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Belfry News July 2017

A summer evening at Sempringham Abbey

Apologies to John Bennett for this very late addition. I'm afraid it ended up in my "Spam" box - Webmaster

Much has been written about this "site" but perhaps this word is appropriate as apart from St Andrews Church, itself isolated in a field, nothing remains of what was once a complex of buildings some 350 feet long. Founded by Gilbert, an Englishman in 1131 the abbey originally comprised a range of buildings against the north wall of the church. Here Gilbert took "seven maidens" as pupils who vowed to live a life of chastity, obedience and humility, difficult, I imagine, even in those days. The Abbey prospered, with the original buildings becoming inadequate and being replaced by the larger complex mentioned above where there were monks and nuns living separately. All ended on September 18th, 1538,when the Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII and purchased by the Clinton family who used the stones to build a mansion, of which all traces disappeared long ago.

St Andrews tower contains a ring of six light bells,four of these cast in the 1930's by Alfred Bowell of Ipswich. He does not possess a high reputation as a bellfounder,yet here his four bells plus the much older numbers five and tenor have resulted in a delightful combination that is a pleasure to ring. Added interest are narrow spiral stairs,awkward to climb, giving access to the ringing room with its candle chandelier and bracket gas lamp on the wall. ( the church has no electricity) A touch of femininity in this room, thought Tony-not a bad thing at all. Our bell ringers were there on the evening of July 11th, an enjoyable occasion which culminated in "a small libation" offered at the nearby Pointon hostelry . It was there, while contemplating the events of the evening, that my thoughts strayed to Gwenillian, the last Welsh Princess,who at 17 months old was sent to Sempringham by Edward 1st remaining there under house arrest until her death in 1337 at the age of 55 years. I hope she was happy as this place has for me an aura of warmth, a sort of unexplainable magnetism as if the spirits of those long gone monks and nuns still roam the fields-or perhaps that is merely my imagination, or is it?

John Bennett