Millennium Chimes

St. Cadoc’s Millennium Chimes was formed in 1999 when a 2 octave set of handbells had been discovered in an old trunk whilst the church was being decorated for a flower festival.

It has since been discovered that these bells were produced by the William Dunn *Foundry of Kings Cross. London. No *date is recorded to indicate when the foundry started casting bells but they ceased casting in 1852. Elderly residents of Raglan who are now in their 90’s can remember playing these handbells in their youth; most significantly travelling around local farms at Christmas times, playing carols and drinking the cider offered by their hosts

The tradition of Handbell Ringing goes back many centuries. It was used by tower bellringers to practice in the warm rather than in an icy bell tower. It developed as change ringing – campanology, and tune ringing – tintinnabulation.

MILLENNIUM PROJECT

As a Millennium Project St. Cadoc’s Ladies’ Group decided to have the Handbells refurbished. One of the group members, Hal Poynton, transposed music to suit the range of bells, learning to ring the bells became very much a DIY Project. The first time the Handbell Group played in public was a notable occasion as it took place at the service of nine lessons and carols. There was a power cut and the group played by candlelight.  

The group’s second performance was to ring in the new millennium hence their chosen name ‘St Cadoc’s Millennium Chimes’.

The group continued to meet for practice and learnt a variety of pieces. In 2002 they were joined by Linda Lewis an experienced tower and handbell ringer who encouraged the group to play from musical notation. They joined the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain, HRGB, and started to attend rallies throughout the region, listening to and learning from other groups. St Cadoc’s Millennium Chimes now have a repertoire of traditional Welsh Tunes, Christmas Carols and specially arranged handbell music from HRGB, some of which can be quite challenging.

In 2004 with the help of a donation from The Beaufort Arms the group bought a two octave set of Belleplates for Raglan Primary School. In 2006 The Millennium Chimes felt that they needed a larger set of handbells to be able to play arrangements available from HRGB. After fundraising and a generous grant from the Arts Council of Wales they purchased a two octave chromatic set of handbells with inbuilt loud and soft adjustments. In 2008 an extra half octave was added by donations of bells from private individuals, local business D&M Watkins and Raglan Music Festival.

CURRENT ACTIVITIES

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We play to many and various groups, we have played for weddings – on one occasion the bride was late so we expanded our repertoire to cover the time waiting for her arrival! We have played for a funeral. The cousin of one of our ringers died after a long illness and she had enjoyed listening to tapes of handbell music. We considered it a privilege when we were asked to play at her funeral.

We regularly take part in the Victorian celebrations at Christmas in Usk, Cwmbran and Pontypool augmenting our handbells with ‘jingle chimes’ and recruiting children young and not so young to accompany us playing Jingle bells.

If you would like further information about our group, maybe book us for a fund-raising or social event, please contact Margaret Lawrence on 01291691279 or Jenny Swattridge on 01291690708