The bell ringers of St Mary's Church in Saffron Walden will celebrate the 400th anniversary of 'Great Ringing Day' on the weekend of June 10 and 11.

Great Ringing Day originated from a bequest by local mercer and benefactor Thomas Turner, who died in June 1623.

The story goes that Turner became lost while walking in the woods near Saffron Walden, but eventually managed to find his way home by following the sound of the church bells.

In gratitude, Turner left a legacy which provides 33s 4d to the ringers every year, which used to be enough money to feed about 20 ringers for a full day.


Great Ringing Day subsequently attracted ringers from other towns and villages in the region - peaking at more than 100 people. In the early 20th century ringing could go on from 9am to 9pm, with breaks for meals.

Rather than ringing the bells continuously, nowadays the ringers go on tour - and will spend Saturday ringing at towers along the route of the guided busway in Cambridgeshire.

On Sunday, June 11, there will be ringing at the church followed by choral evensong at 6.30pm, where Rev Jeremy Trew will preach a sermon on Great Ringing Day. Drinks and nibbles will be served after the service.