|Treble||JohnTaylor & Co, Loughborough||1895||4 – 2 – 26|
|2||Hugh Watts, Leicester||Circa 1600||4 – 3 – 3|
|3||Thomas Newcombe, Leicester||1604||5 – 0 – 6|
|4||Hugh Watts, Leicester||Circa 1600||6 – 2 – 7|
|Tenor||JohnTaylor & Co, Loughborough||1895||8 – 0 – 23|
The bells were restored, augmented and rehung with new fittings in an iron and steel bellframe in 1895. The tenor bell was re-hung on ball bearings in 1989 and the fittings of the remaining four bells were refurbished and these bells re-hung on ball bearings during 2006.
Commemorative Half Muffled Quarter Peals
On 19th May 1915, George H Sharpe 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment lost his life aged 38. George was the first Hoby soldier to die as a result of the war and we will commemorate the centenary of his death with Evensong at 6pm, followed by a half muffled quarter peal rung in his honour. Half muffled quarter peals will be rung over the next three years to commemorate the centenary of the deaths of all eighteen men associated with Hoby.
You can hear some of George H Sharpe’s peal here.
A quarter peal consists of 1260 changes of non-stop ringing and usually takes about 45 minutes to complete. Quarter peals are usually rung to mark a significant event (rather than just ringing for a Sunday service where we tend to ring for 5-10 minutes at a time). It is one continuous ring instead of lots of short bursts. Quarter peals tend to be more challenging due to the length of time you are ringing and also the level of concentration required for all 5 ringers to ring specific bell methods from memory.
The bells will be rung “half muffled”. This is generally done for services such as funerals, memorial services and Remembrance Sunday. To ring half-muffled a thick leather or rubber pad is strapped to one side of each bell’s clapper. This deadens the sound of alternate strokes of the bells. The muffled stroke sounds like an echo of the first stroke.
The bell ringers will be from the Society of Framland Ringers.
Revd Canon Philip Norwood’s address at the Evensong Service
Readings: 1 Kings 8. 54 – 61 and 1 Peter 5. 6 – 11
We have been doing a lot of remembering of the past recently. In the last few weeks, it has been the 70th anniversary of VE Day – a time of rejoicing which quite a number of us still remember.
Over the past year, we have been remembering the outbreak of the First World War 100 years ago in 1914, something which none of us now remember personally, but an event in our history which has affected every part of our lives today.
And in the last few months, we here in Leicestershire have been remembering what happened in the Wars of the Roses 500 years ago, when King Richard was slain on the battle field at Bosworth and his body laid in a hastily prepared grave in a Friary in Leicester. The discovery of his body and the events of its reburial have touched us all locally in ways which I think has surprised us.
One thing that has most surprised us about the re-interment of Richard III has been the research carried out in our University. What a lot we have learned about DNA – even mitochondrial DNA! And how amazing that descendants of Richard were traced to Canada and Australia, to two people who had no idea whatever that they were related to each other, least of all that they both had a DNA profile that was virtually identical with that of Richard III. What an astonishing link between those three people was uncovered and revealed to a fascinated world!
But therein lies the point of all our commemorations: we are connected. We are not just isolated individuals: we share a history and a past, and we have a community to which we belong.
Today that is brought sharply into focus for us here in Hoby as we meet on the hundredth anniversary of the day on which George Henry Sharpe died in 1915. He died before any of us were born and we never knew him – though there may possibly some here today who might remember his parents at Sunnyside Cottage.
But whether we knew him or not, the point is that we are connected with him through our common history and all that this community experienced in the First World War.
In Westminster Abbey is the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. It has been there since 1920. In that year, a Padre from the Army wrote to the Dean of Westminster and suggested bringing the body of an unidentified British soldier back to London – one of the hundreds of thousands of unidentified bodies lying buried in France. The coffin was brought back to London and a state funeral was held on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1920. King George Vth was chief mourner. As the coffin was laid to rest in the Abbey, the grave was filled with bags of soil brought from all the countries where Allied troops had fought.
That unknown soldier could be a relation of mine – or of yours. My father could possibly have known him at school. He could have been a friend of your family. We shall never know, of course. But what we do know is that that grave connects us with a person who gave his life that we might enjoy freedom and peace today. “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus said, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15.12) Today we meet as ‘friends’ of George Sharpe in thankfulness and respect for what he did.
