Bell ringing at St Mary Magdalene’s Church
For many years there has been an enthusiastic band of ringers at the Parish Church, and several Wethersfield-trained ringers have gone on to become officers of University ringing guilds, and subsequently to being some of the country’s leading ringers.
The peculiar and very English art of Change Ringing as we know it, developed in the mid 1600s and has held people in fascination ever since. It is a strange mixture of music, physical exertion, mathematics and folk art which can be, and is practised by people of all ages on an equal footing. Our normal practices usually have an age range from 11 years to 80 plus. Alongside the obvious physical exercise, a big attraction for many ringers is the mental challenge involved in producing the permutations. The intense concentration levels that are developed keep the brain active into old age.
There are eight ringing bells in our tower (plus a clock bell hanging on the outside of the spire). The largest, oldest and deepest sounding bell bears the inscription “MILES GRAYE MADE ME 1623”. The Miles Graye in question was the second in a line of famous bellfounders of that name who operated in Colchester, and who cast bells for all over the region, many of which are still ringing today. The rest of the bells were cast at the world-renowned Whitechapel foundry (sadly now closed), three of them in the same year as Big Ben, so they may have sat on the foundry floor alongside their more famous sister. Bells, like ships, it should be noted, are always female!
Our main object is of course our Sunday Service ringing, but beside that and our weekly practices there are many other occasions to ring. We ring for weddings and national occasions; sometimes ringing in memory of someone who has died; we have been commemorating the centenaries of each of Wethersfield’s WW1 losses with special ringing. We arrange special ringing to further the skills of band members and take part in events at other towers around the district.
Ringing is such an inclusive fraternity that once you can ring, you can walk into almost any tower in the world and be accepted as one of the band. And with 6,000 to choose from, one can soon amass a lot of friends.
How long does it take to learn? – How long is a piece of string? Some people are able to ring without assistance after only a few weeks, others may take months. But really that is only the start; it’s a lifetime of learning, and still you won’t have exhausted the possibilities.
Click here for directions from your location to our front door!
If you are interested in having a try, please contact Roy – firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01371 850481. Or simply turn up on our Monday evening practice night from 7.45 p.m.