[Bell Historians] Avebury

David Bryant djb122 at y...
Thu Mar 20 10:27:11 GMT 2003

Dennis Powney wrote:

"Knowing the people who have manned them during this time, some very young
and others at the other end of the scale, makes me realise that even if they
had a 19cwt ring in perfect order the sheer weight would have meant that
they would have been seldom rung. It is very hard to have a team of
strapping young lads when the village population is perhaps less than 200."

It's all a matter of expectations. I learnt at a village in Somerset, aged
about eight. The bells were a 23 cwt eight, front five on plain bearings,
hung in a timber frame at the top of a tall tower which moved considerably.
I was not particularly big or strong for my age, but I knew no other bells
and I and a nunber of others nearly as young learnt on them without really
being bothered about them. We also occasionally rang for weddings at a
nearby 18 cwt six which, in dry weather in summer when the frame dried out,
were sometimes barely ringable. Again, we did it. Likewise, we rang for
weddings at the other church in the group of parishes, which had a lumpy 20
cwt six. As a further example, at my present home tower (York Minster) the
youngest member of the band is a little girl aged 10. She can ring the 2nd
(8-2-23) to call changes on twelve, or to triples as the treble of the
middle eight. Her 12-year-old-brother has rung the same bell to a quarter as
the treble of the middle eight, and can ring the treble of 12 to touches of
plain cinques.

Which all goes to show that it's a matter of expectations. I think the
concept of remodelling rings of bells to a lighter weight on the basis that
it is easier for children is fundamentally flawed, particularly when it
reduces a previously fine ring such as Glastonbury to something which can at
best be described as anaemic. The grand sound of rings such as St Cuthbert's
Wells, Ilminster, Martock, Chewton, Ditcheat, etc, are what characterise
bells in Somerset, and long may it stay that way.


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