The triple Hail Mary recited in the evening, which is the origin of our modern Angelus, was closely associated with the ringing of a bell. This bell seemingly belonged to Compline, which was theoretically said at sundown, though in practice it followed closely upon the afternoon office of Vespers. There can be little doubt that in all save a few exceptional cases,. the tolling the Ave bell was distinct from the ringing of curfew (ignitegium); the former taking place at the end of Complin and perhaps coinciding with the prayers for peace, said in choir; the latter being the signal for the close of day and for the general bed-time. In many places, both in England and France, the curfew bell is still rung, and we note that not only is it rung at a relatively late hour, varying from 8 to 10, but that the actual peal lasts in most cases for a notable period of time, being prolonged for a hundred strokes or more. Where the town-bell and the bells of the principal church or monastery were distinct, the curfew was generally rung upon the town-bell. Where the church-bell served for both purposes, the Ave and the curfew were probably rung upon the same bell at different hours. There is a great lack of records containing any definite note of time regarding the ringing of the Ave bell, but there is at least one clear example in the case of Cropredy, Oxfordshire where in 1512 a bequest was made to the churchwardens on condition that they should "toll dayly the Avees bell at six of the clok in the mornyng, at xii of the clok at noone and at foure of the clok at afternoone" (North, Church Bells of Lincolnshire, 169). At the same time it seems clear that in the case of cathedral churches, etc., where the Office was said in choir, the interval between CompIin and the (anticipated) Matins of the next day was not very great; at any rate. at some seasons of the year. Under these circumstances the three interrupted peals of tile Ave bell probably served as a sort of introduction to the continuous tolling of the curfew which preceded Matins. This would be sufficient to account for certain clear traces of a connection in some localities between the curfew and the recital of the three evening Ayes. For instance, the poet Villon (fifteenth century) must. clearly be thinking of the curfew, when he writes:
J'oy la cloche de la Sarbonne
Qui toujours neuf heures sonne
Le salut que l'ange pr dit.
Again, if there were no such connection, it would be difficult to explain why some of the Reformation bishops like Hooper did their best to suppress the tolling of the curfew as a superstitious practice. Still the attempt was not successful. Long before this, in 1538, a Protestant Grand Jury. in Canterbury had presented the parson of St. Peter's church for superstitious practices, complaining of the "tolling of the Ave bell after evening song done" (Stahlscbmidt, Church Bells of Kent, 358), but this could hardly have been the curfew.