by Ann Desics Jun. 2013
There are two wooden peal boards hung side by side on the ringing room wall but with 100 years between them. The oldest one includes the first peal rung on the newly recast bells on Thursday 6th June 1895, plus two further peals rung in 1896.
The old five bells had been taken out in 1894 by John Taylor’s Foundry, Loughborough and melted down, with extra metal added to make six bells. Some of the congregation and church wardens of St. Peter’s went to watch the casting of the bells at the foundry. They were dedicated on 31st January 1895 by Revd. W.W.C. Baker (later Canon) who was an adept bellringer and, along with three other ringers, he had founded the Bedfordshire Association of Change Ringers in March 1882. He had been Association Secretary until April 1911 when he became president until his death in 1930. Isaac Hills, one of the ringers in the first peal, was also one of the four founder members. Charles W. Clarke, the first peal’s conductor, joined soon afterwards in 1883 and he had been well known for his great skill and enthusiasm in teaching many towers bands to ring bells from scratch, as he probably did at St. Peter’s. All our St. Peters ringers today are members of the Association.
In 1994 six of us decided to ring a full peal to celebrate the silver wedding anniversaries of two pairs of our ringers in that year. When peals are rung in any church, anywhere, they are officially registered and kept on file. These days, details of all peals are available on the Internet. It was while doing this that Richard discovered that our peal was the 97th rung at St. Peters. A band of visitors rang a peal shortly afterwards, so making it 98.