Its been a couple of weeks since I posted any news and this very rainy and wet day has prompted me to post an update.
We have done a lot of ringing since the church fete, which was much appreciated by Rev Rachel in her email to me afterwards thanking the ringers for their “…wonderful heralding of the fete!” We are very grateful for her support and encouragement.
Since then we have rung the 120 call change composition a further two times. On the 6th September it was to acknowledge the achievements of the olympics teams, and came the day after the paralympics closed. We mentioned especially Will Hipwell, born and bred in Lt Gransden, for his part in the Boccia squad in the paralympics. On the 10th September we rang in celebration of Martin Prest’s marriage to Katie, on the following day in GG church. Michael Prest also rang and David and Sheila P made up the family four with Sheila and me completing the band. Both Martin and Michael are former ringers at the tower.
We have rung the 120 on three occasions now, and eight of our ten regular ringers have now completed this. And this secular ringing brings me to the point…. Church bells are no only to be rung for church services, although that will remain a key objective for ringers. Bells are loud instruments and can be used to advertise and celebrate all sorts of other events too. Bell ringing is an art, a science and a sport and we should be encouraging and training people to continue this centuries old activity.
The first bell ringers didn’t use to ring only for church services. They rang for local, national and civic events for which they were paid. Ringing developed in our major towns and cities where men rang for excercise. It was a sport to them and they often rang in competitions. By the late 19th century the church was concerned about the arrangement that ringers had (and singers in the west gallery by the way, who were also paid), and belfry reform was introduced which tied ringing in with worship in a closer way than ever before.
This was fine at the time, and into the 20th century. Even up until the mid century the link seemed to be inextricable. Then, something began to change. Church congregations slowly dwindled and young ringers bacame more difficult to find. Ringing in many churches declined, and is still declining as we try to find a solution to the recruitment problem.
But, ringing is not in decline overall and there are many young ringers now taking on the challenge of learning change ringing. New teaching techniques developed by the Association of Ringing Teachers is raising the profile, and technology in and out of the tower is making ringing much more relevant and interesting.
Above all, modern communication helps us all to keep up with ringing achievements and developments in the UK and throughout the world. And “communication” is a key word. We should be letting our communities know when we ring and why we are ringing. We should maintain a tower social media page and a website to reinforce our message that ringing is successful and enjoyable. We should build and maintain close links with our churches (PCCs and incumbent) to support their mission and help them to understand our goal in building change ringing as a nationally recognised activity which benefits the church and whole community.
We have been doing this in the Gransdens for some time and will continue to build on our strengths and presence in our village. Thank you to everyone for your support.
Further reading, which prompted my writing this update, and which details at length the history of change in church bell ringing, can be read in Michael Foulds paper written in 2015, called Change Ringing in the Future