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CHRISTCHURCH BELLS. AKA - "Christ Church Bells in Oxon." English, Country Dance Tune (2/2 time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABC. The tune was first published in 1679 by Playford in the supplement to the 6th edition of the Dancing Master (London), and was retained in all subsequent editions of the long-running series. Christchurch Bells are "in Oxon" (Playford) and the tune is described as a three part round. "Christ Church Bells" also appears in John Walsh's Compleat Country Dancing-Master (London), editions of 1718, 1731 and 1754, and in the ballad operas The Village Opera (1729), Polly (1729), Bay's Opera (1730), and Chambermaid (1730). It also appears in the 1790 music manuscript collection of London musician Thomas Hammersley. The first mention of Christ Chuch bells, Oxford, was in 1546, when the Diocesan see moved from Osney Abbey to Christ Chuch, bringing along the bells. Great Tom, the loudest bell, was recast by Christopher Hodson (a bell-founder from London) in 1680 an event that was perhaps the inspiration for the title.
Printed sources: Barlow (The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 222, p. 57. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986. Karpeles & Schofield (A Selection of 100 English Folk Dance Airs), 1951; p. 19. Sharp (Country Dance Tunes), 1909; p. 52. Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London, 1740; No. 150.