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Music, choir and bellringing

Music plays a central role at Christ Church and is an important part of our worship.

Church choir

Christ Church Choir
Christ Church Choir

Christ Church Choir, conducted by the Director of Music Oliver Chesser, is an octet of professional singers which sings most Sunday mornings.

The choir sings from a broad repertoire encompassing Renaissance, Classical and French Romantic masses, to contemporary works, regularly commissioned by Christ Church.

The Director of Music is always interested to hear from singers wishing to audition for our dep list.

School choir

The school choir, consisting of pupils from Christ Church Primary school, is directed by the Head of Music Nick Pegden.
The school choir sings regularly in church and for special occasions.

Bellringing

Bell ringing at Christ Church Hampstead
Bellringing December 2017

In March 1852, the finishing touches were made to the spire of architect Samuel W. Daukes' Christ Church and the second highest London spire was given a voice with the installation of church bells.

Following five years of planning and a highly original and creative fundraising campaign, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry was commissioned in September 2000 to make necessary replacements and cast a full set of new bells. A peal of eight bells were hung in the tower in September 2005. Four were newly cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry; the other four bells were purchased from St Luke’s in Cowley, Oxfordshire, and were a lucky find, having been cast by the renowned firm of Gillett and Johnston of Croydon. The bells were expertly hung in a new cast iron and steel frame by Matthew Higby & Company, Church Bell Engineers.

An active group of bell ringers ring the bells every week, twice on Sundays at 10.15-11am and 5.30-6.30pm and on one weekday evening, as well as for special occasions, weddings and the like. The joy of handling a heavy church bell and the wonderful sound of a properly orchestrated bell ringing session is something that one can only really experience by doing.

Everyone is welcome to join our group of active bell ringers and expert tuition is available to learn the ropes of the wonderful and traditional art of bell ringing. Please refer to the Master of the Tower to get in touch with our bell ringing team. It takes around 8 to 10 one-hour lessons to learn the basic skill of handling a bell.

Christ Church bells are noted for their very mellow tone, and have rung out to celebrate many a civic and church occasion whether local or national.  They were also featured in a BBC4 documentary in 2009, Gladstone & Disraeli – Clash of the Titans.

The bells and tower are affiliated to the Middlesex County Association and London Diocesan Guild of Ringers.

Church bells

Below is a list of the church bells with details, donors and inscriptions.

Bell: Treble
Foundry: Gillett & Johnston, 1938
Note: E flat
Weight: 6cwt 1lbs
Inscription: In loving memory of Marjorie Flagg, 26th Aug 1932 – 2nd Dec 1999. Donated by Bishop Bill Flagg.

Bell: Second
Foundry: Whitechapel Bell Foundry, 2005
Note: D
Weight: 6cwt 3qrs 2lbs
Inscription: Susannae Elizabethae Staines natae Fletcher 1947-1994 carissimae Jane Guardiana huius ecclesiae DD soror sorori. Gaude cum angelis.
This bell was given by churchwarden Jane Cox in memory of her sister.

Bell: Third
Foundry: Gillett & Johnston 1938
Note: C
Weight: 7cwt 26lbs
Inscription: Donated by Paul Evans and Roz Evans-Flagg, Heath Lodge, Hampstead 2004

Bell: Fourth
Foundry: Whitechapel Bell Foundry 2004
Note: B flat
Weight: 8cwt 4lbs
Inscription: Donated by Jill Purce & Rupert Sheldrake. To sing a note for the resonance of Hampstead. In memory of James & Eleanor Purce, Reginald & Donald Sheldrake & their ancestors.

Bell: Fifth
Foundry: Gillett & Johnston 1938
Note: A flat
Weight: 10cwt 2qrs 12lbs
Inscription: Donated by Charlie Evans-Flagg of Heath Lodge, Hampstead 2004.

Bell: Sixth
Foundry: Whitechapel 2005
Note: G
Weight: 12cwt 1 qr 26lbs
Inscription: John (Jock) Murray, 1909-1993. John Betjeman’s lifelong friend and publisher. This bell was given by the Murray family.

Bell: Seventh
Foundry: Whitechapel 2005
Note: F
Weight: 17cwt 8lbs
Inscription: St Endellion, The Betjeman Bell, 2004. Michael Royalton-Kisch. Long run the thunder/Of the bells through all. This bell was given by churchwarden Michael Royalton-Kisch and George Adams.

Bell: Tenor
Foundry: Gillett & Johnston 1938
Note: E flat
Weight: 24cwt 5lbs
Inscription: Donated by India Evans of Heath Lodge, Hampstead 2004. May every tongue beneath the sky/Send forth so sweet a song as I/And praise the Lord continually.