SPECIAL: A memorable afternoon at St Paul's Anglican Chruch belltower as bellringers pealed to commemorate the passing of Maria Aldridge in 1886.
SPECIAL: A memorable afternoon at St Paul's Anglican Chruch belltower as bellringers pealed to commemorate the passing of Maria Aldridge in 1886. contributed

Bells peal to honour pioneer and aristocrat

FIVE bell ringers at St Paul's Maryborough pealed its bells half-muffled for an hour last Sunday to commemorate Maria Aldridge's death on March 17, 1886.

This tradition has continued since the bells were erected in Maria's memory by her husband and local wealthy businessman Edgar Aldridge in 1887.

Edgar in turn passed away only weeks after the bells were commissioned in 1888.

The nine bells cast by Mears Whitechapel Bell Founders of London, cost £3500 and these bells were believed to be the only full peal of bells capable of full circle ringing in Queensland until 1988.

Of the nine bells, the smallest or treble bell weighs 250kg and the largest or tenor bell weighs 907kg.

In 2012 the bells were craned out of the tower for refurbishment at Whitechapel bell foundry in London where they were first cast.

Half-muffled bells symbolising mourning is a very old English custom.

A leather muffle is placed on one side only of the clapper of each bell so that there is a loud open strike followed by a muffled strike.

Full muffling is reserved for royalty.

One notable exception occurred when a three hour full muffled peal of Grandsire Triples (5040 Changes) was rung on the Dover parish church bells by returned soldiers as the remains of executed British nurse Edith Cavell were repatriated to England in 1919.

The tenor bell on that occasion was only half muffled to toll a clear deep mourning.

Nowadays, St Paul's Maryborough bell ringers also ring half-muffled for Anzac Day every year and when requested for local funerals.

St Paul's is again offering the public the opportunity to chime these historic bells on the two Thursdays of the Easter school holidays.

This is a fun activity for adults and kids alike and funds raised will help the church finance sound control for the bells.

Phone tower captain Ruth Anderson on 0407 687 830 to enquiries or book a time.