Bell Ringers


News from the Belfry


 Charles Henry Ballard was not the only Great Totham ringer to serve in the First World War.

  Frank Newman was a Member of the Essex Association of Change Ringers between 1902 and 1912. On March 7th 1905 Frank rang a peal at St Peter’s Church. Frank was born at Heybridge on 13th March 1877. Frank's parents were Joseph, a Malt Maker born in 1835 at Coggeshall, and Ann, nee Jealous, born at Felsted in 1838. They were married at Maldon in 1865. Joseph died in 1879 and Ann in 1912.

  On the 7th January 1893, when Frank was sixteen years of age, he joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Second Class. His first week was spent on HMS Impregnable, a training establishment located on HMS Howe. On his eighteenth birthday Frank became an Ordinary Seaman and his service record indicates that his engagement was for twelve years. On the 26th June 1897, whilst serving on HMS Victorious, the ship took part in the Fleet Review for Queen Victoria's Silver Jubilee. Following the review she moved from home waters to the Mediterranean. In February 1898 HMS Victorious was detached from Mediterranean Service for the China Station. However she ran aground whilst entering Port Said and was re-floated two days later. HMS Victorious returned to the Mediterranean for a refit in Malta. On 16th May 1900 Frank joined HMS Revenge and returned to home waters. Frank was discharged from the Royal Navy on 3rd May 1901 the reason being “Shore by Purchase”.

  Frank married Rhoda Springett at Heybridge on May 7th 1900. She was born at Heybridge on 25th April 1875. Prior to her marriage Rhoda was a domestic servant to the Rev H.T.W Eyre at Saint Peters Great Totham. In the 1901 census Frank and Rhoda were living with Frank's mother Ann at Heybridge. On the 24th October 1903 Frank joined the Royal Navy Reserves and signed up for 5 years.

  In 1911 Frank and Rhoda were still living with Frank's mother but had moved to Broad Street Green. His occupation was a gardener and Sexton. (A Sexton is an official of a church charged with taking care of the edifice and its contents, ringing the bell etc and sometimes burying the dead).

  On the 2nd August 1914, at the outbreak of WW 1, Frank was posted to HMS Euryalus. Most of the ship's company were reservists. Euryalus was in the 7th Cruiser Squadron and was deployed to cover the landing of the British Expeditionary Force in France between 7th and 16th August. She then took a distant role in the Battle of Heligoland Bight on the 28th August 1914. This was the first general action of the war and four German Ships were sunk. Euryalus then joined the Dogger Bank patrol. On September 20th Euryalus left to refuel with coal and narrowly avoided the fate of her sister ships Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy who were torpedoed and sunk on 22nd September by the German U9 Submarine. Frank served in the Royal Navy until his discharge on the 25th April 1919.

 Frank died in 1949 and Rhoda in 1953. I have not been able to trace any children, however Rhoda had several siblings Esther, Arthur, Emma, Charles, Herbert, Polly and George.

 If you are interested in learning to ring the bells at St. Peter’s please contact our Tower Captain, Janice Spalding, on 01621 892197 or alternatively come to our Friday practice at 19.45 hours. For further information please visit

Andrew Hood 

 Great Totham Bell Ringers 

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