All Saints is lucky enough to have two sets of handbells. One is a fully chromatic set on which you can perform all kinds of music, and one replicates the church bells. The bells are well used.
Handbells were first used in the 16th and 17th centuries by tower bell ringers who found it more agreeable on winter nights to sit in the comfort of the local inn, practising their changes on small bells, than to spend hours up in the cold belfry swinging the big bells on ropes. These days handbells are used to ring tunes.
Little is known of the history of All Saints’ handbells, other than an archive photograph of six ringers, each with two bells, outside the church porch:-
The date of this picture is not known but their headgear suggests the 1920s or thereabouts. The former Tower Captain, Mrs Margaret Parker, advised that there were fifteen handbells hanging in the belfry in the 1950s when she first became a tower bell ringer.
The team called “Nettleham All Saints Handbell Ringers” was formed in 1992 and Revd Richard Emerson was appointed as the first leader. Refurbishment of the bells was undertaken by team member Tony Gledhill, with guidance from Mr Vaughan Evans of St Wulfram’s, Grantham. Spare parts were procured from the manufacturer, John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd of Loughborough.
In May 1993 the team was registered as a member of Handbell Ringers of Great Britain. By fund-raising efforts and donations, largely from the ringers themselves, the number of bells has been increased to thirty, with a range of 2.5 chromatic octaves. In 2014 the bells were sent to John Taylor & Co for retuning and refurbishment. Thus, they are in good order and are an asset to the church.
The ringers meet in the parish centre on alternate Monday evenings at 7-30pm for leisure-time rehearsals. The music scheme used is “Playing from Numbers”, so it is not necessary to be able to read music.
If interested in ringing handbells, please contact the Group Leader Tony Gledhill or our Parish Administrator.