Holy trinity church, stapleton
"Church bells beyond the stars heard"
(by George Herbert, from his poem ‘Prayer’)
Church bells are, and have been, used for many purposes, for example: to call the congregation to church; proclaim a happy event such as marriage; as a warning; as a final salutation to the departed. Many feel their spirits lifted by the joyous ringing of church bells, no matter what troubles they may have in their lives. The clarity and purity seems to touch us as no other sound does. To produce this sound, however, requires a dedicated and knowledgeable team of bell ringers.
Most churches have peals of between five and eight bells, although there can be more in larger buildings such as cathedrals. At Holy Trinity, Stapleton we have six bells. Each bell has a different tone and varying when each is rung, according to a ‘pattern’ or ‘method’, produces the melody. A ‘pattern’ is the order in which the bells are rung and a ‘method’ is a number of ‘patterns’ put together to form a more complex sound. Bell ringing can be a most satisfying exercise, even for those who are not musically inclined, and there are thousands of ringers throughout the country who will testify to this.
So, what do you need to be a bell ringer?
Well, if you are willing to learn how to ring a church bell, are enthusiastic, and can attend practice once a week fairly regularly, that’s about it. Bells are rung mostly for Sunday Church Services, and, although you are welcome to go to the service, there is no requirement that you attend it.
One myth that can be exposed is that you have to be exceptionally fit: it’s simply not true. Everything is in the technique. (The only strength you will need is in your legs to climb the stairs to the bell tower!)
You do not need any special skills to become a very good ringer and certainly do not need to know anything about music.
Holy Trinity Church, Stapleton, has ten ringers at present and they are always ready to welcome new people who want to join them. We are lucky to have a very sociable team, everyone is always willing to help one another, and this is evident in the practice sessions held every Wednesday from 7.30pm to 9.00pm in the belfry. There is a good mix of experienced ringers and those who are learning. The techniques that you need to start will be passed on freely and it’s up to you how fast you progress.
Interested? Our Tower Captain Mike Purnell will be happy to welcome you and provide a practical introduction to bell ringing. You can contact him via the Parish Office, tel.no. 0117 958 5556, or click here to e-mail.
If you want more general information about bell ringing this website for the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers will help: www.cccbr.org.uk/.
News from Stapleton Steeple
Bell ringers are a diverse bunch, drawing in children and adults from around 10 years to old age and with men and ladies in equal numbers. Stapleton's bell ringers are no different. We ring for Sunday morning services and weddings and we practice on a Wednesday from 7:30pm.
Bell ringing provides moderate exercise for both the body and the mind - it is much less strenuous on both than you might believe. We like to think we are a sociable bunch as well. Several times a year we spend a day visiting other towers for ringing and regularly team up with other bands to improve our ringing or for social events.
Our most recent trip was to the Swindon area where we rang at 5 different churches. We also have a steady stream of visitors and have recently welcomed ringers from around Redcliffe, Mangotsfield and Yorkshire.
For the more mechanically minded we maintain our own bells in the belfry. Stapleton's bells are beginning to show their age, regrettably accelerated by the poor repair of the steeple. We have managed to keep the bells ringing through self-help maintenance although a major refurbishment will be needed in the coming years.
Stapleton has a good band of ringers and we are always looking out for new recruits of any age. It takes only a few months to literally learn the ropes. This opens the door to a hobby and service to the church community that can last a lifetime. If you would like to learn more then please contact Mike Purnell via the Parish Office by telephone or e-mail to arrange a first visit to the steeple.
Editor's note: we thank Mike and his fellow band of Ringers for the pleasure they give to people in the parish and look forward to hearing more from him in the coming months.
A peal of six:
1 : Treble : 1872
2 : Undated
3 : Originally 1669 (From the first Church) Recast 1990 by Taylor’s of Loughborough
4 : 1792 (From the second Church)
5 : 1792 (From the second Church)
6 : Tenor : 1845 (From the second Church)