[Bell Historians] Tower Classification required

gareth@charollais.co.uk [bellhistorians] bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Wed Apr 20 11:16:23 BST 2016

This does all seem to come down to approaches to purpose, definition and classification. Choices are legion. To name a few there is a location approach. We could separate religious and secular by whether or not the bells hang in a consecrated building. Alternatively, we could consider control issues. Who has to give permission for the bells to be rung? Is it the vicar and/or the churchwardens on one hand, or some lay person on the other? A third choice is use. Is the ringing of bells ever associated with church services? The example of Swaffham Prior demonstrates the complexity of reaching any definitive conclusion. Two churches in the same churchyard. The one with bells redundant, the 'church' (can we even still call it that?) mainly used for a variety of secular activities (including 'champing' - imagine glamping but in a church) and never used for services. Yet the bells are rung for the services in the other church. On location and control criteria it is 'secular'. On use it is 'religious'. Take your pick. 

 From a historical perspective I think it is arguable that provision and maintenance of bells in churches (certainly up to the nineteenth century) formed part of the local government responsibilities of a parish - along with mending the parish pump, dealing with highways, lighting, policing and poor relief - rather than having much to do with the care of souls.

 For me, what might be helpful is not simply a list of rings divided into secular and religious, but one with more metadata associated (such as, in my example, where each sits in the location, control, use categories). But that's probably too much work to do on the basis that it might be useful to someone at some point.

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