Latest Tower News

Thursday 9th June - Sunday 12th June 2022 - Advanced Notice.
To bring our augmentation project to a close St Mary's Church will be holding a 4 day flower festival finishing on Sunday 12th June when the Bishop of Taunton will dedicate our bells in a service at 3pm.
During the 4 days of the flower festival the tower will be open for guided tours and the cafe open for light refreshments. 

Saturday 9th April 2022.  The branch striking contest was held at Ashcott.  A strong effort by the team from St Mary's Bridgwater gained them a 3rd place finish behind Woolavington in 2nd with Ashcott retaining the trophy for another year.  Well done to all who took part.
The team clockwise from top left - Kate Wolfe, Richard Lee, Johnathan Trigg, Margaret Lee, Isabel Kennedy and Keith Lane

Also at the branch meeting, which followed the striking contest, Young Ringer Lily Racknell received her association membership certificate and an award for completing Level 1 on the ART Learning The Ropes scheme. Both were presented by Freda Prime - Branch Chairman.

Wednesday 16th February 2022.  A group of military people who were researching the Duke of Monmouth's route to the Battle of Sedgemoor visited St Mary's to see the view of the battlefield from the tower.

Sunday 13th February 2022.  Katie Wolfe received her membership certificate to the Bath and Wells Association from tower captain Margaret Lee during Sunday service ringing.

Sunday 9th January 2022.  During Sunday service ringing our Vicar Rev Suse Osmond presented Isabel Kennedy with a certificate in recognition of passing Level 2 on the ART Learning The Ropes scheme.

Saturday 1st January 2022.  A band of our ringers rang in the new year at midnight.  Our bells sounded out against the background of fireworks set off from the town centre.  Happy New Year to near and far.

Tuesday 14th December 2021.  Bridgwater U3A tower bell ringing group enjoyed a Christmas lunch at the Tudor hotel.

Saturday 11th December 2021.  The ringers from the Bridgwater Branch, and friends, enjoyed a traditional Christmas practice with mince pies and mulled wine.

Saturday 4th December 2021.  18 St Mary's ringers and friends enjoyed a Christmas lunch at the Old Vicarage Hotel. 

Tuesday 30th November 2021. The final meeting of the Bridgwater U3A tower bell ringing group for this year, we will recommence on Tuesday 4th January 2022.

Sunday 14th November 2021. Six half muffled bells were rung for the 11am remembrance service. 

Tuesday 9th November 2021.  Year 1 children from Eastover School spent the morning in the church and enjoyed a tour of the tower to see the views over the town. 

Saturday 30th October 2021.  At 6.00pm six bells were rung after an appeal for all towers worldwide to  ‘ring out for climate’ on the eve of the COP26 as a symbol of warning, but also of hope.”  

Thursday 7th October 2021.  Eight bells rang out this evening in celebration for the licensing service of the Revd. Suse Osmond who has now become our vicar.

Wednesday 29th September 2021. The church welcomed a visit by year six pupils from St John's and St Francis School Bridgwater.  Their time spent in the church included a brief tour to the top of the tower for the views out over the town and the site of the battle of sedgemoor in the distance. 

Thursday 23rd September 2021.  Work began to fit a new carpet in the tower room and ringing chamber as part of our augmentation project.  This is expected to take a few days. 

Tuesday 21st September 2021.  Resumption of Bridgwater U3A bell ringing group. 

Photo by John Hallett
Saturday 4th September 2021.  At the monthly 12 bell practice Rosemary Tuhey - Tower Captain St Mary's Taunton, pictured on the right, presented a tower minute record book from Bridgwater dated 1933-1953 to Margaret Lee.  This book came to light only recently and contains a fascinating insight to tower activities during this period.

Wednesday 25th August 2021.  The hand bell ringing group met for the first time since the restrictions were lifted.  Anyone interested in  learning to ring will be welcome every Wednesday 10am to 12noon.

Tuesday 17th August 2021.  The inaugural ring on our 12 bells by some of the ringers and towers who have supported the augmentation project.

Thursday 15th July 2021.


Domestic - Commercial - Industrial

Darren French started work to replace the ageing and worn out light fittings throughout the tower.  As part of our augmentation project commitment is to be carbon neutral all the old bulkhead and fluorescent light fittings, including the difficult to reach flagstaff and illuminated clock face, are being changed for the latest low energy LED units so that the Church will benefit from lower energy usage.  Visitors to the tower will also benefit from safer and brighter illumination to the ancient tower steps and rooms.  

