. D. H . Elliott, and made a copy of it, and, of course, made enquiries concerning it. The Landlord of the inn told him that at the restoration of the church, which took place after the peal was rung the board recording it was taken down and put with a lot of old wood, which the landlord bought for firewood, but thinking it was too good to chop up, he hung it in the parlour at the inn. I cannot give you a copy of it, as the MSS recording the incident are not at home at present.

When Samuel Slater went to Saffron Walden again he made inquiries concerning the peal which had been forgotten, and from the old ringers he gained this information. When the band met to start for the peal only seven men were there, and Matthew Adcock Ward, a young ringer, who had come to hear the peal, was asked to ring the treble and did so. He was so pleased with it that he wrote the board to record the peal and gave it to the church. When the inn was destroyed by fire the board perished with it. I am glad to find that other persons have seen the board.

I might also say that Samuel Slater did not find any peals rung on the bells by local men, so I do not think any peals were rung on them by a Finchingfield band.   T. E. SLATER, Hunts Hill, Glemsford.

From Ringing World Sept. 21, 1934:


Dear Sir,-I am much obliged to Messrs. D. H. Elliott and T. E. Slater for their letters which have appeared in 'The Ringing World' with regard to the above. I may say that I had not seen the board and was under the impression by remarks made by Mr. W. Smith, of Dunmow, who rang the 7th in the peal on August 25th last and who has seen the board, that it recorded a peal of Kent, but this is not so. By the courtesy of Mr. C. H . Howard, who has supplied me with the information, I am now able to give full particulars. On the 30th May, 1925, was rung at St. John's Church, Finchingfield , Essex, a peal of 5,120 changes of Oxford Treble Bob Major in 3 hours and 17 minutes: Matthew Ward 1, James Bennett, jun., 2, James Bennett, sen., 3, Thomas Rannow 4, David Smart 5, Samuel Francis 6, Richard Miller 7, William Spicer 8. Called by Mr. Miller.

This will, I think, set all doubts at rest about a previous peal of Oxford on the bells, and, I may add, Mr. Slater's letter gives us the information as to how the board came to be removed out of the belfry. I am informed by Mr. Howard that an offer was made to the landlord of the inn to replace the board in the belfry, but, alas, before this good intention could be carried out, it was destroyed by fire. I think that the Essex Association might with advantage give the matter their attention, viz., the care of old peal boards so as to prevent any destruction of any in the future.--Yours truly, W. KEEBLE, Rye Lane, Feering.

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