In 1662 there was a ring of five bells which were
cast in the reign of James I in commemoration of the purchase of the
manor by the town of Hinckley from the Earl of Nottingham in the year
1604. They were cast by Hugh Watts. A treble bell was added by public
subscriptions in 1777. This bell was soon after cracked by lightening
and re-cast in 1785. The tenor was also cracked and re-cast in 1825.
In 1792 two more trebles were added.
The 1908 fine peal consisted of eight bells, which
all hang on one level.
Although the windows of the belfry have been
bricked up, just leaving the top quarter open the bells make a
splendid sound. They resonate well, not only in the vast space of the
belfry, but in the spire above which has 12 openings that let
the sound out.
The famous chiming system was installed in 1792/3.
It operates like a musical box and consists of a mahogany barrel 1.22m
long and 0.91m in diameter. The studs on this barrel operate levers
and hammers attached to the bells. In 1889 the machinery was
overhauled and 5 of the original tunes were changed.
30 inches with inscription " REV. JOHN COLE GALLAWAY, A.M.,
VICAR THOS.TOWLE, CHURCHWARDEN, EDWARD ARNOLD, FECIT, 1792"
Diameter 31 inches with
same inscription as bell 1
Diameter 33 inches, with
inscription "BY THE VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE FRIENDS TO
CHURCH AND KING, WM. TURNER AND THOS. MEWIS, CHURCHWARDENS 1785.
E ARNOLD, FECIT."
Diameter 35 inches with the
same inscription as bell 1
Diameter 36 inches, with the
inscription "CELORUM CHRSTE PLATIAT TIBI REX SONVS ISTE 1617"
Diameter 38 inches, with the
same inscription as bell 5
Diameter 47 inches with the
inscription "IHS : NAZARENVS REX : IVDEORVM FILI : DEI MISERERE
: MEI 1617."
inches, with the inscription : "J.RUDHALL GLOUCESTER FEC., MATTW
BROWN, VICAR, THOS.NEEDHAM, SENR. & WM. TOMLINSON, C.W., 1825"
CLOCK TUNES CHANGING EVERY
24 HOURS AT MIDNIGHT
REPEATED EVERY 3 HOURS
THE PRESENT TIME THIS HAS BEEN TURNED OFF AND ONLY USED ON
104th Psalm. Hymn by Handel
New German Spa
|SINCE 1889 THESE HAVE BEEN
"Aurelia" (the church's one
foundation by S.S. Wesley.
"St Francis Xavier" (My God I
love thee) by Handel
" A loyal song" ( God
"Highland Laddie" ( O where
and O where)
"Lex Benigna" (lead kindly
light) by J.B. Dykes
" Adoro te devote" (thee we
Sicilian Mariners' Hymn
" St Thomas" (now my tongue
the mystery telling)
BELLS, CLOCKS , CHIMES &
The church contains one of the finest
peals of bells in the county. Five of
these were first cast at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Gradually over the years three more were added. In 1925 all eight were
re-cast with additional metal. The tenor (heaviest) weighs 22 cwts
tonnes). They were re-hung on a massive old oak frame. Although the
windows of the belfry have been bricked up, just leaving the top quarter
open, the bells make a splendid sound. They resonate well, not only in
the vast space of the belfry, but in the spire above which itself has
twelve openings, allowing the bells to be heard all over Hinckley.
Hand bells &
St Mary’s also possesses a set of hand bells kept in the ringing
chamber. Also in the ringing chamber is a cast iron chest made in 1832
for parish records.The clock
Installed by Gillett and Bland of Croydon in 1876. It strikes the
(Westminster chimes) on four bells, and the hour on the tenor bell.
The English way of ringing church bells began in this country and is
quite unlike anything on the continent. For centuries church bells have
been chimed from below by means of ropes attached to simple levers fixed
to the headstocks from which the bells were hung. The replacement of
levers by full wheels, which began in sixteenth-century England gave the
ringers better control of their bells, allowing sets of bells to be rung
in systematically changing patterns. The bells are tuned to a normal
(diatonic) scale and it is usual to start with ringing down the scale, a
sequence which ringers call “rounds”. The order in which the bells sound
is then altered to give different sequences called “changes”. Changes
may be called out individually by the conductor, and this style is
known as call-change ringing. Alternatively, the changes may be made to
a pre-set pattern or “method”, and each ringer must learn that method in
order to know when his or her particular bell must sound in each row -
St Mary’s ringers meet on Monday evenings, and new recruits are
In the clock room, above the ringing chamber, installed in 1792/3. It
like a musical box and consists of a mahogany barrel 1.22 m long and
diameter. The studs on this barrel operate levers and hammers attached
bells. The tunes change every twenty four hours, at midnight, except
Sunday the tune is also changed at mid-day. In 1889 the machinery was
overhauled and five of the original tunes were changed. The only
now remaining are: ‘Hymn by Handel’, ‘A loyal song’ (The National
and ‘Highland Laddie’. Other tunes are ‘Aurelia’ by S. S. Wesley, ‘St.
Xavier’ by Handel, ‘Lux Benigna’ by J. B. Dykes, ‘Adoro te’, ‘Sicilian
Hymn’, ‘St. Thomas’. This mechanism is badly worn and needs major
In 1925, Louis Vierne, the world famous organist of Notre Dame in Paris,
composer, while on his second tour of England gave a recital in St
spent the night following the recital in Hinckley. He stayed with a
Paul Rochard, the organist of St. Mary’s whose house was close to the
Vierne was a light sleeper and was kept awake by the Chimes which
every three hours. He later composed “Les Cloches de Hinckley” (‘The