St Andrew’s has six bells, a number of experienced ringers, and an active programme to train new ringers to all levels. Rehearsals take place on Thursday evenings from 7.30 to 9.00 pm. Successful learning requires a reasonable level of regularity and commitment.
The bells are rung every Sunday for the 10 am service and at Festivals (e,g, on Christmas Eve and Ascension Day). In addition, outside these times we have visits from other tower groups and our own band occasionally ring a quarter peal (about 45 minutes) or a full peal (about 3 hours) to celebrate a special occasion such as the 60th anniversary of the coronation. The ringers always seek permission from the vicar for these special occasions. We are aware that while most people love to hear the bells, some of our neighbours find them intrusive and so we ensure that these extra occasions do not happen over-frequently – in particular, ringing a full peal is very rare. If you would like to be alerted when such special occasions are coming up then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will ensure you are put on the distribution list.
The church clock, including its chiming mechanism, was installed in 1921 – a gift to the local community by Mrs Wragg Gurney, then the owner of Chesterton Hall. Since then the quarter hours have been marked by what is usually called the ‘Westminster Chimes’, though these in fact originated very close to Chesterton, at Great St Mary’s in the city centre.
Chimes during the night
The building of large areas of new residential accommodation near to the church has from time to time led to requests from new residents that the chimes be silenced at night. The church has engaged in a series of local consultations about this dating back to 2003. The church council has in principle been willing to consider the installation of a mechanism to turn off at least the chimes (if not the ‘bongs’ on the hour) at night, but there has been considerable opposition to this from locals who find comfort in the night-time chimes. The issue re-emerges from time to time when either a new wave of residents move in or when the clock has been out of action (either when it was damaged by lightning or – as in early 2013 – when there were serious mechanical problems that took many visits from the clockmakers to repair).
The PCC (church council) last discussed the issue in 2010. Having taken some intiital soundings, it decided in principle that it would support the silencing of the chimes at night, subject to consultation at a second public meeting. But the mood there was very much against any change; the PCC concluded that there was still no public consensus for what was proposed.
The issue is not closed and residents are welcome to send their comments to the PCC (via email@example.com) but are advised that any re-opening of the matter would need more than a handful of residents to complain individually. The vicar and others have given considerable time to this in the past and it has come to nothing; it will need those advocating change to consult together and mobilise opinion in their favour for the PCC to engage in yet more consultation.