George was not mown down by a machine gun or blown to bits by an artillery shell, but he died because he was posted to France in 1914 where tuberculosis was rife and he contracted the disease which killed him 7 months later. He had a key job in the Army with horses. In 1901, fourteen years before he died, he had enlisted with the Leicestershire Regiment. He was posted to India in 1904 where he spent 5 years in the Mounted Infantry Corps. Back in Leicester, he was the groom responsible for the officers’ horses. Before the development of the internal combustion engine, horses were essential for transport and communications, and those who looked after the horses in the army were key people. George’s service was recognized when he was posthumously awarded three medals, so he must have been well respected by his officers and his Regiment.
So we remember him today on the 100th anniversary of his death. We remember him as the first of the 13 Hoby men to give their lives to preserve our country’s values and future. And in so doing, we acknowledge our connection with him.
But in doing that, we are surely acknowledging our responsibility to maintain the cause for which he gave everything – acknowledging our connection with everything he stood for.
The people of this parish would have heard the passages read from the Bible which we heard this evening. The lessons were chosen from a service used on 4th August, 1918, the 4th Anniversary of the Declaration of War.
In the first lesson, King Solomon is praying after he had dedicated the new Temple which he had built. He remembered God’s promises that had been fulfilled, God’s leadership and care for the people, and he dedicates the nation to be loyal to God and to keep his commandments, ordinances and statutes. He prays that the heart of the people will always be true to the law of God – a powerful message not only in Solomon’s day, but also in 1918 when people could see the havoc that was created when people flouted the law of God in bullying their neighbours instead of loving them.
And in the second reading, we heard a passage in which St. Peter rallied his hearers to cast all their fears and worries on God, but also to be always wary of rampant evil ( – and how rampant that evil most have felt in 1918). He called them to resist that evil, knowing that they were not alone in their fight. And he prays that the God of Grace, “who has called us to the eternal glory of faith, will Himself restore, establish and strengthen you” (1 Peter 5.10) – words of profound encouragement to people who had suffered and were still suffering so much.
I wonder if George Sharpe’s parents were present to hear those words? I wonder if those words of dedication and encouragement did anything to lessen their grief and sense of loss? Probably not. But I am sure that they could have been able to identify those beliefs, which spoke of loyalty and of the common fight against evil, with the loyalty which their son gave to the cause of serving his King and Country.
Let me finish by reminding you of that moving poem by a Canadian doctor, Major John McCrae, who had to bury a friend of his in 1915 because the Padre was on duty elsewhere. As he knelt by the grave, some words came to him which he wrote down – but later he threw the paper away. Someone else picked it up and had the poem printed in the magazine ‘Punch’ in London. The poem begins famously, “In Flanders fields, the poppies grow between the crosses, row on row”. And it ends with these words: “Take up our quarrel with the foe. To you from failing hands we throw the torch: be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders’ fields.”
As we remember the Great War, as we honour the memory of George Sharpe on this the 100th anniversary of his death, let us rekindle that sense of connection which we all share – connection not only with the individuals who fought and died, but also with the causes for which they gave everything. The loyalty and dedication which they showed is just as much needed today.
“If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders’ fields.”
Dates and Names for the Commemorative Half Muffled Quarter Peals
|Date of half muffled quarter peal||Name||Date of death|
|19th May 2015||Private George Henry Sharpe||19th May 1915|
|26th September 2015||Sergeant William Edward Eldred||26th September 1915|
|31st May 2016||Private Walter Pick||31st May 2016|
|5th June 2016||Brig. Gen. Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson||5th June 1916|
|8th June 2016||Private Alfred Higgins||8th June 1916|
|24th September 2016||Private Harry Jeffs||24th September 1916|
|23rd April 2017||Private John Edward Ward||23rd April 1917|
|14th May 2017||Private Arthur Felstead||14th May 1917|
|21st June 2017||Private William Harris||21st June 1917|
|9th October 2017||Major William Cecil Beresford||9th October 1917|
|26th October 2017||Lt. Col. Percy William Beresford D.S.O||26th October 1917|
|30th November 2017||Lance Corporal Charles Henry Read||30th November 1917|
|4th April 2018||Private Victor Albert Coleman||4th April 1918|
|5th May 2018||Rifleman Charles Edward Gamble||5th May 1918|
|1st September 2018||Private Sydney Graham||1st September 1918|
|14th September 2018||Major Arthur Jardine Beresford-Havelock||14th September 1918|
|3rd October 2018||Second Lieut John Charles Wheatley||3rd October 1918|
|19th October 2018||Private William Henry Crane||19th October 1918|
The book will be back at St. Paul’s Cathedral shortly and appears on the CCCBR Roll of Honour website.