Celebrating Fordham augmentation

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the augmentation of Fordham's bells

This year is the 25th anniversary of the installation of two additional bells in the tower of St Peter & St Mary Magdalene, Fordham, which transformed the old ring of six bells dating back to 1638 into an excellent octave, rung regularly ever since for services, weddings, funerals and other special occasions. Originally dedicated by the Bishop of Huntingdon at a special service in 1988, the bells were celebrated again in another service on Sunday 7 July followed by a programme of bell-related entertainment and refreshments.

On 7th July 2013, Fordham’s “Celebration of Bells” began with a short act of worship led by Revd Rebecca Gilbert, after which the theme continued with change-ringing from the Fordham Handbell Ringers led by Roger and Rosemary Palmer and the performance of musical pieces by children of the 1st Little Thetford Brigade handbell group under the direction of Jane Dunseath. Refreshments were served and, of course, the bells that are the focus of the evening’s celebration were expertly rung by Roger and his team before and after the proceedings.

The augmentation of the ring in 1988 is especially remembered in Fordham because the two new bells were given by prominent village families: the treble bell being the gift of the Turner family of Bassingbourn Farm and the second given in memory of Phyllis H Smith of Fordham Abbey. Both bells were cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London with inscriptions recording these generous donations. The event is also significant because almost all the engineering planning, structural work and installation of the new frame and bells was carried out by the ringers themselves including Roger Palmer, Chris Bell, Mervyn Brown and Barry Bass of Ely. Roger, his wife Rosemary, and Chris still ring the bells to this day.

Fordham's new treble bell (front) being cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Roger Palmer temporarily removes one of Fordham's existing bells

Roger Palmer oversees installation of Fordham's two new bells in the tower

The Fordham ringers practice every Thursday from 7.30 to 9.00pm and newcomers of all ages from 8 to 80, whether novice or returning experienced ringer, are always most welcome. Expert but patient tuition and guidance is always on hand.