With the approaching coronation of Charles III, there is apparently a need for more bellringers throughout the UK. This was highlighted by Swedish television the other day.
When I still lived in Port Sunlight, I learnt a little bellringing myself under the direction of John Hulse and together with some friends from the, now disbanded, Boys’ Brigade. While it looks simple, the ringing is quite complicated. Ringing in a group requires having full control over the bell, which weighed in at between 180 and 650 kg. The sequence followed specific patterns called out by the bell master. The patterns followed a simple set of rules which I used to write a computer programme to work out all the possible permutations. Nobody was ever interested in my programme, so I did not develop It further.
Practice was on Mondays with Services twice on Sundays and the occasional wedding on Saturdays. For funerals a single bell was rung, usually with a leather glove on the clapper to muffle the sound.
For weddings, we would ring the bells about five minutes prior to the arrival of the bride. If she was late, it could be quite tiring. When the bride arrived, we stopped the ringing and either sat quietly in the ringing room or snook out to the pub for a quick drink (underage!). If the weather was good, we would sit on the roof of the bell tower behind the ramparts and wait for the signal to ring the bells as the newlyweds left the church. On one occasion, one of the ringers was a bit bored, so he decided to walk around the top of the ramparts, with a drop of 20 m to one side. When we got the signal, we went back inside and rang the bells as for every other wedding. As the bride and groom were leaving through the main entrance, they were greeted by the fire brigade, who had been called by some neighbours worried by the people running around the roof. With the ringing completed, we crept out from the back of the church. We got a good telling off the next day!