The actual Jubilee was celebrated at Arley on the Monday with a quarter peal of Stedman Doubles. This is quite a complicated five bell method and was a first for a number of the band. Then on the Tuesday morning the band attempted successfully to get the quarter peal of Cambridge Minor which the Sunday service band lost last month. This time we made not mistake and the quarter was rung in 43 minutes.
A number of people have commented to me that the ringing they hear sounds really good except for the very last piece of ringing heard before we finish. Our pub listener who awaits in "The Gate" also complains about the last bit of ringing. This is called ringing the bells "down" and allows us to safely leave the bells so that they cannot be easily swung or cause a major accident. It is also one of the most difficult parts of the exercise to get right along with "raising the bells" at the start of the practice or service ring. The group are progressing with the raising and lowering and whilst not perfect yet it is a lot better that it was, when we first started raising and lowering in peal a couple of years ago. Prior to this the bells were often raised on their own singularly or in pairs.
The reason for this raising and lowering is because in England, church bells are rung in complete 360 degree revolutions. One forward revolution and then one in reverse. This developed in the 12th century onwards. Change ringing as we know it today developed in the 17th century with people like Mr Fabian Stedman writing down methods and naming them for the first time. Hence the quarter peal of Stedman Doubles mentioned at Arley above. There are about 5500 ringing peals in England and less than 500 in the rest of the world namely in the former colonies. For instance there are only 17 towers in Scotland whereas locally Arley, Astley, Ansley, Kingsbury, Coleshill, Shustoke and Whitacre all have ringing peals. Even Lea Marston has three bells.
When down the bells have their mouth facing downwards and can only be swung slightly. When they are up for services the bells swing a full circle from the mouth up position. If a non ringer were to pull a bell off in this state they would not be able to control it and could injure themselves hence the need to ring them down. In Cornwall where they do less change ringing they ring up and down immaculately and very regularly and sometimes between each ring!
As always we would love to welcome new recruits