Sunday, 19 June 2011

Little Hampden Bell

We had a visit from Matthew Smith on Friday evening. Matthew is a bellringer at kimble but he is currently visiting all the bells in Bucks to collect inscriptions so that he can update the 1897 book “The Church Bells of Buckinghamshire” written by Alfred Cocks.

Our bell at Little Hampden, which is mounted in the first floor of the timber-framed porch, is dated 1791 and was cast by Thomas Mears of London. Matthew reported that this was the year that Thomas took over the foundry from his father so our bell is one of his first. The bell is slung between two wooden beams with no metal bearings. It looks as if the original mounting was nearer the North end of the porch where there are grooves in the beams and another hole for the bellrope in the floor beams. The speculation is that these grooves were wearing too close to the bottom of the beam so rather than repairing them, the bell was simply moved and hung on two new beams. The new beams appear to have been cut with a circular saw whereas the original would have been cut by hand.

Matthew has worked with bells but is currently employed by Smith of Derby - clockmakers. Not watchmakers - but Church and Tower clocks. Have a look at their web site

Our bell is not very secure and Matthew is going to quote for repairing it so we can ring it at services and weddings. I’ll keep you posted.

Alfred Cocks sounds an interesting character. As well as writing “The Church Bells of Buckinghamshire; Their Inscriptions, Founders, Uses and Traditions, Etc.” to give it it’s full title, he was secretary of the Buckinghamshire Archeological Society. Their history has two interesting references:

Alfred  Cocks  had  published  his  monumental Church Bells of  Buckinghamshire  in  1897, a work of  enduring scholarship, and  his  many contributions  to  Records  ranging  from Great  Marlow Church  in  1866 to  the Penn version  of  the Mummers play forty years  later were always scholarly. On a lighter note his three articles which he called Contributions  to  a  Buckinghamshire Vocabulary (VII. 61 and 284, IX.  124) where he records  local dialect, then rapidly being lost, make almost compulsive reading.
Crabbling:  Noise of a pot boiling
Unmournful:  Very,  'She wus unmournful ugly'
Drotchek: Slut
Cribbling:  Lame  'He goes proper cribbling'
Clats:  Horse droppings
Mizzy-muzzy:  'My  poor  head's all ofu mizzy-muzzy'
1896-1908  ALFRED HENEAGE COCKS  (1864-1928) FSA. He was a meticulous scholar and a distinguished naturalist who contributed much to the Society but was a prickly colleague. His many articles cover a wide field but he is best remembered for the monumental The Church Bells of Buckinghamshire published in 1897 which whilst a work of scrupulous scholarship is not improved by the alarming varieties of typeface which he insisted on using.

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