Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the bells, the bells ring out

When I was young, there was a church in our neighbourhood that rang the bells (automated) every Sunday. At some point a few years ago, on a visit home, something reminded us of this church and my mother told me that they didn't have the bells anymore as the neighbours complained. Huh?? Complaining? About church bells once a week for about 2 minutes? Probably the same people who complain that 'those annoying birds are singing again and I haven't had my cup of coffee yet. I want them stopped'.

My first day with EM we went into town and saw the church where her son would be married. It was a very old church with a lychgate and ancient, toppling gravestones surrounding three sides in the yard. While we were looking inside, suddenly the bells started ringing - a practice. I had no idea that this was to be a part of the service and was tremendously excited when I realized there were live bellringers up in the tower pulling the cords. That such a tradition still lives on (a 400 year old English one, I've learned) intrigues me no end. Indeed, the bellringers do tours, talks and lessons. There are tutorials and opportunities to learn bell ringing and competitions and visits to other church towers to ring their bells.

Bellringing looks so very complicated, but apparently you do not need strength, as I at first thought, instead you learn control. And I think if I were to be living in England, this would be an undertaking I might enjoy.



  1. Ohh, that is SO COOL! I love church bells too, and I grew up with two churches across the street from each other within a block of my house. I loved it. The Methodist church rang church music Sunday mornings. The ringing of the bells after a wedding is incredibly romantic!

    At my university too, we have a belltower with a carillon. It is automated though, but every quarter hour it rings, and then on certain days it plays music. I hope they never stop it. Thankfully there are no dorms nearby so the students aren't disturbed from their slumbers!

  2. Atheist though I am, I love church bells. The ones on our street have been silent for a couple of years now because the bell tower was in such bad shape the vibrations might have taken the tower down. They're rebuilding it now, so hopefully we'll hear the bells again soon. As this is Catholic land, it was every day at noon and 6pm as well as sundays for mass.

  3. Loved the short video.

    I love church bells too! There is something about it that makes your skin tingle doesn't it? I remember during one of my visits to England (a guy I dated for years is British originally from Slough) and we had dinner at the pub listening to the church bells practice. It was lovely :)

    In this era of automation, it's nice to see some places retaining this 400 yr old tradition.

    I miss England...

  4. we have church bells on a sunday, just audible from our house but a lovely part of village life.

  5. Thursday night is bell practice night, I love leaving the patio doors open and listening the the peals of the bells. And then again on Sunday morning, nothing nicer to sitting with a cup of coffee listening to the bells. Oh to be England..........


  6. Ruth: I haven't heard bells at a wedding before, and it is incredibly romantic

  7. Jazz: These bells were just recently restored in 2004.

    At least you'll know when it's lunch and dinner time when the bells start pealing again.

  8. UA: "makes your skin tingle" - that's it exactly. In a good way.

  9. Hagelrat: Welcome. So you have to be quiet to hear them. Very approriate.

    MA: I am envious

  10. Whim: I don't think they do (I also wondered about that). Part of the renovation project is to add more soundproofing in the open gallery as the organ was too loud and they couldn't hear their bells properly.

    I'm sure the EU will wade in with a new regulation soon - maybe someone who lives in England can tell us?

  11. we had bells at our wedding, it is wonderful :)

  12. A church near my new house has automated bells - they chi,e on the hour and periodically play songs. I adore them.


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