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Rayne Bells

Prior to the rebuilding of the Church in 1840 there were 4 bells hanging in the tower. It would appear that these were getting difficult to ring. They were replaced – probably recast – by a ring of 5 bells so that they were rung in an anticlockwise circle in a substantial oak frame. 
History shows that in the 1890’s there was a competent band of ringers, who rang the first 4 peals on the bells between 1890 and 1904. Clearly the band felt that they could ring more complicated methods if there were 6 bells rather than 5. It was also probable that the bells needed an overhaul, and between 1910 and 1913 they were overhauled and augmented to the present ring of 6 bells. The frame needed to be modified to include the extra “pit” for the new treble, which was caste in 1913. The modification to the frame 
involved cutting a section from the top, installing an Iron beam across the frame, and using the cut-out section to help complete the new pit. The bells were also hung in a clockwise circle, which is now almost universal   

Sadly, several of the ringers names from before the first world war also appear on the war memorial. Not much is known about a local band between the two world wars. The bells were rung by ringers from around the area, and the first peal on the augmented ring was in 1934.

This situation continued after the second world  war, when peals were rung at intervals, as well as more general ringing for services etc by ringers from neighbouring towers. A number of record peals were rung on the bells, and in 1966 peals in first 135 and then 145 methods were rung. This latter record of the most methods rung in a peal stood for many years.                                                        
In 1977, the present band was established and has continued to flourish.

1979 was the centenary year of the Essex Association of change Ringers and the band set itself the target of ringing a local peal in celebration, and on 9th September the peal was rung, consisting of 3 ringers who had been taught in the 2 years in the tower. 30 years on in September 2009, 4 of that band, together with 2 other members of the present band, got together and rang another peal. It happened that one of the additional ringers rang his first peal 55 years before on the treble at Rayne. One of the first pealers from the 1979 peal conducted the recent peal.

By the late 1980’s there increasing concern about the “go” of the bells. Several of the elm headstocks were becoming soft in the dry weather, the bearings were wearing out, And there was increasing likelihood that one of the bells would fall from its support. A decision was made by the PCC that, if we could get enough finance together without affecting the general running of the main Church funds, the project to rehang the bells could go ahead.

Quotations were obtained and one accepted for about £14000, with allowances for any work we were able to do ourselves. This enabled us to have a target figure of about £10000.
The ringers had been saving their wedding fees and other donations, and had already got about £2000 together. An approach was made to the Essex Association of change Ringers, who have a fund for refurbishing bell installations, and they were able to make a grant of £2000 and also to find members with expertise to do some of the work. A company had a lorry which would be empty going or coming from Melbourne in Derbyshire and they were able to transport the bells for us. Accommodation for the specialist bellhanger was also supplied locally. Various fund raising event took place, including the removal of a large beard, and a dinner and auction of memorabilia from the old fittings, which was held at The Railway museum in Castle Hedingham.
The bells were re-dedicated at All Saints tide in November 1991. The first peal following the refit was on Sunday 30 November 1991, to mark the return of Terry Waite having been held hostage for a long time. The band included members of the EACR who had given help and support to the project.

The 100th peal on the bells was in October 1994, and was the first completely local peal of minor on the bells.