St Leonard's Shoreditch
Much of the Society's early bell-ringing was carried out at St Leonard's Shoreditch, London and it was the Society's headquarters for many years. The first peal for the Society was rung at Shoreditch on Saturday November 19th 1748 – a peal of 5040 Bob Major.
Shortly before the Society was formed, the church had been rebuilt and a peal of 8 bells, cast by Thomas Lester of Whitechapel, installed. In 1765 two more bells were added and in 1807, the Cumberlands added a further two trebles to make a ring of 12. It is recorded in the "History of Shoreditch Church", published around 1914, that "it...was necessary for the Society to collect two lots of money; the treasurer having absconded with the first subscriptions".
The bells required some work by the turn of the 20th century and on Saturday November 8th 1913, the newly tuned bells rang out for the first time in 20 years. According to contemporary accounts, between 300 and 400 ringers attended the event.
By 1967 it became apparent that further work was badly needed and a major restoration was carried out by John Taylor and Company of Loughborough. At the same time a generous gift from the Drapers' Company provided a sharp second, giving a light eight with a tenor of 10 cwt.
Early in the 1980s a crack appeared in the 10th bell. Welding proved successful; but by 1990 another crack had appeared in a different place, and it was realised that recasting was the only solution. After much consideration a complete recasting by John Taylor and Company was decided upon, providing the bells that we currently ring on today.
Work at Shoreditch has continued over the past few years. The tonal quality of the bells is unarguably excellent, however some work is required to fully appreciate the sound from within the ringing room. A working party is currently investigating the options for improving the acoustics, having already completed phase 1 of the project to improve the ringing circle and address some of the odd-struckness.
119 Shoreditch High Street,
Greater London, E1 6JN