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2015 is a special year for bellringers because it marks the 300th anniversary of the first recorded peal. The names of the ringers and what they rang in the peal are on an ornate pealboard in the tower at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich.
For three centuries the peal has remained the gold standard ringing performance. It’s around 3 hours of continuous ringing so not to be undertaken lightly. About 5,000 peals are rung every year but only a minority (about 7%) of ringers take part. More quarter peals are rung with around a third of ringers taking part. The band at All Saints is well above those averages – two thirds have rung peals and all have rung quarter peals.
To mark the 300th anniversary the worldwide ringing community set itself the challenge of helping 300 ringers to ring their first peal during the year. That was an ambitious target since it is nearly double the recent average of around 160 but ringers have risen to the challenge and throughout the year the number of first pealers has grown steadily. I have been monitoring the progress and writing regular reports for The Ringing World (as part of my role on the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers PR Committee).
Where does All Saints fit in to this initiative? Kristin Fitch is our most recent recruit and we are hoping that she will ring her first peal this year. She wasn’t available for the peal that we rang during All Saints weekend so we have planned another peal for her on the morning of Saturday 12th December.
If you are in town on that morning and you hear us ringing, bear in mind that we are not only making a joyous sound for the community of Wokingham, but we are also playing our part along with ringers worldwide to mark a landmark event in the evolution of a unique aspect of our cultural heritage.
For more information see: cccbr.org.uk.FirstPeal2015
John Harrison (November 2015)
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