Ringing the Devil's Knell

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About ten o'clock on Christmas Eve, ringers gather at All Saints church, Dewsbury, Yorkshire, to Ring the Devil's Knell. The church's tenor bell, called Black Tom of Southill, is rung once for every year since Christ's birth. It is called the Devil's Knell, or more colourfully, The Old Lad's Passing Bell, because of the belief that the Devil died when Christ was born. The tolling is carefully timed to finish on the stroke of midnight. A local legend explains the custom as established by one Thomas de Soothill, in penance for murdering one of his servants five or six hundred years ago.

Sykes, 1977: 149;Hole, 1975: 12–13.

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