12th June 1914 – 25th September 2014

Born Jean Thompson at Swanscombe, Kent, Jean learned to ring at the parish church of SS Peter & Paul where her father was a member of the band. She joined the Dartford band and, eventually, that of St Martin-in-the-Fields, where she remembered ringing for the 1937 Coronation.

Jean's first husband was James Bailey, who was the son of one of the famous Bailey brothers of Leiston, Suffolk. In 1945 Jean's husband rang in the 'Victory' peal at St Martin- in-the-Fields, but shortly afterwards he contracted tuberculosis and died in 1947 leaving daughters Janet and Christine. Jean then married Dennis Hall, a ringer from Bexley, and they had a son Andrew.

Jean and Dennis continued to live in Kent until the 1960's but then, because of his work, they began to move frequently to different parts of the country. Jean is listed in Sussex County reports from 1963 to 1967 but then Dennis' work took them further afield and they had homes in Goostrey, Cheshire, Earlswood, Warwickshire and near Saffron Walden, Essex.

Whilst living at the latter they taught a new band at Arkesden, Essex, where the bells had been silent for some years. They returned to Kent in 1999 to take up residence at Frognal House, Sidcup.

Jean was elected to the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths in 1935 with an impressive 79 years membership. She was, until September, the oldest member of the Society. She was able to talk at length about her early days of ringing and her recollections of pre-war ringing in London made very interesting listening. She was very lucid and a total joy to visit.

Jean celebrated her 100th birthday in June and was able to fully participate in the festivities which were organised for her at Frognal House. Jean was reportedly 'over the moon' to receive her telegram and very excited to be treated to some handbell ringing by schoolchildren from Orpington. While the party was in full swing, a peal of Bristol Surprise Major was rung at Swanscombe by the SRCY. Incidentally, although it was the 100th anniversary of her birth, 12th June was also the date of her wedding in 1937, which also took place at Swanscombe. Jean was not able to come and listen to the peal, but Jean's daughter and son-in-law arrived in time to hear the last two courses. A full family party of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren celebrated in some style on the following Saturday with Jean enjoying every moment.

Sadly, during the hot summer months, Jean became bed-ridden with painful arthritis and she died on September 25th. Her funeral at the church of St John the Evangelist, Sidcup on October 9th was attended by most of her extended family, plus some ringers and a number of healthcare workers from the home. The warm tributes and affectionate reminiscences gave a real picture of a wonderful lady.


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