Church bells have been rung to reflect the mood of this nation for centuries but there have been a few times when their ringing has been silenced by edict. In recent history this has happened during the two world wars of the last century. 100 years ago on November 11th an armistice was declared to end World War 1 this resulted in the bells of our country being rung again to celebrate the end of hostilities. Hundreds of thousands of men fought in that war and too many lost their lives. Amongst those fighting on behalf of this country were many men who at home rang the bells of their local church. One such man was Sergeant Frank Teece Humphries who was a ringer at Eckington church. Frank was amongst the 1400 bell ringers who did not come back from that war and on 28th September 2017 one hundred years to the day of his death some of the current local ringers rang a quarter peal on Eckington bells in memory of Frank.
Our current Government have asked that bells play a significant part in marking the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice and so Eckington bells will ring for this occasion. In our small town of Eckington a considerable number of the young men lost their lives in that war. 85 of these men are remembered on our war memorial on Church Street. This year there will be various activities around the 11th November to commemorate those men and the coming of peace. Eckington Town Team will be hosting a number of events and have collaborated with the church to coordinate activities. Look out for announcements of their events too.
The bells will first be heard on Thursday evening 8th November rung, half muffled in respect for those who died in all wars, prior to a concert to be held in the church entitled “When the guns fell silent…a musical commemoration”. The ringing will tail off to a single tolling bell just prior to the concert commencing at 7:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to join us on this occasion of appropriate music to commemorate all those who gave their lives in that terrible war whatever their nationality. There will be pieces in recognition of all who suffered.
As is usual the bells will be again heard half muffled before the 10:00 a.m. Remembrance Day service on Sunday 11th November. The Government has asked, as part of an initiative entitled Ringing Remembers, that as many bells as possible are rung from 12:30 p.m. on that Sunday (not muffled) to remember the feeling of relief and celebration at the ending of that war! Eckington bells will be rung for this and again at 7:05 p.m. to coincide with the lighting of beacons across the country as part of another initiative that evening entitled “Battle’s Over”.
Listen out for Eckington’s bells reflecting the changing moods from sombre to celebration of peace and join in in the many activities happening during those few days.