Monday 19th July 2021.  
Aspiring Crafters will meet in the Church 10-12 noon every Monday, except bank holidays.  A social way to craft so come and share your ideas and knowledge while sharing coffee and cake for just £2.
'Good things come from those who Craft' 🙂

Saturday 10th July 2021.  At 11.00 St Mary's bells will ring out to open the Bridgwater Quayside Festival 2021.

Tuesday 6th July 2021.  Year 5 children from St Mary's School Bridgwater spent their day in the Church learning about it's history and traditions.  They worked in four groups and all were given escorted tours of the tower to see the ringing chamber, clock room, belfry and the views of the town from the top.

Monday 5th July 2021.  96 Changes of Plain Hunt Minimus were rung to celebrate Social Care and Front Line Workers Day.  

Wednesday 23rd June 2021.  Children from St Mary's School Bridgwater spent their day in the Church learning about it's history and traditions.  They worked in four groups and all were given escorted tours of the tower to see the ringing chamber, clock room, belfry and the views of the town from the top.

Thursday 3rd June 2021.  Tony Shearsby, friend of St Mary's Bells, used his wood working skills to modify the clapper ties to fit our augmented bells.  We use these wooden ties to secure the clappers in the mid position when teaching bell handling to newcomers.  Also we have the facility to tie 12 bells and with the use of an Abel simulator can ring with the bells silent for practice or training with the sounds produced through a laptop in the ringing chamber.  Our three heaviest bells now have clappers with square profile wooden shafts for easier ringing. 

Monday 25th May 2021.  Resumption of Monday night practise and Sunday service ringing.  These events are restricted under Covid conditions to 45 minutes and limited to ringers by invitation only from the tower captain.

Friday 14th May 2021.  
Simon Gilchrist fitting and fine tuning the chiming hammers to our newly augmented bells. During the project the five bells used for clock chiming are in a different location from where they were which required a complete re-installation of the associated mechanism.

This picture taken during the work shows how the clock chiming hammers are connected to the clockworks by the use of high quality custom made cranks and stainless steel wires.  The use of a wooden platform allows the wires to cross over without interference.  

Saturday 17th April.  A single half muffled bell was tolled for five minutes before the funeral of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

9th and 10th April 2021.  A single half muffled bell was tolled in tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Easter Sunday 4th April 2021.  Four bells were rung for fifteen minutes at morning service under strict Cv-19 restrictions with ringers able to maintain 2m distancing between ropes and the wearing of suitable face coverings.

Tuesday 23rd March 2021.  At 12.01pm a half muffled bell was tolled 100 times to mark National Day of Reflection.  

Wednesday 17th March 2021.  Work begins by Simon Gilchrist, turret clock specialist, to restore the clock to full working order subsequent to our augmentation project when it was necessary to disconnect the drive to the clock face.  It is planned that by the weekend the clock will display the correct time and the chimes will soon ring out on the quarters and hour.  The chimes will be silenced between the hours of 21.00-07.00.  Unusual timings of the chimes may be heard during the work.  This work has been delayed by the Cv-19 pandemic.  This picture shows the high quality engineered solution for diverting the clock dial drive around the bells.

Saturday 27th February 2021.  A single half muffled bell was tolled 100 times at 12 noon to mark the life of Capt Sir Tom Moore.

Tuesday 22nd December 2020.  Taylor's returned to install the Sound Control system, we now have the facility to operate this from the ringing chamber.

Saturday 19th December 2020. Congratulations to John Taylor & Co.  '...The Loughborough Bellfoundry Trust has been awarded a grant of £3.45 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  This will at last enable the major scheme to restore and develop the Foundry buildings and site to begin.
This major grant will be added to matched funding of £1.5 million already raised, together with money from other sources, and major donations in kind. A further £1.3 million pounds worth of repairs has already been successfully completed in the past two years, giving a total spend approaching £7 million! What a lovely Christmas Present...'
Thursday 17th December 2020.  No change to our tier level has been announced so there will be no group ringing for the foreseeable future. 

Tuesday 8th December 2020.   Taylor's began work today to install the triple glazed units of the environmental sound control system to each window in the belfry.  We will have the facility to operate this from the ringing chamber during practices or extended periods of ringing.  Also today the commemorative oak sapling, planted in the churchyard one year ago but did not come out of last year's hibernation, was replaced by Steve and Mary Adams of Rhode Farm.

