There are records of a church having been here since 1180 on land granted by the founder of the city of PORTSMOUTH – Jean de Gisons, a wealthy Norman merchant. In 1194 King Richard I seized the city from de Gisons and claimed Portsmouth for the Crown acknowledging its strategic importance to the nation. It was here in 1591 that Queen Elizabeth I worshipped while on a journey through the area. In 1642 the building was bombarded by the Parliamentary army during the Civil War and through taxes imposed on other churches Charles II raised funds for its restoration. The present building became a Cathedral dedicated to St.Thomas in 1932 and continues its connection to Royalty and The Royal Navy. For years it had a ring of just 10 bells and happily for its enthusiastic ringers it has been promoted to magnificent 12 that will ring out across the seas to celebrate ST.GEORGE.
Easton in Gordano in northern Somerset is a village originally known as Enstone and then for centuries ST. GEORGE so the links with England’s saint go back in history. Indeed today their thriving football club is also called St.George whose playing fields lie beside the church which is dedicated to ST.GEORGE and mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1085. This important building is designated Grade II listed by English Heritage and its bell ringers will be trying for a PEAL so all bodes well within this community for a spectacular April 23rd.
The city of DERBY lies on the banks of the River Derwent. Its original church was said to have been founded by King Edmund 1 around 943AD. In the 14C it was replaced by a more substantial building but this too suffered from damage and was eventually pulled down. What exists today is the later structure built in 1785 but incorporating the original Tower of the 1530s. It is dedicated to All Saints and has 10 very special bells. It is claimed they are THE OLDEST RING OF 10 BELLS IN THE WORLD. The largest weighs 19cwt and is nearly 500 years old! And these magnificent bells will be ringing out across the land to remind everyone that April 23rd is ST.GEORGE’S day.
The village of MOSSLEY might be part of Greater Manchester but it is also at the convergence of three counties: Lancashire, Cheshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. It will be here, on April 23rd, that these happy counties will hear the 8 bells of ST.GEORGE ring out loudly to celebrate England’s Day.
There are more of our lovely churches across the West Country organizing their towers to join in the ringing on April 23rd for St. George. Already signed up are the Church of the Holy Cross in Cruwys Morchard which has 6 bells, also St. Peter’s with its 6 bells in Shirwell shown above. There will be more happy news to follow.
The first building on the site was a monastery started by King Paeda of Mercia in 655AD in what was called Medeshamstede. It grew into what has become Peterborough but the building was still a monastery at the time Katherine of Aragon was buried there after her death in 1539. As if through a sense of guilt King Henry declared it a Cathedral 1541 as a memorial to his first wife but it was later sacked by Oliver Cromwell in 1643. Fortunately the fabric of this most unusual of cathedral buildings remained intact and its 13 magnificent bells are housed in the North West tower where they will ring out across the fens to celebrate St. George.