Bells back in action…

Following the unexpected collapse of an internal sound control wall inside the bell chamber last January, both the intricate work of repairing damage to the wooden wheels used to swing the bells and the rebuilding of the wall is now complete.

We are delighted with the work done both by world-renowned bell founders Taylors of Loughborough (they were on site and at work in no time at all) and by MSM – our specialist builders – who undertook the tasks of rubble removal and reconstruction in a very tight and awkward space.

So now the very pleasant sound of 12 bells skilfully rung can be heard once more, with the sound-limiting shutters open or closed depending on circumstances.

Perhaps the next task will be to install live video from the ringing chamber (where the ringers work the ropes) and the bell chamber above, where the great bells swing joyfully to and fro!

Paul Sibly, Churchwarden 

St. George’s Day 2018

Your correspondent doesn’t have a good head for heights, but he was delighted nonetheless to be invited onto the very top of St. Mary’s tower roof to fly the St. George’s flag this morning in preparation for his feast day, tomorrow, April 23rd.

This job is usually performed by Martyn Marriott, who deserves our thanks and praise (though he, modestly, wouldn’t accept!)

It is quite a scary place, atop the tower. Especially if you look up! (Strangely enough, looking down over the parapet isn’t bothersome at all, but looking up to the top of the flagpole made me feel quite dizzy).

After the flag-raising, came the bell-ringing. I know it to be a rhythmic and mathematical art requiring a lot of concentration and fiendishly good memory skills.

On a good day, I might say of myself that I had a reasonable sense of rhythm and an old school teacher of mine would definitely call me “amatuerishly mathematical”…but I still couldn’t really work out what was going on between the ringers: to an outsider like me, it just seemed rather magical. It was also rather noisier than I expected, as the changes were called with abrupt precision (hear, for example, about the 52 seconds mark in the video):

We were treated to a rendition of Stedman Triples (which is what’s in the video and is a very old ringing method dating from the 18th century where the tenor bell [the heaviest -and the one on the furthest right of the video] always rings last in the change), followed by some Cambridge Surprise Major.

Can I just say that the Bell Ringers were consummate hosts, putting up with annoying third parties like me with grace and ease? And also that their work for our church is deeply appreciated by all.

ding, dong… bang!

A section of internal sound-control wall collapsed in the bell tower some time last week. The picture to the left was the rather spectacular result!

Surprisingly, perhaps, it looks worse than it is: the bells themselves were entirely unscathed, despite initial appearances.  Unfortunately, though, three of the wooden wheels needed to swing them to ring were broken. They are now in the world-renowned hands of Taylors of Loughborough bell foundry for repair.

Rebuilding the sound-control wall, originally constructed in the 1970s, may be a slightly trickier proposition because of the need to comply with the conditions governing repairs to historic buildings. However, repair work will begin as soon as possible.

All of this means that the wonderful ring of 12 bells in St. Mary’s Church tower will be silent for at least the next few weeks. We hope to hear them in full peal before too long, though.