Yesterday's CCC conference

Arcubus markregan at a...
Wed Nov 5 09:42:16 GMT 2003

I sent this out under the wrong heading...this is my feedback and
observation on a depressing day:

Yesterday, as a new and naïve DAC advisor, I went to a Council for the
Care of Churches (CCC) seminar on the conservation of old bells and bell
frames. It was well attended by DAC advisors, worried suppliers,
unworldly conservationists and a sensible diocesan chancellor. We had a
good talk on bell tuning from Whitechapel and on welding bells by
Soundweld. Another speaker told us that bells are a "paradigm of the
relationship between man and God" (and should be left untuned). That
whizzed over my head like Concorde. I learnt about CCC's "strategic
mission for conservation". I'm struggling with the bureaucracy,
administration and impracticality of it all. The same speaker told us
that only ringers care about bell tuning and the quality of sound.
Nobody, especially the public for whom we ring, would notice or care.
This bizarre notion was firmly dealt with from the floor. 

I travelled home depressed and having slept on it all I feel worse
still. What worried me the most was the CCC's plan to extend the listing
of "historic 'whatever'" to more bells and now to bellframes. It looked
as if the new list would cover nearly every ring in a church tower. So
be worried and be concerned. When this list becomes "the law", it will
make future restoration, repair, improvement, augmentation, tuning,
moving bells harder and maybe impossible. When asked about how this list
would be made, by whom and with what criteria; bureaucratic secrecy was
protected by bluster and obfuscation. 

The old list of what should be conserved was published after much
disagreement. The conservation lobby is more conservative and very
powerful. Every DAC advisor, supplier and ringer I know would broadly
agree about sensible conservation and a consultative approach to bell
work. The CCC and maybe English Heritage are disconnected from the rest
of this group. In a hundred years' time our successors will look back on
this time and wonder why a dynamic and living part of English church
life went backwards. There was little respect for our ringing community,
we are just a nuisance, wanting to use things which others think should
be frozen in time.

It left me speechless, Why are we letting this happen? By arguing
amongst ourselves and not constructively challenging the CCC and English
Heritage. We have a lot to do and let's do it quickly.

Mark Regan

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