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A peal to work up an appetite

Every so often the bellringers attempt a 'peal' - a technical term that needs a bit of explanation. When we are ringing, each of the eight bells rings once in some combination or another before they start again and ring another set of eight. So as the bells have identifying numbers, the combination 46728153 might be immediately followed by 46271835 and that might be followed by 64728153 and so on. This is further complicated because the aim is, in any piece of ringing, not to repeat any such combination - each must be different.

Anyway, a peal involves over 5000 such combinations. So each bell rings 5000 times and of course there's a bellringer at the end of the rope making it do so. This involves the ringer standing pretty-well still for nearly three hours (unbroken) except for the movement of his/her arms, so you can see that physically it is pretty demanding. This is especially true when you think that the heaviest bell is approaching the weight of a small car and, although it swings to and fro without a great deal of effort, one needs to constantly adjust the speed and that can only be done by the application of effort.

One also has to concentrate pretty avidly during the three hours. Placing your bell at the right part of the combination entails constant thought (there are rules to help), and all the time you are also trying to achieve precise timing accuracy so that the ringing sounds nice. There's lots more to add on this topic but that's enough for now.

Attempts to ring a peal often succeed but quite often fail, usually because one or more ringers loses concentration and forgets where to place their bell in the combinations. So it's pleasing to report that we successfully rang a peal on 26th January to mark our annual dinner. Ringing has its roots** in Victorian times, when there were lots of formal societies, and that formality has stayed in place. As a result peal announcements have their own special format, and you can see the announcement of our peal reproduced below. [The printed article had a copy of the published record .]

Steve Smith (February 2019) 

[** Much of the modern organisational structure of ringing (and the custom of ringing for services) is of Victorian origin but ringing itself goes back over 400 years, and the first recorded peal was in 1715.]


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