New members are wanted to bolster the team at St Laurence’s Church in Scalby.
If you live in England you will never be far away from the sound of church bells.
There are over 5,000 rings of bells capable of ringing with a full 360 degree rotation in this country, with only 50 or 60 in the rest of the world.
Bells have been a part of daily life for centuries in England and it is inevitable that they have become part of our culture, folklore and literature.
For example the song ‘Oranges and Lemons’ tells the story of the bells of all the London churches.
John Donne wrote ‘For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee’. Handel described England as ‘The Ringing Isle’.
Tennyson wrote his famous poem ‘Ring out wild bells’ which tells the tale of Christmas in the Lincolnshire countryside.
Dorothy L Sayers wrote ‘The Nine Taylors’ in which Lord Peter Wimsey’s knowledge of bell ringing helped him solve the murder mystery.
Bells have been rung since the 7th Century, but it wasn’t until the 17th Century that change ringing began in England.
To start with the bells were rung in order from the lightest to the heaviest which ringers call ‘rounds’.
As skills developed, the conductor called two bells to change position and this is known as call changes.
Then a method was devised in which every bell changed position with each pull of the ropes and this is called method ringing.
These methods are rung by each member of the band remembering a pattern in conjunction with the other ringers.
Many traditions built up over the years such as the sunset bell instituted by William the Conqueror as a signal for all lights to be extinguished.
There was also the gleaning bell, the seeding bell and the harvest bell.
The pancake bell was rung on Shrove Tuesday to call people to church to confess their sins before Lent or to be ‘ shriven’.
Domestic servants were given notice when the long sermons of those days had finished, by the ringing of the pudding bell. They would then know that it was time to put the puddings in the oven!
On Remembrance Sunday bells are rung half muffled over much of the country.
A spokesman for the bell ringers at St Laurence’s said: “At Scalby we have a very fine set of six bells with the heaviest bell weighing just over nine cwts.
“The third, fourth and fifth bells were all cast by Samuel the First of York in 1674.
“The fourth was recast in 1919 but the other two remain the same as they were, cast over 340 years ago.
“The other three bells were added in 1961 and cast by Taylors of Loughborough. The third bell is inscribed ‘We are in harmony, be ye likewise’.
“This uniquely English art is very popular and most people love to hear the bells.
“This seems to be endorsed by the outcry caused by the, temporary silencing of York Minster bells.
“Unfortunately there is a national shortage of ringers and we at Scalby are no exception with an ageing band and a shortage of new recruits.
“Remembering this wonderful English heritage, it would be a tragedy for Scalby bells to fall silent. We are therefore making this appeal for ringers to come forward and continue this heritage.
“It might be that you learnt to ring years ago and have not continued or you may be a complete novice but have often thought you would like to have a go.
“Now is your chance, we are a pretty friendly bunch in the ringing chamber and you will be welcomed with open arms!”
Anyone who would like to know more, see the bell ringers in action or have a lesson is invited to telephone Alan Grundy on 01723 871193.
The church’s regular practice night is Friday.