October 2014 Report

When we ring for a service at St Mary's, can you see us? Can we see you? It's not a trick question; the answer is no. Unlike St Andrew's, where there is a small window looking into the church from the ringing chamber, there is no opening, no window, no CCTV for us to discern what is happening. The ringing chamber has a window to the outside; you can see it high up in the tower as you walk up the path. However, while it gives us light and a panorama of the clouds and sky, we cannot see down unless we stand on a box and peer precariously.

So how do we know when to stop ringing when the bride arrives at the wedding? How do we know how to peal out as the happy couple reach the door at the end? For a Sunday Service, it is a simple matter of ringing until a few minutes before the Service is due to start. For weddings, timing is crucial. The silence of the bells heightens the anticipation of the congregation, who understand that the bride has arrived at the door. For this reason I try to keep ringing till that moment. In addition to the 6 big bells, we have a 7th in the tower: a small servant's bell. When the bride reaches the door, an usher rings it and we know to stop. During the wedding, we can slip down the stairs; as the organ strikes up and the couple proceed down the aisle, we time our merry peal with their arrival at the door and the news is announced to the village.

It's a simple system, and occasionally goes wrong, but that is a story for another time.

Christopher Sykes
www.donhead.sdgr.org.uk