Tuesday 1st December 2020.  When the national lockdown is lifted our district will be in Tier 2 so no group ringing will take place until further notice.

Saturday 28th November 2020.  When the national lockdown is lifted we will be in Tier 2 so no decision has been made on when ringing will recommence. 

Thursday 19th November 2020.  Tower Captain Margaret Lee says a big thank you to the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting our bell augmentation project.  #ThanksToYou #NationalLottery
'We are the newest ring of 12 Bells in the Country and it's all thanks to YOU for playing the National Lottery.  Thank you from St Mary's Bellringers Bridgwater Somerset'

Wednesday 11th November 2020.  Tolled a single bell in remembrance for two minutes from 10.56 this morning. 

Sunday 8th Novmeber 2020.  Tolled a single bell in remembrance for two minutes from 10.56 this morning. 

Friday 6th November 2020.  Unfortunately due to lock down restrictions ringing is currently suspended until further notice.

Friday 4th September 2020.  Ringing has resumed at St Mary's on our new peal of bells 🙂   We have asessed the risks in accordance with the current guidelines and we now hold a 15 minute, invitation only, 6 bell rehearsal on Friday afternoon with the same band ringing their bell again on Sunday morning for service. 

Wednesday 2nd September 2020.  We have a new spider in the tower.

Sunday 30th August 2020.  For Sunday service, and the final by our Vicar Preb Trish Ollive who leaves us to retire, 6 bells were rung keeping our distance.  We are smiling underneath and are very happy for Trish and Mike.

Friday 24th July 2020.  All ropes fitted.

Test ring of our new bells by the people in the CV-19 bubble during installation.

8th July 2020.  The wheels and fittings are hauled up to the belfry.

29th June 2020.  The bells and castings (H frames) are lifted up into the belfry.

Clockwise from top left: Andrew C. Ogden (Taylors), Anthony Hart (Taylors), Richard Lee (Tower Tutor), Margaret Lee (Tower Captain), John Hallett (Westonzoyland ringer and B&W Bell Adviser)

Click here to see the tenor bell being raised up to the belfry 📽
May not work on all formats.

..... and a very heavy spider.

25th June 2020.  The bells return from the foundry.

18th June 2020.  New bell frame almost complete.

11th June 2020.  The new bell frame arrives at the Church.

8th June 2020.  One of 4 belfry windows ready for the remote controlled triple glazed sound control unit.

Our bells in readiness at the foundry

Our new 5th bell in the tuning shop.  This bell will become the flat 6th in our augmented peal of 13 bells.
The frame with bell fittings in assembly.

April 23rd 2020.  Unable to ring in celebration of St George's Day, but undaunted, some of us met via Zoom for a chat and a laugh!

Thursday 5th March 2020.  The final visit to the foundry on a Berrys coach to see our last new bell cast, the frame under construction and the bells in the workshop.

Our current 6th bell, or 10th in the new peal of 12, in the workshop.

Empty belfry - not seen for over 100 years

20th December 2019. After two arduous weeks our 8 bells and frame have been removed and transported to Taylor's foundry at Loughborough.  We look forward to the Spring of 2020 when a peal of 13 bells will be returned and installed to St Mary's tower.

12th December 2019.  Second Berrys coach trip the the foundry at Loughborough to watch the 2nd and 4th of our 5 new bells cast. 

1st December 2019. At Sunday service ringing 2 bell ringers were awarded their LtR Level 1 certificates by Rev Suse Ison-Stierer.  Pictured LtoR are Richard Lee - Tower Tutor, Chris Tottle, Suse Ison-Stierer and Tracy Rolph.

30th November 2019. The ringers were at the Glastonbury Frost Fayre selling items of craft to raise funds and to promote ringing and our augmentation project.

21st November 2019.  Tree planting morning by the children of St Mary's School.  13 oak saplings, planted with kind support from project delivery partner Steve Adams at Rhode Farm, will create St Mary's Copse. It is hoped these trees will, throughout their lifetime, sequester all the carbon that is emitted to atmosphere during the casting of 5 new bells.  A further single oak sapling was planted in St Mary's churchyard by the Vicar, Prebendary Trish Ollive,  Joyce Barclay-Allen, from the congregation and Margaret Lee, Tower Captain, to commemorate the whole augmentation project.

