Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Richmond's Pancake Bell

Every Shrove Tuesday, the bell in Richmond's Trinity Church is rung, to remind people to use their eggs. Andy Macey, Richmond Town Council's Master-Sarjeant-at-Mace (or "general bottle washer", as he describes it), climbed the clock tower to ring the bell just before 11am, hitting the bell with a metal hammer for two minutes. He was very sensibly wearing ear defenders: a quick test without them showed just how loud the fairly large bell is: apparently the bell ringer in the 1980's went deaf, probably in no small part due to his duties.

While up there, Andy (a very knowledgeable historian) pointed out many interesting features, such as the Latin inscription on the bell, and the 14th Century gravestones used as lintels in one of the windows: it is probable that a graveyard once surrounded the church, where the market place is now. He also told of the theory that the bell ringer used to live in the tower, as evidence of a bedspace is up there: the Apprentice Bell, struck every morning at 8am, apparently had been rigged so that the ringer could ring it while still in bed.

Heading up through the hatch onto the lead roof, the day was sunny but brisk, and the view down into the market place was interesting to see, with Barry Heap on the obelisk performing his duties as Town Crier.