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The Devil's Knell at Dewsbury Minster and the tenor bell, BLACK TOM

A Tradition that goes back nearly 700 years

The Devil`s Knell will be tolled on Christmas Eve, to finish on the stroke of midnight.

In 1434, a local knight, Sir Thomas de Soothill, flew into a rage upon hearing that a servant boy had failed to attend church that week. He grabbed the boy and, lifting him up, threw him into a mill pond, where the boy drowned. Overwhelmed by remorse at the murder, and as an act of penance, de Soothill paid for a new 1300-weight tenor bell for the parish church (now Dewsbury Minster), asking for it to be tolled at his funeral as people prayed for his soul. Sir Thomas also instituted the practice that the bell (named Black Tom after its benefactor) should be to be rung on Christmas Eve, with one toll for each year of the Christian Era, to proclaim the defeat of evil and the forgiveness of all sins, not just his own.

Now, of course the original bell is there no longer, having been recast in 1820, then again in 1875 to form part of the new ring.

The current inscription on the bell is:
I SHALL BE HERE IF TREATED JUST
WHEN THEY ARE MOULDERING IN THE DUST


So how do we ring "The Devil's Knell"

We meet around 10pm, having raised Black Tom earlier in the evening.
In Odd numbered years, (2011, 2013, 2015) we will prepare the bells to be stood at Backstroke.
In Even numbered years, (2012, 2014, 2016) we will prepare the bells to be stood at Handstroke
We bring tea, coffee, mince pies, Christmas cake and anything else to share.
The ringing starts around 10:20, The pace has to be "as though for a funeral", around 20 blows per minutes, hence 100 minutes.
Each person will ring 100 blows, adjudicated by an assistant, then a changeover to the next ringer is done seamlessly.
The ringer signs off that 100. We have a chart of target times, adjustments to the pace as needed.

As midnight approaches we have to ensure that the target in achieved without error, and a cheer goes up as the bells stands.

In 2015, I built an electronic counter system, with a display of the count.
and recorded a full length video of the ringing. That is posted on YouTube at

Then all downstairs for Midnight Christmas Mass


Year 2015 "The Devil's Knell"

Our progress in 2015

The Devil's Knell in progress



Publication Standard Photos

The pictures are copyright, hence if you wish to use them commercially, please contact me

Below each picture is a link to download the massive RAW or TIFF files
It is impossible to email these due to the size

Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2827
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2827, Pentax PEF Format, Size 22Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2827, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 92Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2827, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 11Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2827, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 8Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2828
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2828, Pentax PEF Format, Size 22Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2828, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 92Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2828, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 11Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2828, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 8Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2829
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2829, Pentax PEF Format, Size 22Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2829, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 92Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2829, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 11Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2829, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 8Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2838
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2838, Pentax PEF Format, Size 22Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2838, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 92Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2838, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 11Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 2838, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 8Mb
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 0775
Derek ringing Black Tom Pic 0775, JPEG Panasonic Compression Format, Size 3Mb
The Devil's Knell Stamp 1986, 31p
The Devil's Knell Stamp 1986, 31p
Dewsbury Minster Bells Pic 1861
Dewsbury Minster Bells Pic 1861, Pentax PEF Format, Size 10Mb
Dewsbury Minster Bells Pic 1861, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 35Mb
Dewsbury Minster Bells Pic 1861, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 4Mb
Dewsbury Minster Bells Pic 1861, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 3Mb
Dewsbury Minster Bells 5th and Tenor  Pic 1864
Dewsbury Minster Bells 5th and Tenor Pic 1864, Pentax PEF Format, Size 10Mb
Dewsbury Minster Bells 5th and Tenor Pic 1864, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 35Mb
Dewsbury Minster Bells 5th and Tenor Pic 1864, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 4Mb
Dewsbury Minster Bells 5th and Tenor Pic 1864, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 3Mb
Dewsbury Minster The Tenor Bell, Black Tom  Pic 1865
Dewsbury Minster The Tenor Bell, Black Tom Pic 1865, Pentax PEF Format, Size 10Mb
Dewsbury Minster The Tenor Bell, Black Tom Pic 1865, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 35Mb
Dewsbury Minster The Tenor Bell, Black Tom Pic 1865, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 4Mb
Dewsbury Minster The Tenor Bell, Black Tom Pic 1865, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 3Mb
Dewsbury Minster , Black Tom  Pic 1885
Dewsbury Minster , Black Tom Pic 1885, Pentax PEF Format, Size 10Mb
Dewsbury Minster , Black Tom Pic 1885, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 35Mb
Dewsbury Minster , Black Tom Pic 1885, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 4Mb
Dewsbury Minster , Black Tom Pic 1885, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 3Mb
Dewsbury Minster The North Side Pic 1909
Dewsbury Minster The North Side Pic 1909, Pentax PEF Format, Size 10Mb
Dewsbury Minster The North Side Pic 1909, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 35Mb
Dewsbury Minster The North Side Pic 1909, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 4Mb
Dewsbury Minster The North Side Pic 1909, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 3Mb
Dewsbury Minster The Tower, West Side Pic 1912
Dewsbury Minster The Tower, West Side Pic 1912, Pentax PEF Format, Size 10Mb
Dewsbury Minster The Tower, West Side Pic 1912, Pentax TIFF Format, Size 35Mb
Dewsbury Minster The Tower, West Side Pic 1912, JPEG ADCSEE Compression Format, Size 4Mb
Dewsbury Minster The Tower, West Side Pic 1912, JPEG Pentax Compression Format, Size 3Mb
The pictures are copyright, hence if you wish to use them commercially, please contact me