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A peal involves ringing over 5000 changes continuously. On bells like ours, it takes about three hours. Peals and quarter peals are often rung to mark special occasions. Nearly 50 peals have been rung at All Saints this century. During the 800th anniversary celebrations, three years ago, we rang a peal of Wokingham Surprise Major.
The method was a new one, named for the occasion. By tradition, the first band to ring a peal in a method may name it. Methods have been named after many things, some have evocative names like Primrose, Morning Star or college exercise, but many are named after places. For example, Cambridge, Yorkshire, London and Bristol, are among the standard methods widely rung.
The anniversary peal was a significant achievement, and this year, the ringers decided to commission a peal board as a more permanent and visible record of the event. Peal boards are found in many churches. Some are valuable historic artefacts. Of the peals rung at All Saints, only four are recorded with peal boards. One marks the death of Revd. FE Robinson, founder of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of ringers, and three, in 1907 ,1910 & 1921, marked the Rector’s birthday!
The peal board was on display in church over Christmas, and is now hung over the door in the ringing chamber. It should still be there when our descendants are considering how to mark the 900th anniversary.
John Harrison (Jan 1993)
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