1925 - 2014

Michael was born in Lincoln on 11th August, 1925, the second son of John and Mary Freeman and younger brother of John. He attended St Peter at Gowt’s church and its infant school before going on to Lincoln school where he excelled at football.

Michael’s ringing career started young being taught by his father ,John Ashley Freeman, who was at one time Master of Lincoln Cathedral band, Master of the Lincoln Diocesan Guild and Central Council representative. With such an elevated tutor it was not surprising that Michael rang his first peal at age 11, ringing 1-2 to a hand-bell peal of Plain Bob Minor conducted by his brother (also John) on 5-6 and father ringing 3-4. This was on 4th August 1937. It was only 3 months earlier that Michael had rung ‘open’ on tower bells for the first time, this being at Lincoln Cathedral on the Coronation day of King George VI.

Michael served in the Royal Corps of Signals from 1943 to 1947 including spells in Burma, Singapore and Hong Kong intercepting enemy Morse messages. Michael’s life moved on with his gaining a place at Jesus College Cambridge from which he graduated with a BA in 1950, being awarded MA in 1954. During his time at university Michael rang hand-bell peals with the Cambridge University Guild particular associates being Geoffrey Dodds and Brian Threlfall. The last peal for CUGCR was in 1959, Stedman Cinques at Aston.

Hand-bells were to form the backbone of Michael’s peal ringing comprising 36 of his overall total of 54. Whilst this may seem modest today there were some notable performances, an early one being when Michael aged 14 rang in a hand-bell peal of 6-spliced Plain Major which contained 337 changes of method and all calls made in Original! Michael’s first tower bell peal had to wait until 1947 but was no less distinguished being Stedman Cinques at Lincoln Cathedral with his brother John and conducted by their father. Michael and brother John did much ringing together and of course we know that John went on to be President of the Central Council from 1969 to 1975.

Following graduation the Ministry called and Michael attended Queens’s theological college in Birmingham, becoming a Deacon in 1952 and priested in May 1953 by Bishop Maurice Harland at Lincoln Cathedral. Initially Michael served in parishes in his native Lincolnshire, in sequence Gainsborough, Messingham, Goxhill and Bottesford (near Scunthorpe).

It was in the same year that he was ordained that Michael married Sheila (née Bellamy) in Lincoln. Their family grew with three children being born, Simon in 1955, Sarah in 1956 and Jonathan in 1962. Only Jonathan learnt to ring and it gave Michael great pleasure to take part in his son’s first quarter, with brother John, appropriately Bob Minor in hand at St Nicholas Vicarage. Jonathan continued to ring in Warwick for some years before going to medical school.

In 1975 Michael moved to be Priest in Charge at St Nicholas, Warwick and later became Team Vicar at St Mary’s from 1984 to 1987. His last post was at Claverdon before retiring in 1990. Since that time Michael continued to be very much involved with Warwick, in 2013 preaching a sermon to mark his 60 years ministry. In the same year Michael and his wife Sheila celebrated their Golden Wedding in July.

Sadly, Michael died on 17th November, 2014 and a memorial service was held at St Mary’s, Warwick on 13th December. This was attended by the many parishioners, ringers, friends and family with a moving address given by his oldest son Simon. We give thanks for a truly Christian life and offer our condolences to Sheila, Simon, Sarah, Jonathan and families.

Quarter peals in memory of Michael were rung at both Warwick churches with a peal rung on 25th January.





Sun Jan 25 2015 3h16 (25)
5111 Grandsire Caters
Comp. R Allton
 1 Annie Hall
 2 Mark W Sayers
 3 Lucy J T Gwynne
 4 Christopher F Mew
 5 Karen M French
 6 John W G Gwynne
 7 David E Leafe
 8 Geoffrey W Randall
 9 Simon P Rogers (C)
10 Michael Chester
Rung in memory of Revd Michael Freeman, Priest-in-charge of St Nicholas’ Warwick from 1975 and Team Vicar of St Mary’s Warwick from 1984-1987.
600th peal and circled tower: 2.
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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers