Bells have been part of the English way of life for many years. Horses had them attached to their harness to herald their approach and they announced the hours to those without a clock of their own. Churches used them (and still do) to call the faithful to worship and to remind others that a service was about to take place. Church bells were used to call people to the fields. There was a Seeding Bell, a Harvest Bell and a Gleaning Bell to warn that it was time to start or finish work. A Pancake Bell was rung to remind of Lent and an Oven Bell to warn that the Lord-of-the-Manor's ovens were hot and the villagers could take their bread to be baked. Curfew bells were also sounded and in wartime, the tolling of church bells would warn a community of imminent attack or invasion.
Don’t expect to recognise the ‘tunes’. Bell ringing is more like a game of chess played at speed, each bell continually swapping places so the order never repeats. Beginners start by learning to handle the bell (which is very heavy and swings through a full circle) and then progress to ringing simple ‘rounds’. The real fascination begins as they learn to mingle with the other bells; simple patterns at first but becoming more complex as your ringing improves.
St Mary’s has a thriving and friendly band of bell ringers and we ring every Sunday morning and for special occasions. Our practice night is Wednesday from 7.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m. and all are welcome.
For anyone who enjoys exercise, social life and something completely new which might become a lifelong interest, why not pay us a visit? Young people tend to learn more quickly but you can start at any age provided you can climb the ancient tower steps. Just turn up one Wednesday at 7.30 p.m. for a look, or contact me first.
Sue Ellis, Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Croxall - Tower Captain
Catherine Richardson & Charlotte Ellis - Ringing Masters