Bell ringer and author Mary Bliss remembered
TRIBUTES have been paid to an influential bell ringer and author who has died aged 84.
Mary Bliss MBE was born in 1928 and died on Wednesday May 9 having amassed a remarkable list of achievements across her life, including being given the freedom of the City of London.
She was considered Gloucestershire’s leading authority on bell ringing, and, in 1986, co-authored The Church Bells of Gloucestershire with Frederick Sharpe, which she completed by herself when he died before it could be finished.
Mary lived all her life at the Old Bakery, Beech Pike, which was previously a working village bakery run by her father.
She told the Standard in 1997 that her mother took over the running of the bakery after her father died when she was a toddler and her brother John was only a few weeks old.
“People talk about hardships in one-parent families today but in those days it was really hard,” she said.
“She will be very greatly missed in many walks of life and our deepest sympathy goes out to her family in their loss”Jane Wykeham-Musgrave
She went to school at Winstone Village School and Cirencester Grammar School, and was the first person in the village to go to university when she left to study English at Bristol, where she first became interested in bell ringing. She spent her working life in teaching and rose to the post of deputy head of Churchdown Comprehensive School before taking early retirement in 1981.
She became chairman of the Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers in 1968, and later a member of the Bells Committee of the Council for the Care of Churches, the body responsible for the care of Church of England churches.
In 1996, she was made freeman of the Worshipful Conspiracy of Clockmakers, and was given the freedom of the City of London.
Among her other activities included being a church warden at Winstone Church and a Magistrate of Gloucester bench in 1975, and sat on the Family Court Panel, a responsibility she said she enjoyed.
“It’s been fascinating, frustrating and often heart-rendering, but it’s also been very worthwhile and sometimes you feel that you have actually done some good,” she told the Standard in 1997.
“It’s probably stupid to take on so much but I enjoy it all and I don’t like being idle”
Jane Wykeham-Musgrave, who had known Mary since 1988, described her as “a very true and loyal friend”.
“She was someone on whom one could always depend for clear and well considered advice,” she added.
“Her considerable experience of bell ringing was often tempered by amusing stories of past ringers and their escapades.
“She could be outspoken and did not suffer fools gladly but this contributed to her ability to think out problems clearly and succinctly and one admired and respected her for it.
“She will be very greatly missed in many walks of life and our deepest sympathy goes out to her family in their loss.”
Susie Parsons, fellow church warden at Winstone Church, echoed her sentiments. “I can’t speak highly enough of her,” she said.
“She was such a wonderful source of memories for the village.
“She did so much for church architecture, and of course the bell ringing too.”
She is survived by her brother John, nephews Matthew and Richard, niece Sarah, great-nephews Tom and great-niece Ellie.