Wigan church bells to ring 5,000 times to mark centenary of peace treaty

The bell ringers at St Wilfrid's
The bell ringers at St Wilfrid's

The bells at a Wigan church will ring more than 5,000 times to commemorate a century since the Treaty of Versailles signing - an exact recreation of the way the church celebrated 100 years ago.

The bells at St Wilfrid’s in Standish will ring for more than three hours on June 28, 100 years to the day since the peace treaty that officially ended the First World War was signed.

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In 1919, the bell ringers at the church in Rectory Lane celebrated by ringing a peal of Grandsire Triples to commemorate the occasion.

And at 6pm on Friday, exactly a century on from the celebration, the ringers at Standish intend to recreate the same peal, which will take three hours and consists of 5,040 changes.

Chris Barr, a member of the St Wilfrid’s bell ringers, said: “It’s great to be able to be involved with such a poignant event - the fact that a peal was rung at Standish to celebrate the signing of the treaty shows how important it was at the time, and I think it’s important that we continue to commemorate and remember these events.

“To have the opportunity to recreate the celebration that happened in that exact spot, 100 years on, is extremely humbling and is a testament to those who fought in both World Wars.”

The bell ringing will also honour First World War veteran William Henry Johnson, a recipient of the Victoria Cross and the only recognised bell ringer to be awarded the honour.

William was a keen bell ringer at Workshop Priory Church before enlisting in the Sherwood Foresters in February 1916.

He was serving as a sergeant in the Nottinghamshire Regiment in Ramicourt, France when, in October 1918, his platoon was held up by a German machine gun nest.

Working his way under heavy fire, he single-handedly charged the post, bayonetting several gunners and capturing two machine guns.

He was severely wounded but continued the offensive, rushing forward to take out more machine guns and capture enemy soldiers.

He was presented with his VC by King George V in March 1919, and died in April 1945 from injury he sustained while serving on the home front during the Second World War.