Keeping a Family Tradition Going

Monica Hollows

The following is written by Monica Hollows, who is learning to ring with her children Esme and Ellis for the Ringing Remembers campaign.  Read more learner’s stories here.

We are learning to ring at St Anne’s Parish Church, in St Annes on Sea, which is part of the Fylde Branch of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers. Inspired to take up ringing thanks to the Ringing Remembers campaign, we started learning in November 2017 with the help of teachers Stuart Newton, Stacey Ashfield and James Wormleighton. We have recently completed Learning the Ropes Level 1 and are now working towards earning their Level 2 award.

Monica, Esme and Ellis with ringing teachers Stuart Newton, Stacey Ashfield and James Wormleighton

We are all thoroughly enjoying learning to ring and are already completely hooked! Esme (12 years old) thinks it’s a really unusual hobby and great fun. Ellis (10 years old) says it is fascinating to learn how the bells work and as a keen mathematician he loves the patterns involved in ringing. I wish I had learnt years ago and am very keen to make up for lost time! It is wonderful how the activity brings together people from all different ages and walks of life to work together as a team.

Below is a picture of Ellis having a go at ringing the 16cwt (834kg) tenor bell at St Annes, as you can see he needed quite a few boxes be able to reach it! Ellis thought it was amazing and “really cool” that he could control what is effectively the weight of a small car swinging around above his head just by pulling on a rope. The picture beneath this shows Esme and Ellis working hard to perfect the technique of ringing a bell up, which is harder than it looks!

Ellis Hollows having a go at ringing the tenor bell.

So what inspired us to sign up for the Ringing Remembers campaign? Through an old primary school friend I found out that peals were rung at St Mary’s Church in Cuckney, Notts to mark the centenary of the deaths during WWI of my great uncles William Henry and John Joseph Hakes, who were both keen bell ringers. It meant a lot to the surviving family members that they were remembered in that way. St Mary’s no longer has a regular band of ringers, so the peals were rung by a visiting band from the Southwell and Nottingham Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers. More information about the peals can be found on Bellboard:

We live in St Annes on Sea in Lancashire and since August 2014, our Church (St Anne) has been ringing quarter peals to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of 182 residents of St Annes who were killed in World War One and also arranges an annual grave trail in the churchyard of all the graves for the residents who died serving their country during World War One and World War Two. As of March 2018, 35 quarter peals have rung and another 17 are planned, finishing in December 2020. Details of the quarter peals rung so far can also be found on Bellboard:

Esme and Ellis ringing a bell up.

In November 2016, the ringers were pleased to be nominated for an award in the Daily Telegraph sponsored “Remembering WW1” Acts of Remembrance category. From over 160 nominations across the country in six different categories, the ringers were honoured to be one of four selected in their category for the final, ultimately receiving a “runners up” certificate.

The family have been so inspired by what the towers at St Mary’s and St Anne’s churches have been doing to remember the fallen, that we decided we should learn to ring to honour the memory of William and John Hakes. The Ringing Remembers campaign provided the perfect opportunity.

John Joseph Hakes was killed in World War One aged just 19 years old. He was born in Cuckney in March 1898. He was one of 9 children of John Joseph Hakes Senior and Mary Hakes. John Hakes Senior ran a butcher’s shop in Cuckney. John learnt to ring at St Mary’s Church and was a member of the North Nottinghamshire Association. John served with 2/8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys) Regiment. From the war records we believe he probably died near Caubrieres Wood in the battle for Le Verguier ridge on 7th April 1917. Due to a breakdown in communication 2/8th were left in an isolated position close to enemy lines and as a result 7 officers and 110 other ranks were killed/wounded on that day. John is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

William Henry Hakes was 22 years old when he was killed. He served in the 1st Battallion South Staffordshire Regiment. William was born in Cuckney in September 1895 and like his siblings attended Cuckney Primary School. William also learnt to ring at St Mary’s Church and was a member of the North Nottinghamshire Association. We believe William was seriously wounded or killed during the attack on Polygon Wood on the 4th October. Three officers and 36 other ranks were killed, 7 officers and 223 other ranks were wounded and 40 other ranks were missing after the attack according to the War Diary. His grave stone at Cuckney Church gives his date of death as 4th October, whereas the CWGC records say it was the 6th October 1917. William is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

The photo below is the only known surviving of John and William, together with their mother Mary, father John and siblings Mary, Sarah, Frank, Alfred, Eva and Ruth. (Their other sibling Louie died as a child). John and William are the two young boys sat on the ground, William on the right and John on the left. John Joseph Hakes Senior and his four sons were all bell ringers. The boy on the right is my Grandfather Alfred.

Hakes family

Bell ringing is a Hakes family tradition. As well as John Joseph Hakes Senior and his four sons, my father Cyril and his four brothers were also ringers at St Mary’s. Myself, Esme and Ellis are very proud to be adding a fourth and fifth generation to the family history of bell ringing! We are all looking forward to taking part in the ringing in November 2018 to mark the centenary of the Armistice and can think of no better way to remember the sacrifice of John and William and all those who gave their lives in World War One by carrying on the  family tradition our ancestors were so passionate about.

The Ringing Remembers campaign is recruiting 1,400 new bell ringers in memory of the 1,400 who lost their lives in World War One. All new recruits will have once in a life time opportunity to ring on Armistice Day (11 November) this year to mark 100 years since the end of the war. Find out more about the campaign and signup by clicking here.

28 March 2018