THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of April 1886
Bells peal once more at historic Co Down church
The fine peal of bells in Hillsborough Parish Church had been re-opened the previous Sunday by eight members of St Thomas Society of Bellringers, under the conductorship of Mr E D Hill.
The members of the Society had been accompanied by the veteran ringer, Mr James Henderson, who had rung his first peal in the belfry on the occasion of the coronation of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria in 1838, and who on that Sunday “rang treble in a forty minutes’ peal”.
Peals were rung before and after the morning service, and also for evening service, “the striking being very clear.”
It was reported that the bells, which were eight in number, had been incomplete for the last twelve years, “the fifth bell having cracked while being tolled in 1874 on the occasion of the death of the fifth Marquis of Downshire”.
During the previous autumn a third bell had cracked “in an unaccountable manner”.
Through the kindness of the trustees of the Marquis of Downshire, “and at their own expense”, these two bells had been taken down in November 1885 and sent to Messrs J Warner and Sons, London, by whom they were re-cast.
The bells had been originally cast in Gloucester in 1772 by Thomas Rudhall. They had been cast in the key of E major. The tenor bell, which had on it the letter H surmounted by a coronet and the year 1772, weighed almost 20 cwt.
The News Letter further noted of the bells: “In addition to the necessary appliances for manual ringing, the bells are fitted with a chiming machine, which will strike the quarters, and at the hours of twelve, four, and eight plays a tune, the tunes being ‘Rousseau’s Dream’, an old psalm tune, and the third is supposed to be ‘The Downshire Quickstep’.”
The News Letter also noted that it was “the second fine old ring of bells” which had been “put in order” in the past few months.
The bells of Armagh Cathedral had also recently been rehung.
The correspondent concluded: “It will be gratifying to lovers of bell music to hear of the improvements which have been effected at Hillsborough Parish Church.”