ST MARY’s church bells will play their part in this centenary commemoration of Remembrance on November 11.

Before the church service at 10:00am the tenor bell will be tolled solemnly 100 times, once for each year since the Armistice in 1918. Church bells have been tolled through the centuries to call the town to mourn the death of one of their number. The tolling of the bell on November 11 will summon all who hear to mourn the great loss of life in the First World War and in the wars of the last 100 years. We shall remember the 215 named on the First World War Cenotaph and the 16 additional names which will be added on a separate memorial, but also the 62 named on the World War Two memorial and other members of our armed services killed in conflicts in the years since.

Following the church service, which is to be attended by the Mayor of Test Valley and his civic party, the town commemoration at the Cenotaph Garden of Remembrance with the Royal British Legion and local military representatives and voluntary groups begins at 10:45am and includes the two-minute silence. All are very welcome at both services.

At noon St Mary’s bell ringers will join the national Ringing Remembers. On Monday, 11 November 1918, soon after the news of the Armistice reached the town at 11:30am, the bells of St Mary’s ‘rang out merry peals’. The sound of the bells was an outpouring of relief that four years of war had come to an end. Our present bell ringers will honour that significant moment by ringing out joyfully over the town. Depending on the wind direction at that time, the bells may be heard miles away.

Ringing Remembers is a national campaign recalling the 1,400 bell ringers who died in the war, which aims to recruit 1,400 new bell ringers around the country. More bell ringers are warmly welcomed to St Mary’s team. If you might be interested to learn this ancient art, which is both socially enriching and serves the community, and would like a preliminary chat, then contact Michael Bull on 01264 323442, Barbara Long on 01264 354731 or via St Mary’s Church Office on 01264 366373.