Heritage Open Day Around The Guild

All Saints bell ringers team up with the National Trust Heritage Open Days

On Thursday 14th to Saturday 16th September the Cockermouth bell ringers held an open tower event. The 2023 Heritage open days theme was along the lines of ‘influential People behind the arts’.

With the aid of displays, videos, models, talks and demos visitors were offered an hour long experience.  They heard how King Henry VIII unwittingly contributed to the development of full circle ringing and how publisher Fabian Stedman influenced the art of method ringing.

Children coming to the event were offered bell related craft activities, puzzles and colouring sheets.  The  guild hand bells provided an opportunity for adults to try their hand at rounds and call changes; whilst the children were invited to ring nursery rhymes on our coloured children’s bells.

A visit to the ringing room gave people the chance to see and hear the bells being rung.  With the aid of cameras in the bell chamber, the ringers demonstrated the interaction between ringer, rope and bell.

Of course no bell ringing experience would be complete without pulling a rope.  All who  ventured up the 44 spiral steps were rewarded with a chance to try back stoke and those who were too young the chiming of a bell.

Overall the event was very successful with 58 adults and 17 children attending.  Of those 7 adults chose to not go upstairs for personal reasons and chatted with the ringers downstairs who shared more personal bell ringing experiences and videos.  Our visitors gave the event a very international feel, coming from places as far and wide as America, Europe, Ukraine, Scotland, Ipswich, Essex, West Yorkshire, the Midlands, Liverpool, Manchester, Whitehaven, and of course, more locally, Cockermouth.

We can safely say the art of full circle change ringing has been well highlighted, with good feedback.  We trust and hope that not only will Cockermouth benefit from our event but other towers in the country, such as Manchester and Liverpool, will also gain new interested ringers from our event.

A huge thank you to those guild members who gave time to join us on Thursday and Friday, to the guild for the loan of the hand bells, and especially to the Cockermouth/Bridekirk team of ringers for making this such an enjoyable and successful event.

Diana Green

HOD at Barrow

Barrow took part in the Heritage Open Days this September with a wide and varied programme detailed at northbarrowchurches.org.uk/hod-2023

The bells featured strongly with learn2ring sessions for 4 people on the evening of Friday 15th September and two people on the Afternoon of Saturday 16th of September, including a lapsed ringer who had been to Ulverston a week earlier and wanted to brush up before hopefully starting to ring regularly at Ulverston, and Katie Hallows (daughter of Rachel and Carl at Dalton) keeping ringing going in the family!

The Saturday morning had two tower tours which were quite popular and at least one family of 4 signed up to say they wanted to learn.

We will be following up all interested people from November with aim to get a few more regular ringers.

At lunchtime we rang a quarter peal as a demonstration with people able to watch on the live video stream downstairs

St James the Great, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria

Saturday, 16 September 2023 in 49m (12–0–24 in F)

1260 Plain Bob Triples

1 Rachel Hallows
2 Clarissa J E Caroe
3 J Andrew Pollock
4 Cameron Pollock
5 Jacqueline Preston
6 Andrew Painter
7 Iwan Cotgreave (C)
8 Owen B Osmotherley
Rung as a performance for Heritage Open Day 2023

Thanks to everyone that helped out, the day was a great success!!

Andy Pollock

Heritage Open Day at the Cathedral

Saturday 16th September saw the return of the annual Heritage Open Day event at Carlisle cathedral during which members of the public were given the opportunity to take a tour of the bell tower.

Members of the cathedral’s band of bell ringers acted as guides to show people, not only parts of the cathedral not usually open to the public but also to demonstrate and discuss the skill of English full circle ringing.

These tours are always popular and this year was no exception. 42 people, young and old, joined us over the course of the day. All enjoyed climbing the stone spiral staircase, getting up close and personal with the angels and our beautiful starry sky ceiling via the clerestory, as well as glimpsing the unique view down the nave to the altar from the tiny window in what is affectionately known as ‘Sandy’s Passage’.

However, it was the business of the ringing room that was the real order of the day. Visitors were treated to a brief history of the development of full circle ringing and exactly what is involved in the work of a bell ringer. This included an explanation of how modern technology plays an important part in the development of this ancient art: a demonstration of the use of the computer simulator in teaching novice ringers without disturbing the neighbouring businesses and residents!

There was also an opportunity to visit the belfry and see the cathedral’s modern ring of 12 bells [13 including the sharp second!] as well as the more historical bells which have now been retired save for occasional use as service or clock bells.

It was lovely to see some ringing passions reignited and possibly some newly kindled. One gentleman rang a bell for the first time in 40 years and was thrilled to discover he was still able to manage it. Muscle memory really is a thing!

The younger generation also got to have a go and had great fun chiming the tenor bell and swinging on the rope…under strict supervision of course. Hopefully they will remember their experience with the bells and perhaps take up ringing in the future.

As well as informing and entertaining, these tours are always useful for recruitment. Although the cathedral is not actively recruiting at this time we certainly hope to encourage ringers for towers across the diocese (and even beyond). We had a family who had moved up to Penrith and were lapsed ringers keen to have another go as well as a gentleman (also a lapsed ringer) who expressed and interest in joining in at Brampton.

As ringers we know very well how much fun and satisfaction there is in what we do and how fortunate we are to be able to experience a hidden side of our beautiful cathedral but, somehow, seeing the genuine wonder and enthusiasm of others on their first encounter with it all, really reaffirms the joy of being a bell ringer.

Sally Nicholson