Donhead St Mary Bell-Ringers - June 2019 Report

Donhead ringers are becoming internationally known! In Feb 2011, Paul Dewey wrote about his visit to Rockingham and Perth in Australia, when he had the opportunity to join the ringers at 5 different towers, including the iconic SwanTower in Perth. (It is a glass tower: the ringers and the bells can be seen quite well by the public. Look it up on the internet.)

Paul wrote then that he was made very welcome even though he had started to ring only a little more than a year earlier. He looked up the towers on the Dove’s Guide (an on-line database of all towers and bells in the world) and emailed the local tower captain. The reply said he “was welcome, as expected, because bell ringers are like that. Visitors are always welcome”.

Julie and I have just been to Vancouver and Victoria in Canada. We planned carefully what we wanted to do in the 4 days we were there. Like Paul, I looked to see if there were any churches with bells listed on Dove’s Guide and indeed there are two: Victoria Cathedral and the RC Cathedral of Vancouver. As luck would have it, Vancouver had a practice on Saturday morning and we had time to join them. They replied to my email that we would be very welcome (see above!) and how to reach them.

The practice was from 9.30 - 11.00. When we arrived, we learnt that the ringers had just been told there was a wedding at 10.00. Being the Americas, they were not used to bells so had not booked any. A wedding without bells? Seemed very odd to me! The result was that we rang till the bride arrived (so she did get bells after all, if she noticed) at which point silencers were fitted to the bell clappers. There are sensors in the belfry to detect the bells swinging, linked to a laptop in the ringing chamber, which uses an app to produce bell sounds. Se we continued our practice, hearing the “bells” ourselves while the outside world heard nothing. After the practice we joined them for tea and coffee at a nearby cafe.

As Paul wrote in 2011: be warned, bell ringing can be addictive. It is great fun and you are always welcome at any tower. You can learn from age 10 to 90. So come along to our next practice and have a go.

Christopher Sykes