The bells ring out for national competition
New band of bellringers is offering to show people the ropes
The bells of St Mary’s Church, in Old Amersham rang throughout the day on Saturday when teams of expert ringers converged from all over the country to take part in an eliminating round prior to the National 12 Bell Competition in June.
The eight teams of 12 came from Exeter, Towcester in Northamptonshire, Southwark Cathedral in London, Cambridge, Oxford, the University of London, Birmingham and the newly formed local band, which has been practising hard at Amersham since the summer.
Each team rang the same piece and the aim was to not only do this without clashing but also to get the 0.2 second spacing between the individual bells absolutely correct, with perfect rhythm and a steady beat.
The two judges were hidden away in the Vestry with a sound feed from above the bells plus two specially designed computer systems – HawkEar and the Strikeometer – which produced the statistics on evenness of ringing.
There was plenty laid on to amuse those not actually ringing including walking tours guided by volunteers from the Amersham Museum.
The event even featured on Treasure Quest on BBC 3 Counties radio.
The local ringers also supplied vast quantities of bacon baps, tea and cake and the pubs did not quite run out of beer – although the landlord of one was very concerned when all the pub customers walked out – apparently someone had shouted ‘It’s 4.30pm, time for the results!’.
Although the newlyformed Amersham band produced its best performance to date against very stiff opposition, it was not among those going forward to the final.
Not downhearted after being complimented on organising such a successful event, its members will be delighted to explain this ancient art with a modern twist at a free taster session. Ringing usually takes place on six, eight, 10 or 12 bells, with considerable accuracy being required for the higher numbers.
There are more than 7,000 churches in Great Britain which have a ringing peal of bells, of which just 132 have 12 bells. Eliminators also took place in All Saints in High Wycombe and St Laurence in Reading on Saturday.
To book a free bell ringing taster session at St Mary’s in Amersham visit www.amershamringing. org.uk.
The bellringers of Amersham would be delighted to introduce people to this ancient art