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Leighton (Tre’llai) is a small village near Welshpool in Montgomeryshire. It is set around the Leighton Farm Estate which is the best example of a Victorian model farm in Wales.

Church Bells at Holy Trinity

Bell-ringers at Leighton were originally paid £6 per annum for announcing the imminence of services at Holy Trinity Church. John Naylor, who built the Hall, farms and church, paid the ringers for their services and when he died his family continued with these payments until 1950. That’s 95 years without a rise! There are six bells within the tower, manufactured by John Taylor of Loughborough, and each is inscribed:

  • Treble – God Bless The Queen
  • 2nd – God Bless The Church
  • 3rd – God Bless The State
  • 4th – God Bless The Rich
  • 5th -God Bless The Poor
  • Tenor – God Bless Us All
Leighton is fortunate that apart from a few war years, when bells were not to be rung except as a warning of an invasion, the village has always had an enthusiastic team of ringers to carry on this traditional call to worship. A list of ringers from 1855 to 1999 has 68 names on it and many surnames are repeated as fathers and sons (and more latterly, daughters!) followed each other into the belfry.
The bells and more especially their ropes, need to be maintained regularly and the bells were re-hung and re-dedicated in 1997 . The picture here is of number 3 bell in the raised position ie., ready to be rung. Dorothy L Sayers, in her novel “The Nine Tailors” states,
“From time to time complaints are made about the ringing of Church bells. It seems strange that a generation which tolerates the uproar of the internal combustion engine and the wailing of the jazz band, should be so sensitive to the one loved noise that is made to the “Glory of God”. Britain alone in the World has perfected the art of change ringing, and the true ringing of bells by rope and wheel will not lightly surrender her unique heritage.”
I am not aware of any complaints about Holy Trinity’s bells but it should be noted that in 1899 six shillings were spent on muffles for them!
Some villagers continue the tradition of entering the bell tower before midnight on 31st December to hear the sad, muffled bells ring out the old year and the un-muffled, joyful welcome to the new year. The event is rounded off with suitable nibbles and drinks before the ringers and their visitors make their way home.
In bygone days the ringers were often paid in beer and the cask would be up in the belfry. However, their frequent drunken state led some churches to remove the floor of the bell-tower so that ringers stand in the body of the church, where they can be seen. Leighton still has its floor and the ringers are hidden from view but no-one could possibly manoeuvre a beer barrel up the narrow, winding staircase to the belfry! Occasionally, the bells are heard when there are no services and this is often when visiting teams come to Leighton to ring. Groups have come from around the country to enjoy our bells. Long may it be so.

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