After 28 silent Sundays

This morning, for the first time since the spring lockdown, Stepney bells sounded before Sunday service. The last regular ringing had taken place Sunday 15 March. 

Socially distanced full-circle ringing with a 15-minute limit is not really practicable with bells as heavy as Stepney’s to raise and lower. However, equipped with Ellecombe chimes on the back eight, Stepney has a stand-by alternative though it needed some TLC: accustomed as we are to ringing full circle every Sunday pre-lockdown, the Ellecombe has been disconnected for several years. Following a full inspection, maintenance and reconnection by Steeplekeeper Julian and Assistant Steeplekeeper Éva, it’s easier to ring now than ever it has been.

Éva and Elizabeth took turns ringing this morning for the 10am service. Huge thanks to Julian and Éva for looking after the installation so expertly.

The bells are barely audible in the gallery before the organ overwhelms them entirely. Can you identify all the named changes just by watching the orders of the ropes? We like the matching face mask and wellies!

An idea to keep church bells ringing during this important time

Like most ringers, I am already missing ringing church bells with my band. I am especially sad that bands may not be ringing bells around this country for months. The sound of bells is important to those who ring them and to those who appreciate hearing them. So I had in idea. I approached the rector at St. Anne’s Limehouse (London), about ringing by myself before the normal Sunday service time. St. Anne’s is a short walk from where I live so I don’t have to use public transportation to get to the church. I plan to ring the service bell for 15 minutes and then chime on all 10 bells, one by one. The rector has approved and welcomed my plan. My hope is that ringers around the country can continue to ring the bells at their local church. In fact, we may be able to mobilise ringing at many more churches than those normally rung by bands, as we now just need one person per church to ring the bells. Please reach out to your local church and ask to ring before the normal Sunday service. Who knows, your ringing may inspire many new learners, when COVID-19 is no longer impacting the health of our family, friends and neighbours. I believe that we can help our communities as we continue to ring the bells. Ring locally, dear bell ringers of the UK!

Christmas Day Ringing at Southwark Cathedral

After ringing at Rotherhithe on Christmas morning, five of the ringers then went on to Southwark Cathedral.  We had received a call for help a week before as so many of their regular ringers were away.  We were able to make up the band to ring rounds and call changes on the front 8 and then the back 10.  Piers rang the 48cwt tenor (perhaps his best Christmas treat ever) and the bells rang out joyfully to welcome people to the Choral Eucharist.  The Dean of Southwark Cathedral also came up to welcome us and led us in prayer before the ringing.

Ladies come together to ring for Christmas 2019

It wasn’t planned or intentional, but by coincidence, the band ringing Christmas morning at Stepney was all female and – yes – we rang the back bells as well as the front 6. Many warm thanks and well done to Minmin, Josie, Chris, Helen, Elizabeth, Trisha, Éva and Sue. Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year to all!

Stepney Xmas Ladies

The band ringing Christmas Morning 2019 at Stepney