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A new members view of the Tower

♦ By Tina Edwards ♦ Posted in NewsComments Off on A new members view of the Tower

Ringing week

Bell Ringing.
A new members view of the Tower
by John Warren

My wife Pam read the article about bell ringing in the Stoke Poges News earlier this year and was immediately intrigued. She seemed to like the idea of playing a tune on the church bells. I wasn’t so sure but agreed to go along to the taster session at St Giles in June. Following that we were both keen, so we attended the week long training session in August when we were joined by two other novices, Jane and Grace. Looking back now after two months of lessons, I realise that whatever preconceptions we had concerning bell ringing were definitely wrong.

For a start the age of the people involved is lower than we expected and currently ranges from 18 upwards. And although we expected the ringing to be physical, we did not anticipate the mental challenge.

Before the lessons even started there was the atmospheric bell tower to experience and introductions to the very welcoming team of ringers.  Our lessons from Peter, John and Ralph over many weeks have been professional, patient, instructive, and fun. In fact the entire bell ringing team are very receptive to new recruits; they are a very friendly bunch indeed. And the highlight so far was surely our trip to St Paul’s Cathedral when a group of us had the opportunity to watch the bell ringers in action. The whole experience was a privilege and quite inspiring.

So what is it like to take instruction on ringing in the St Giles bell tower?

Well the physical side of actually ringing a bell is much more challenging than it looks and it took us the whole training week just to master the basic technique of pulling the rope. At all times we were supervised on a one to one basis since, if we were to lose control of the bell, the rope could cause damage. It was several weeks later before we were able to ring unsupervised. One of the reasons it took so long is that, unlike other activities like golf or playing the piano, you cannot go away and practise on your own so you are limited to two hours per week of active ringing.

We now have to come to grips with the mental challenge which occurs when we have to ring the bells out of sequence, which is called a method. This demands total concentration at all times, which combined with the physical exertion makes the activity particularly tricky for a novice, but also very rewarding. The next time you hear a peal of bells being rung at St Giles bear in mind that it may last for more than three hours with no breaks. There aren’t many other activities that are so mentally challenging and physically demanding for such a long period of time.

So we are now at the stage where we can look forward to Sunday ringing and Wednesday practice sessions, reading the text books in between times and wondering if we’ll ever get our brains around the workings of a ‘method’ (or what Pam thought in July was a tune).

If anyone is interested in learning how to ring, contact Deputy Tower Captain, Anne Frank 01753 290630.

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We are part of the Church of England and of the Deanery of Burnham and Slough. We seek to play an active part in the wider church. We are also keen to encourage good co-operation across denominational boundaries as we seek to be part of God building his kingdom.