Quarter peal ringing
A quarter peal is achieved by ringing the bells for about 45 minutes without stopping. The ringers change the order in which the bells ring at each stroke of the bell by following a set course in a method. One of the ringers is designated as the Conductor, he or she decides which method is to be rung and by calling different instructions during the ringing the method is extended and a total of 1260 changes make up a quarter peal.
We sometimes ring a quarter peal for a special service, or to celebrate an important event, like Remembrance Sunday.
For certain occasions, including Remembrance Sunday, the sound of each bell is partially muted on alternate strokes. This is achieved by fitting a leather muffle to one side of the bell’s clapper.
The poignant sound of half-muffled bells is befitting of such special occasions. The following 30 second audio clip was recorded from inside the ringing chamber of St Bartholomew’s, by Churchdown Ringers.
History of the bells
For nearly 400 years bells have sounded out across Churchdown from the church of St Bartholomew’s. In the intervening years some additions and changes have taken place to the bell installation.
Difficulties were experienced with the existing ring of bells and in 2015 three of the existing bells were recast, and more bell metal added, to form a new ring of bells. At the time the bell ringing appeal attracted much local media interest. In the clip below Radio Gloucester interviewed experienced ringer, Dave Turner, about the project.
One bell, now the second of the new ring, was retained and used in the new configuration. This bell was cast in 1933, at that time it was the treble (lightest bell) of the six bells installed. Two bells were considered to be pre-reformation and of historical importance, these are stored in the Lady Chapel at St Bartholomew’s for all to see.
To the right of the tower entrance a brass plaque records the bells in their 1933 condition. To complement this, a new plaque has been mounted on the left of the tower entrance to record the new bell inscriptions, at their 2015 installation.
The bell ringers
The ringers comprise a small but experienced band who contribute to church life by ringing the bells at St Bartholomew’s for services & special occasions. These occasions range from times of great joy and celebration, to more solemn occasions, ringing about 100 times a year in total.
How to get involved
Practices take place on Monday evenings and you are welcome to join in for a taste of what’s involved. It’s probably best to check with one of our ringers or our Tower Captain, Ron Harpham (01452 531361), to ensure that the practice is to take place.