Bells@Leytonstone

Bellringing at St. John's Leytonstone

History

William Pye

Photograph of William Pye.

The first six bells were funded in the 19th century by William Davies and William Cotton, who were both local landowners.

There are differing accounts of which bells or how many were funded by which benefactor. Whites directory has it that all six of the original bells were donated by William Davis. There is not enough evidence to make a judgement either way, but what is certain is that, whether or not the Cotton family did donate the bells, William Cotton was heavily involved in fund raising for this church.

William Davis was very interested in education and in 1807 founded a free school at Gower's Walk, Whitechapel, " for training up children in the principles of the Christian religion, and in habits of useful industry." The combination of industry with general instruction was accomplished by the introduction of printing—an interesting employment.

Davies Lane is named after him, he was high sheriff of Leyton in 1831 and he lived at the Pastures, which is now the site of Pastures youth centre.
 
Each of the bells was dedicated to the lady members of the donor families. Dorothy, Agnes, Phoebe, Sarah, Eliza and Dorothy Anne.

One very famous celebrity among ringers, and someone who rang at this tower, is William Pye.  William was born in Pebmarsh, Essex in 1870. His brothers Ernest, Alfred and Robert were also notable ringers. William began ringing at the age of twelve in 1882 although he was already practicing on handbells. He has been described as the greatest exponent of the exercise ever. Indeed the band at Leytonstone was considered to be one of the best and most advanced in the country.

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