[Bell Historians] Perspectives

David Bryant davidbryant at WZE2H-4hl2pN5h2613a7ajNvRUUzTqwolR2pjIiWWhHe8TkPQjZJnrVrVynYjEFdHTZcH_5-Vi6kaJxUrRkKICHD.yahoo.invalid
Tue Sep 18 22:11:30 BST 2007


> Is it opinion to have a presumption against rehanging full-circle bells
for chiming only?  The (perceived) needs of PCC may be just that but is that

> the end of the story?

Surely this will depend on the circumstances. Full-circle ringing is the
traditional form of sounding bells in this country, and continuing to allow
bells to be sounded in this manner should be the first objective - they are
actually more likely to get used, too. If a ring of bells is hung for
stationary or swing chiming, what are the chances of them being chimed
regularly? My experience is that one of them might be chimed for a few
minutes before services, and that will be about it apart from weddings when
they might all get chimed. By contrast, an easy-going, rehung set of bells
is likely to attract other ringers in the area.

However, there will of course be cases where there are reasons why it is
impractical to rehang bells for full circle ringing - a point made by Nick
from EH in his presentation at the conference. Reasons for this could be
historical - e.g. a very early bell frame and no room to retain it out of
use and put another one in, unstable tower, immovable obstructions such as
an organ put in the base of the tower and nowhere to ring from, etc.

In cases like this, it is often going to be impossible to be entirely
objective, but in my opinion it should always be the aim to rehang bells
currently hung for full-circle ringing so that they can continue to be rung
in this way, and any proposal to hang them for chiming should be backed up
by a very clear and reasoned argument as to why that is the appropriate
course of action. There are bound to be grey areas, but I think the key
issue is that decisions should be backed up by clear reasoning, and the
decision should not rest on one person's opinion.


> There’s plenty of evidence to prove that new bells create new ringers.
However, the old concept of a ‘Sunday service band’ is very much out of
> Many ringers have more than one home tower, many bells are rung
occasionally and not every Sunday – however they are being rung, and
increased social 
> mobility has changed how ringing works. The constructs of Diocesan or
County units is outdated. Structures created in the nineteenth century have 
> little relevance to the future of ringing in 2007.

Yes, I have to agree with this. Ringing is a folk art which was hijacked by
the Victorians. The link between change ringing and ringing for services is
of relatively modern creation, and given the constant decline in church
attendance and increasing age of congregations, surely ringing needs to be
re-established as an art in its own right, not simply as an extension of
religious worship, which it is not. Then, it might stand more of a chance in
recruiting younger people, and surviving in cases where churches are
converted to secular use - which is already happening in many towns and

I think Mark's point about Diocesan and County associations being outdated
is well proved by an average meeting of such an association. I haven't been
to a Yorkshire Association meeting for quite a while, but last time I did
grey heads predominated - what do these Victorian institutions offer younger
people? Very little, it would appear. From a personal perspective, I also
dislike the way that the primary stated aim of many of them is ringing for
services, and the concept of the 'Sunday Service' band. Yes, we do ring for
services but anyone who tries to claim that ringers do this as an act of
worship is deluding themselves. Generally, churches are very accommodating
about allowing use of the bells and in return I am quite happy to ring when
they want the bells rung, but that is as far as it goes.

The connection between bells and church will, of course, always be there,
but if change ringing heritage is to survive it cannot be seen to be solely
a church activity.



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