|Our bells have a series of different functions, and can be rung in different ways.
The tenor bell can be rung very slowly, as for a funeral - the "passing bell" that mourns the passing of one of our community - usually just before a funeral, as we did recently for Ken Collins and Vera Perry.
Our deepest note bell (10th), weighing 1.8 tonnes, is swung round and back up to the balance, is allowed to rest there for a moment, and then back round for the "second blow". We call these two blows a "whole pull". We have a leather pad (or "muffle") that can be strapped to one side of the clapper of the bell, so that second note is quieter and sounds more distant, like an echo (ringing "half muffled"). Traditionally the tolling is done with one whole pull for each year of the deceased's life.
Ringing in a mournful way can also be done with a group of bells, in sequence, also half muffled. This we recently did for the service commemorating the Swiss Air Disaster, and also for the Good Friday United Service. As well as being half muffled, we ring slowly. We also ring in a celebratory way - to call the congregation to church or to celebrate a wedding. This is with no muffles. Striking is done quicker to make a brighter sound. Well struck, our ten bells make a magnificent sound.
Our tower band ring for Sunday services with no payment, but for weddings we charge a fee to cover our expenses. To ring ten bells we need ten skilled ringers.
A major new advance in our Tower is that we can now ring the bells without making any sound at all. We have made silencers, which clip onto the bell clappers, providing a thick layer of rubber between the clapper and the edge of the bell, so no note is produced. Optical sensors on the bell frame send signals to a PC in the ringing chamber with software that generates the sound the bells would have made, through loudspeakers.
Ringers can now learn to handle the bellropes with the same dynamic that they would have if ringing for all the village to hear, without embarrassment. This is allowing us to teach new ringers at times of day when they are free to learn, without villagers suffering the repetitious sound and unsocial timing that otherwise would result.
We have several new ringers, with ages ranging from 11 through to 60s, all showing developing skill. Remarkably, it was an 11 year old who rang the (6th) tenor bell for the Swiss Air Disaster service, for the last five minutes before the service. If you used to ring and would like to have a go again, or would like to learn from scratch, please phone me on 01934 862852.
Philip Kinsman Tower Captain
A German duke entered London on the evening of 12 September 1602, and was astonished by the unique character of the city's sound.
"On arriving in London we heard a great ringing of bells in almost all of the churches, going on very late in the evening, also on the following days until 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening. We are informed that young people do that for the sake of exercise and amusement, and sometimes lay considerable sums of money as a wager, who will pull longest or ring it in the most approved fashion.
Parishes spend much money on harmoniously-sounding bells, that one being preferred which has the
best bells. The old queen (Elizabeth I) is said to have been pleased very much by this exercise, considering it as a sign of the health of the people."
Church bell ringing for extended periods of time is still one of the more heroic feats of continuous undivided human concentration and coordination. A moment's loss of concentration by any participant can cause the whole peal to "disintegrate" into chaos
On Saturday 29 October 2011 a number of us rang a Full Peal of Stedman Caters, in 3 hours 16 minutes, at All Saints' Wrington, to celebrate the centenary of the augmentation of the bells from 6 to
10, and the renovation of the bells and tower.
"Caters" means that nine of the bells took part in the pattern, with the Tenor marking time behind. The Stedman composition was first composed by Fabian Stedman and published in 1677.
Peal report >>