The bells ring again

The bells of Holy Trinity have sounded their inspirational peal over many decades, marking a myriad of events. They fell silent with the church's enforced closure in October, 2007, although there was a recent happier note when they were again allowed to be rung for Hobart's annual Regatta Day in February, which they had signalled through the years. And there is the likelihood their ringing will be permitted again for other occasions with the church's future remaining undecided.

One day of particular importance in the story of the bells was on a Sunday, December 27, in 1987. For that day saw a very special service of thanksgiving at the church for the restoration and rehanging of the bells in their tower. It was a joyous return, for they had been silent for a long time. This was how the Church News (price 10c) recorded the occasion under the heading: "Welcome home Holy Trinity Bells":

The church was packed with people for whom these eight bells held many memories. There was not an empty seat visible and the gallery was full, as we all joined together in a very special service during which the Rt Revd Philip K. Newell rededicated the bells, and they were rung for the first tune since 1975. The beautiful sounds of the Rosny Children's Choir also rang through the church and the congregation raised their voices for the final hymn and in the words of the Rev John Barnes invited the bells to, "Ring out glad bells, arouse our hearts, shame our indifference and strife . . . call us with loud resounding voice into that light which never dims".

The eight bells of Holy Trinity Church, North Hobart, are the oldest extant peal of bells in the Southern Hemsiphere and were first heard by the people of Hobart on Dec 1, 1847. They were rung for the 10th Royal Hobart Regatta, and a tradition followed that the bells were rung on every Regatta day until they were unringable in 1975. The tradition will be re-established this year when a full peal will ring for two hours on Regatta day 1988, for the Bicentenary and the 150th Anniversary of the Regatta Association.

Over two hundred people joined together after the service for a special afternoon tea in the Parish Hall, which had been decked for the occasion with lovely flower arrangements and large drawings of the bells. The Bishop's wife was given the awesome task of cutting a magnificent bell-shaped cake, made by a member of the church's congregation and decorated by Mr K. Owens of Geilston Bay.

The conversation drifted back over the years through memories associated with Holy Trinity. Many guests had been christened and married there and others boasted relatives with an even closer connection with the bells. Mrs Fulton, the great grand-daughter of John Wright, a local craftsman who had constructed the original wooden frame in which the bells were housed, proudly remembered his achievement, and several enthusiastic campanologists celebrated the fact that once more they would be able to ring those famous bells, that they might, "call us with loud resounding voice into that light which never dims, wherein the Holy Ones rejoice" - Rev John Barnes.

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