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North Mymms Church - 140 Years of History

The Churchwardens’ Accounts of North Mymms
by H.M. Alderman

Chapter 1
Beer for the bell ringers

Beer for the bell ringers figures persistently through the accounts from 1763 to 1845, in which latter year there appears a pencil note, written, to judge by the vigour of the punctuation, under some stress of temper by the vicar, the Rev. T. H. Sotheby; it reads: "Ringers henceforth to be paid in money - not in beer. To be desired to be early in attendance and finish the nuisance outside the Church."

Bellringing as we now know it came in after the Reformation. In earlier days the bells that hung in the steeple were used in connection with the Divine Offices of Holy Church. The Edwardian Commission of 1553 reported five bells and the Sanctus bell in the steeple at North Myrnms

The first entry under this heading is for 1763. "Beer for the Ringers, Oak Apple Day 5s," this shews the allowance was a shillingsworth to each ringer and at the price of beer then ruling meant a very liberal allowance indeed; the number of "ringing days" each year varied, but for the fiscal year, 1774 - 75, seven "Ringing Days" are noted; they would include the King’s Birthday, Coronation Day, Oak Apple Day, Guy Fawkes Day, etc.; for the year 1848 and another year not stated there exists receipted accounts by Jas. Hutson giving in detail the amount due to him for providing the ringers’ beer. The amount had by this date risen to 6s due to the fact of an extra bell having been added in 1806.

The spelling is of the variety known as "go-as-you-please." Here it is:

For Ringin

May 24 - Queen’s Birthday £0 6s 0d
June 19 - Ascension £0 6s 0d
June 21 - Prockleymashion £0 6s 0d
June 28 - Crownenasion £0 6s 0d
Nov 5 ----- £0 6s 0d
Nov 9 - Prince Wales Burthday £0 6s 0d
Total = £1 16s 0d

"Settd. Jas. Hutson."

For the year 1763 the amount spent on beer was £1 12s 6d. In 1774 - 75 it was £1 15s. 0d. but in 1791, on April 27th we note "Richard Mason," he was Churchwarden, presented a "Bill for Beer for Ringing Days" £6 2s. 6d., whilst under date February 7th, 1807, appears this entry: "Chaffey - old bill for Beer (vestry order) £7 11s 7d."

But the foregoing entries fade into insignificance compared with an entry for the year 1835, "Paid Massey for Ringing Beer, £20 2s 0d."

Massey was landlord of "The Maypole" at Water End, and the only explanation possible for this large amount can be it covered the outlay for several years.

It is interesting to note the J. Hutson mentioned above was also the organist and in 1842 we find this entry: "J. Hutson fined £0 2s 6d for neglect in playing the organ." Query - was the belfry beer responsible for his lapse?

In 1763 the church was repaired and under date June 22nd we have "Workmen to drink at ye Church by Consent of vestry £0 1s 6d." Under one of the Acts of Parliament concerning Lord’s Day Observance the Churchwardens were (and perhaps still are) responsible for clearing the alehouses during the hours of public worship and there exists the following receipt:-

"Aug. 31. 1841. Received of Mr. Giddings Church Warden for North Mimms - the sum of one Pound for Clearing the Publick and Beer Houses on Sundays. "John Sleet."

It is difficult to credit at this distance of time John Sleet perambulating the parish twice each Sunday on such an unpleasant errand for a beggarly twenty shillings.

by H.M. Alderman

Chapter 2 - Church repairs 1763
Index - North Mymms Church 140 Years of History
Foreword - Why H.M. Alderman wrote the book

Editor's Note: The text has been left as it appeared in H.M Alderman's original work. For those too young to remember pounds, shillings and pence, the currency set out above as it was before we changed to a decimal system for currency in 1967. It works out as follows. £1 = 20 shillings (s) and 1 shilling = 12 pennies (d). So £1 10s 0d = £1.50 today and 1s = 5p.

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