Saturday 11th November 2017 St. Peters church Barrowden Late afternoon.
The Barrowden Bellringing Band (Band =Team) took on the challenge of a Quarter Peal of Plain Bob Minimus late Saturday afternoon, rung half-muffled on the back five bells at St Peter’s Church in commemoration of the 99th Anniversary of the ending of the First World War in 1918.
A Quarter Peal consists of ringing without interruption or error, from memory, a predetermined pattern and with an approved sequence of bells, for a period of time.
The piece known as Plain Bob Minimus is referred to by ringers as a Method. It is an entry level piece of “music” and is used by some bands as an initiation into extended ringing. All the ringers on this occasion had previously rang a Quarter Peal.
The attempt was completed in just over 45 minutes and was verified by the bands invigilator, Janet Ball, as being successful and we were able to retire for a well earned beer amid much self congratulation and a sense of achievement.
The details have been posted in The Ringing World, the official journal and web-site for such events, but looks fourth division compared to a recent Full Peal Method of Bristol Surprise Maximus, lasting “just” 16 hours and 7 minutes, rung by 12 ringers without substitutes – making it, we believe, the current world-record on twelve bells.
Q – Why half-muffled?
Attaching a robust leather pad to one face of a bell’s clapper causes the deadening of the sound which to many people creates a sombre and some say even eerie sound which is thought appropriate for funerals, commemorations and the marking of other significant events.
Q – Why five bells and not six?
The Band had recently installed new bell ropes and sallies following a significant and very generous donation from Augean plc, and wanted the opportunity to ensure that the ropes were well bedded-in and adjusted to the correct lengths in preparation for ringing for the Remembrance Service.
Despite having a robust membership, the timing of the attempt and other village events made raising six ringers from our own band a challenge for this important occasion. Consequently we had to seek assistance. There had also been difficulties with the heating system and the lighting meaning potential ringers could not commit if there was some doubt that the attempt would even commence when they could have rung elsewhere.
Sunday 12th November 2017
With the Band’s white emblemed short sleeved shirts in evidence and the heating and lighting working we were not short of ringers.
The bells had been left in the “up” position following the previous days ring, saving us all some energy and time.
The plan agreed with the Churchwardens was to ring half-muffled in short bursts of approximately five minutes between 10:20 and 10:55 – the start of the Service of Remembrance.
Good ringing is all about bell control – a bell rope should only be pulled – pushing it leads to all kinds of mishaps, just ask any one of our band. So ringing well for a public event is a severe test of skill and nerve for all bellringers, however experienced. Despite this it was decided to include two important but tricky techniques:
The first known as “Whole Pull and Stand”, where the front five bells are rung in sequence known as “Rounds”, so that each bell strikes in order once “open” and then when all six bells have struck “open” they each in turn are rung in sequence a second time but with a muffled strike, the bells 1 to 5 are then held on the balance, while the Tenor (our heavy bell) and sixth in the sequence, is again tolled once at “open” and again once muffled. Then after a short pause the format is repeated. This year’s Band did this difficult exercise extremely well on three separate occasions ending with some very tired fingers and thumbs.
The second technique calls for one ringer to be volunteered to Toll, eleven strikes only, of the Tenor, commencing at precisely 11:00. following the sounding of the Last Post. This year it was Les Wilkinson who rose to the challenge and accomplished the task with great accuracy.
Following the service and before lowering the bells into their relatively safe resting position allowing for the muffles to be removed, there was the ringing of some very well struck “Rounds” followed by some even nicer “Called Changes”, where the order of the bells is changed on the instructions of one of the ringers.
Who would have thought that the ringing of church bells was so complex?
Anyone interested in the precision of bellringing wanting more information should visit St Peter’s Church when the Band practice most Wednesday evenings between 19:30-21:00.
As we say in bellringing circles at the conclusion of a piece of music That’s ALL ……..
Barrowden Bellringers – 2017