I have spent this morning at the Island Archive building at Newport delving through 250 years of Island bell ringing history with the tomes of William Rayner, very odd to think I may be the first to have looked at some of these pages in 200 years! His records go back to 1771 so history just oozes from the pages.

Just look at the writing and how beautifully it is done, better than my handwriting that’s for sure! Lot’s of information to see and so interesting when taken in context with the time.

These are available for anyone to have a look at now they have been dusted off and the absolutely brilliant staff now know what they are.

The history of these volumes is remarkable in the fact that they were discovered on the mainland in 1921 by Lady Hampshire after the death of her husband who apparently had acquired them in a box of books at a second-hand shop somewhere and at some time during his life and it was only by luck she had contacted Newport bell ringers to ask if they would like them returned. There is a letter amongst the books to confirm this.

History is brilliant isn’t it! As Island Peal Recorder I now have a lot more work to do in collating all this information

From the volumes of William Rayner's records
From the volumes of William Rayner’s records


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