A new peal was rung for the first time on Saturday 12 March 2022.
Postponed from 2021 due to Covid restrictions, the new peal has 5,000 changes and has been named the ‘St John of Beverley Surprise Royal‘ to mark the 1,300 anniversary of St John’s death in 721.
Records show that the Minster possessed two bells in 1050. Four bells were installed in 1366, three of which having been recast are still used in the Minster. When Thomas Mease was the incumbent (from 1703) a restoration of the Minster took place. The bells were re-hung and new ones added; the great bell in the south-west tower in 1703 and the treble in 1747.
Canon Nolleth (incumbent from 1880-1921) was responsible for the two major overhauls of the bells, one in 1896 and the other in 1901 by Taylor of Loughborough. When they were re-hung the total number of bells was increased from 8 to 10 in the north-west tower. The chimes for each quarter are rung on all 10 bells and the melody was composed by organist John Camidge.
Great John is the bell that chimes the hour and it dates from 1901. It weighs over 7 tons and is over 7 feet in diameter. As the inscription in Latin shows, it is not dedicated to Saint John of Beverley. It reads, “I am called the great bell of Saint John the Evangelist 1901”.