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English style bellringing – 400 years of living heritage

Heritage Open Days are organised every year, across the country to ‘celebrate England's fantastic architecture and culture’. Notably, they are marked by access to many historic properties that are normally closed to the public. During the Heritage Weekend two years ago, All Saints bellringers held their busiest ever tower open day, and they will hold another this year on the afternoon of Sunday 14th September. Visitors will be able to see the inner workings of a bell tower at close quarters, and able to enjoy the spectacular views of Wokingham from the tower roof.

Also on the Sunday afternoon, there will be separately organised guided tours of the church and churchyard.

But heritage is about more than just buildings and artefacts. Tower bells and their specialised fittings would be of little use without the skills and commitment of the people who ring them. For over 400 years, since English style bellringing, and the unique way of hanging bells that makes it possible, first evolved, successive generations of ringers have refined and developed the art. They passed on their knowledge to the next generation, and kept alive the living heritage that enables us all to enjoy that uniquely English sound. Looking back, it is fascinating to realise how different the world was 400 years ago, and how ringing too had to change to adapt to the challenges of each new age, in order to prosper and survive.

To recognise this living heritage, there will be an illustrated talk about the history and practice of English style bellringing, on the Friday evening (12th September) at the Town Hall.

Information about all Heritage Weekend events will be on the Town Council website www.wokingham-tc.gov.uk/. Information about ringing and ringing events is on the tower website. Go via the Parish website or direct to: www.allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/.

John Harrison ( July 2008 )


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