Monday 11th November.  At the tower AGM 3 bell ringers were awarded their LtR Level 1 certificates by Preb Trish Ollive.  Pictured LtoR are Gerry Huxtable, Trish Ollive, Jo Huxtable and Diane Adams.

Saturday 9th November 2019. The public unveiling of the Poppy Waterfall installation which was the idea of Margaret Lee.  The intention was to commemorate in knitted poppies the lives of 349 local servicemen
who lost their lives during the great war.  However, due to the efforts of local and international knitters more than 800 knitted and crocheted poppies were produced to decorate other areas of the Church. The display was put together by the local bell ringers.
Saturday 2nd November 2019. The tower will again be open during the daytime festivities before the Bridgwater Illuminated Carnival later in the evening.

26th October 2019.  The tower was opened to visitors during the Bridgwater Hospital League of Friend fete.

14th October 2019.  Some of the ringers, and a friend, sewing poppies to be displayed in church on Remembrance Sunday.

9th October 2019.  The first Bridgwater U3A hand bell session.  This is the first of regular sessions to be held in the church every Wednesday 1.30-3.30pm.

5th October 2019.  Rob Stevenson, assistant tower captain, receiving the Luxon trophy from Chairman Freda Prime at the branch AGM. This annual award is for the best improver in the Bridgwater branch.

3rd October 2019.  The first Berrys coach trip to Taylor's Bell Foundry to see the 1st and 3rd of our new bells cast

18th September 2019.  The Bridgwater Homberg Twinning Group were given a guided tour of the tower. 

13th September 2019.  St Mary's tower is open to visitors as part of national Heritage Open Days.

11th September 2019.  Margaret and Richard Lee gave a presentation to the Bridgwater Civic Society at the Victoria Community Centre.  Subjects covered were a brief history of bells and the Church, learning to ring, bell methods and the enjoyment that ringing activities provide. 

4th September 2019.  Tower Captain Margaret Lee at a site meeting with project delivery partner 
Stephen Adams at Rhode Farm near Bridgwater.  Rhode Farm has kindly allocated a plot of land which will accommodate 13 saplings provided by St Mary's ringers as part of their exciting bell augmentation project.  As these trees mature they will sequester more than all the carbon produced during the casting of 5 new bells which will ring out over Bridgwater, just visible in the background, for hundreds of years in the future.

25th August 2019.  Vicar Trish Ollive presented Angela Creasey with a Level 1 LtR certificate.  Also pictured is Gina Scarboro Angela's tutor.

13th August 2019. Visit by Bristol Civic Society when the members were given a ringing demonstration and a guided tour to the top of the tower for the panoramic views of Bridgwater. 

20th July 2019.  The tower will be open for guided tours during Bridgwater's Quayside Festival.

23rd June 2019.  Vicar Trish Ollive presented Johnathan Trig with Level 1 and Rob Stevenson with Level 2 LtR certificates.  Also pictured is Richard Lee tower tutor.

22nd June 2019.  Branch Improver session on Raising and Lowering.

Jane Cooke
9th July 1958 - 2nd June 2019
Honorary member of St Mary's Ringers.
A quarter peal was rung by her friends on Tuesday 18th June 2019  in celebration of her life and all she did for the tower.

15th June 2019 - St Mary's ringers enjoying an ice cream in Taunton on their tower outing.

12th June 2019 - Hand bells coming to the tower. 
If you are interested in ringing hand bells watch this space. In the autumn we will be starting a new group dedicated to hand bells in addition to our tower bell ringing activities. Use the contact page to get in touch and we will keep you up to date with our plans.

16th May 2019 - Bawdrip History Group visited the tower.  They experienced a guided tour to the top of the tower, the belfry, clock room and Church.

15th May 2019 - St Mary's Brownies visit to the tower.

13th & 14th May 2019 - Visit to the tower by pupils from year 4 at St Mary's School Bridgwater

20th July 2019 - Tower open day for the Quayside Festival

2nd May 2019 - Shapwick Cub Pack visit to the tower

24th April 2019 - Bridgwater Air Cadets visit to the tower

23rd April 2019 - St Mary's ringers and friends Ringing For England on St Georges Day.

13th April 2019 - ART course on the use of simulators held in the Sedgemoor Ringing Centre

27th April 2019 - Bridgwater Food Festival, the tower will be open during the day.