This has been written for anyone who is not familiar with the terms used in our posts above to make them more meaningful as with most rules there are always exceptions but in general terms these are the meanings and words we commonly use.
In Holy Cross tower there is a ring or peal of 10 bells. The tenor or heaviest bell sounds the note of Eb, E flat and weighs 18-3-11 that is 18 hundredweight, 3 quarters and 11 lbs. [958 kg]. They are tuned in a diatonic scale from the treble bell, the lightest to the tenor the heaviest so Holy Cross third bell is an octave above the tenor.
English church bell ringing is unique in that we can control the speed at which the bell rings rather than a random chime when the bells are mouth down as done on the continent of Europe and elsewhere. The English system is often referred to as full circle ringing. The bell is paused balanced mouth up which enables us to control the speed of the bell. The bell has two strokes looking at the bell from one side from the mouth up position it rotates 360 degrees say clockwise to mouth up again, on the next stroke it will rotate 360 degrees anticlockwise to mouth up again. The two strokes are called hand stroke and back stroke. The bell can be pulled in two different directions by the way the bell rope is wound round a wheel attached to the bell. When the ringers have the fluffy bit, the sally in their hand this is the hand stroke when it is the tail end of the rope in their hand it is the back stroke. We ring with the bells up but leave them mouth down when ringing finishes for safety reasons.
We start off ringing in rounds from the lightest which can be any bell depending on the number being rung, in a musical scale. Ringing should also finish in rounds.
This can get pretty monotonous so ringers change the order by telling specific bells to ring in a different order. This is called call changes and is noticeable with each change row repeating several times. A change row is every bell ringing a hand stroke or back stroke. We prefer method ringing where the ringers remember their place in a change row by a pattern. For instance the third bell may strike in fifths place in a change row and immediately in sixths place in the next row then sevenths etc. etc. All methods end up back in rounds for a simple method on 5 bells this is after 40 change rows for more complex methods on 12 bells this can be after as many as 528 change rows. To extend or shorten any performance two or three bells can be changed around by bobs and singles which are called by the conductor while ringing and it is his/her responsibility to see no change row is repeated when ringing on higher numbers. The conductor usually has a C after their name in a recorded performance.
The standard achievement for a ringer is a peal of method ringing. I hasten to add that many ringers never achieve this level; it’s a bit like a bell ringing Marathon. On medium weight bells such as Daventry it takes about 3 hours and consists of at least 5000 change rows with no pauses or big mistakes.
The next level is the quarter peal or quarter for short which is quarter the length of a full peal i.e. 1260 change rows and takes around 48 minutes at Daventry
Both the above performances are recorded in the Ringing World our weekly magazine. [https://www.ringingworld.co.uk/].
Anything shorter is a touch and this is what we ring for Sunday services and practices.
Finally ringing half muffled bells is a sign of sadness; we do this regularly on Remembrance Sunday at Daventry. It is achieved by tying a leather pad on one side of the clapper so the back stroke sounds muffled. The effect is an open change row followed by a muffled change row.
Holy Cross has an excellent ring of 10 bells with an 18-3-11 cwt. [958 kg] tenor in E-flat. There is also a light simulator hung in the ringing room for teaching and practice.
The ring was rehung in 1965 and fitted somewhat lower in the tower from the original anti clockwise 8 and 2 new bells added. At the same time the old carillon and clock was dismantled, and replaced by an electrically driven mechanism. The old carillon parts are still in the bell chamber.
The tower has an enthusiastic and friendly band of ringers, and usually enjoys strong practice nights.
image from the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Sunday Service Ringing 9.20 to 10.00 am
Practice Night Tuesday 7.30 to 9.00 pm. (Not Holy Week, and occasionally some holidays).
At either of these times we welcome visitors interested in seeing what goes on up the tower, lapsed bell ringers and anyone who feel that they might like to learn to ring. Bell ringing is suitable for all from about the age of 11 to well into retirement. One to one tuition can be provided at any time. There is a short spiral staircase to the ringing room.
Group visits can be arranged if so desired.
Visits can generally be arranged on Friday nights and Saturdays and sometimes also on Sundays. We ask for at least a months’ notice.
A limited number of peals can be arranged on Saturdays, for which we ask for at least a 3 months’ notice.
There is a disabled toilet on the ground floor.
The church is located in Church Walk, just off the Market Square. Post code NN11 4BL See also main Church location tab [Find us]. There is generally reasonable free parking near the Church in the evenings and weekends.
Richard Waddy (secretary): to email click here
John Neale [deputy tower captain] 01327 702160 or to email click here