You could decorate a Christmas tree with the sweet, native bell flowers that flourish in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. In fact, I have  done this in my garden at Blackheath. I used correas, cinnamon bells and apple berry blooms to adorn a little Lycopodium ‘tree’ which has its own waxy ‘candles’.

Home grown Christmas tree.

Home grown Christmas tree.

The crimson rosella loves correa bells too.

The crimson rosella loves correa bells too.

The soft yellow bell of the wildflower Apple Berry.

The soft yellow bell of the wildflower Apple Berry.

Australian native Cinnamon Bells

So sweet and delicate

Lycopodium Christmas tree

Lycopodium, decorated from the garden.

Mind you, the only chimes of bells heard  here in the mountains are from the secretive bell birds, feeding  deep in the Grosse Valley.

Lines on the bellbird by Henry Kendall

Well until now that is.  Soon there will be a fine peal of  six bells in St Hilda’s  Anglican Church at Katoomba. hildas-church I have always felt a strong affection for this church. It reminds me of my old friend Hilda Lowe, who generously provided most of the ground covers in my garden. But I digress….

I was alerted to the new bells by an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette.

Chair of the bells committee Susan Stones, and the Reverend Ray Robinson.

Chair of the bells committee Susan Stones, and the Reverend Ray Robinson. (Blue Mountains Gazette)

According to the Gazette, the oldest bell originally  hung in a  WWI military fort, located  in the Humber Estuary, Leicestershire.

Source of the oldest bell...a UK military fort.

Source of the oldest bell…a UK military fort.

Four were cast in the UK and sent out by sea. The final bell was donated by a member of the Australia and New Zealand Association of Bell Ringers.  When the article mentioned that all six would be on view before being installed in St Hilda’s bell tower I made a quick trip to Katoomba.

There they were, all lined up in their graduated sizes.

The entire peal of bells awaiting installation.

The entire peal of bells awaiting installation.

To my great joy we were welcomed to the the church by the newly appointed Bell Captain, whose name is (oh so appropriately)….. Anne Bell!  Anne is not too sure what her responsibilities will be, but she has signed up with other locals to learn the art of bell ringing. Apparently it takes about 12 months to become proficient.

Anne Bell, between the two largest bells.

Anne Bell, between the two largest bells.

The names engraved on the bells reflect the values of St Hilda’s congregation; praise, grow, share, power, worship, love.

I love the fact that one bell was donated in memory  of a WWI serviceman, who died  at The Somme, 25th August 1918. RIP Driver J.F. Shepherd.



After the bells  are installed there will be an inaugural peal  to celebrate Christmas.  Don’t worry, an experienced team will be brought in. Thereafter there will be a ten minute peal on Sundays. On special occasions it is hoped that the church will receive council approval for a full peal, lasting about ninety minutes. One can only hope  local residents enjoy the sound, unlike Midge Mather, an elderly resident of a small village in England called Compton Bassett.

Midge Mather’s extraordinary  story is included HERE.

NB…my dentist lives in Katoomba and when I told him about the bells he turned rather pale and almost impaled me with a probe.  Ha ha!




  1. haha, Anne Bell will have a rude awakening if she thinks a full peal is only 90 minutes. A quarter-peal is at least 45 minutes, so times that by 4! And it’s a lifetime of learning as when my sister stayed with me after my recent operation, she was constantly studying pages of ‘changes’ for something she was ringing at after her return home.

    My sister has been a Ringer since she was about 12, first learning to ring at St Luke’s in Chelsea. When she moved to Berkshire, she was asked to be a Ringer at the Curfew Tower inside Windsor Castle – which is a post for life. You have to be pretty good to be asked in the first place. She has rung many full peals at the Castle for Royal Weddings and other celebrations, but also ringing with muffled bells on sadder occasions, such as for the funeral of Princess Margaret. Now in her 70s, she can still ring a quarter-peal, but can no longer ring for hours on end.

    I love the sound of bells. Enjoy yours when they are finally hung.

    • Pauline

      Yes, having read Dorothy Sayer’s Nine Tailors, I thought 90 minutes sounded quite short. Anne asked if I’d like to join the bell ringing group, but I had to refuse…I would probably end up strangling myself with a rope or something. What fascinating experiences for your sister.Perhaps she could write a blog for me?

  2. It would be lovely to hear the bells ringing out Christmas morning or even Christmas Eve services. I wish all the bell ringers success. I’ve watched a television episode of murder among the bell ringers of a small village in the series Midsummer Murders. It’s a classic series and has such a quaint setting among the old world English houses and churches. I think it’s available to watch on Netflix.

    • Pauline

      Yes, I’ve watched that episode of Midsomner murders myself, Heather. For many years we had a holiday home in the area where the series is filmed. I also loved the Dorothy Sayers book, Nine Tailors. about a murder based on change-ringing. I’ve always been fascinated by bells.

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