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A peal is the ‘gold standard’ ringing performance, with over 5000 changes, which takes around 3 hours to ring on medium weight bells like those at All Saints. There are more or less complete records of all peals ever rung since the first one in 1690. Peal ringing globally grew from a few hundred a year the 1880s to between 4000 and 5000 a year in recent decades.
All Saints came late to peal ringing, with the first in 1903, a few months after the bells were augmented to eight. A modest total of 74 peals have been rung here, well over half of them in the last thirty years.
Notable peals are often commemorated with a pealboard. Some famous towers are adorned with many ornate historic pealboards, while others have none. All Saints comes somewhere in between, with six.
The three simplest date from 1907, 1910 and 1921. They record peals rung by the local band to mark the birthday in early February of the then Rector, Rev Bertram Long. A larger pealboard records the peal rung by VIPs after the death of Rev FE Robinson, founder of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers, and the first person ever to ring 1000 peals, who lies buried at All Saints, beneath the large cedar tree.
Few peals were rung here between 1920 and 1980, and the other two pealboards are both modern. The first marks a local band peal at All Saints tide in 1990, as part of our 800th anniversary celebrations. It was the first ever peal of Wokingham Surprise Major. The new pealboard, in almost exactly matching style, records the first peal to be rung after the bells were restored in 2004. It was rung at All Saints tide 2005.
For more about peals at All Saints, and pictures of the pealboards, see: http://allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/peals/
John Harrison (April 2009)
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