During the late 2000s, the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers (SDGR), to which Edington church is affiliated, offered support to set up Ringing Centres within the Salisbury Diocese. Aspirations going back 10 years before then were revived and an effort was launched to create a Ringing Centre within the Devizes Branch of the SDGR.
Edington was chosen as the best location as it had a large, roomy belfry, easy access for silencing the bells, car parking, kitchen facilities and toilets. With the help and encouragement of the local ringers, their enthusiastic tower captain Dusty Millier, financial support from the SDGR and the support of the Reverend Graham Southgate, the Ringing Centre soon became a reality.
The Ringing Centre was officially opened on 2 January 2010. Following a service of Thanksgiving and Dedication the President of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers, Mr David Hacker, declared the Ringing Centre at Edington Priory Church officially open. During his address he paid tribute to the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers for providing the funding of the resources and looked forward to this new training resource being made available to all ringers. He then handed over to Mrs Christine Purnell, the Devizes Branch Training Officer, who set out the aims of the Ringing Centre, which are to promote and improve the standard of ringing in our area.
To compliment the afternoon’s activities, tea, coffee and biscuits were available throughout the day. The Guild’s Saxilby simulator was on hand to demonstrate the action of a bell and how it is controlled by the rope. Experienced ringers gave a number of demonstrations from basic rounds to complex methods and those present were impressed by what the newly installed bell simulator system was able to do.
On 30 January 2010 Sue Smith from Dorset came and ran a ‘Teaching the Teachers’ course with many Branch members attending. It was during the Easter holidays that year that things really took off when experienced ringers came and taught several youngsters and some adults who volunteered for a two week intensive training course.
The Ringing Centre has continued with the support of Edington church officials to ring on two Wednesdays out of every three (when there is no local practice) offering beginners’ “Learning the Ropes” with many learners from the branch attending. There is also a monthly training course for Branch or Guild ringers on the second Saturday of each month. The ten bells are occasionally rung with the local ringers for special services and quarter peals and peals have been attempted for special national occasions.
To achieve its aims, the Ringing Centre:
- Offers a high quality teaching experience, using where possible the Integrated Teacher Training Scheme (ITTS), and follows the Learning The Ropes programme.
- Provides a learning experience for new bell ringers in a safe environment. (The Ringing Centre meets the requirements of the Edington Church Safeguarding Policy which is displayed in the Church porch.)
- Improves the learning experience of new recruits.
- Encourages, inspires and motivates.
- Offers an opportunity for continuous learning.
- Develops a recognised centre of learning for bell ringers.
What some of the ringers say:
Jane and Maz, from Corsley, said, “We enjoy coming to the Ringing Centre because we receive expert tuition from extremely patient and helpful teachers; we also pick up lots of tips from experienced ringers.”
Hannah, aged 13, who has been ringing for seven months, said, “It’s great because there is always someone who can stand with you to give you support and advice.”
Some of the ringers in action:
The ringing simulator (for the technically minded!):
The Edington bells have been adapted in such a way that they are able to be rung so that only the ringers themselves can hear a simulated sound within the confines of the ringing chamber. The components of how this is achieved are as follows:
Clappers are tied
Before ringing commences each bell’s clapper is restrained by attaching a custom made wooden jig to each bell that prevents the clapper from striking the bow of the bell. Of course, if the bells are to be rung for Sunday service or a special occasion such as a wedding, then this is dispensed with to allow the bells to sound normally.
Mounted on the bell frame by each bell is a bright LED light and photo sensor. This detects a reflective patch stuck on the wheel of the bell. This patch is positioned to give a signal when the bell is mouth downwards. An electronic circuit then delays the signal until the bell is at the point in its swing when the clapper would strike the side of the bell.
Abel multi-bell interface
The photo sensor of each bell is connected to a central junction box (the Abel multi-bell interface). The multi-bell interface uses a small microprocessor to rapidly scan the photo sensor inputs and, when an active one is detected, it starts a timer. Once the timer has reached its limit, a command is sent via a single serial cable that passes through the belfry floor to the ringing chamber below.
Abel for Windows
The serial cable is connected to a PC in the ringing chamber that is running ‘Abel for Windows‘, a popular ringing simulator application. This converts the signals into real bell sounds that are heard through the loudspeakers installed in the ringing chamber.
If you would like to learn more about church bell ringing or maybe take up learning the ropes then please contact your local tower. You should be able to find somebody near you from this web site or at http://www.bellringing.org/contact/. Failing that, follow the sound of the bells. They can’t hide!
Many thanks for reading about the Edington Ringing Centre.