St Matthew's Bells
The church has an unusual set of hemispherical bells mounted in a large frame and rung
using the Ellacombe chiming system. This was devised by Rev. Henry Ellacombe in 1821 as a way of allowing a single ringer to ring a number of bells at the same time, which meant that the Reverend could dispense with his unruly and drunken band of bell-ringers! St Matthew's has a set of eight bells which are rung in this way every Sunday and at weddings. The bells were installed soon after the church was built, probably during 1876 as the tower was incomplete when the church was consecrated on 21st September (St Matthew's Day) 1875.
There is also a single service bell in the belfry which is rung before services on a Sunday. This bell is actually much older than the church itself, having been 'recycled' from a church in Kenilworth by Taylors of Loughborough. The bell bears an inscription indicating that it dates from 1734, 140 years before St Matthew's was built.
The entire contents of the belfry were removed for complete refurbishment by Taylors during the Tower and Spire restoration of 2018-20, and now look magnificent in their bright red frame.
The Ellacombe chime was rung on Saturday 26th June 2021 as part of a worldwide celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of the invention of Rev. Ellacombe's system. Some 80 churches in the UK took part, along with others in New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Canada. The event was streamed live and uploaded to a dedicated Facebook page:
Working Ellacombe systems are now relatively rare, as many churches which had them fitted have since removed them or allowed them to fall into disrepair.