Ever wondered what all that noise is on a Sunday morning as you’re walking in to church? The activities up the tower are often a mystery to most congregation members as the hub of activity is very well hidden from the main body of the church building.
What is actually going on is an art form which has been practiced in churches across the country for centuries to call people to worship – the art of bellringing!
Bellringing in the UK is unique as it uses a full wheel system which allows you to swing the bell by 360 degrees between balance points, therefore giving you full control of when the bell strikes. This is very different to ringing on the continent where bells are simply swung and the ringer has no control of when the bell will next sound.
Having this control of the bell allows different patterns/tunes to be rung. Some performances can last 5-10 minutes (typical of a Sunday morning) right through to 4 hours (or even longer) for those who have the stamina to do so. The rules on what patterns can be rung and in what order are extremely strict and complicated, so as well as the physical demands of ringing a bell non stop for 4 hours there is also a strong mental demand.
St Mary’s Battersea has 8 bells, the heaviest of which weighs just under 3/4 of a tonne (about the same size as a small elephant). We’re opening our doors for you to have the chance to come and explore this mysterious world and see what we get up to. There will be demonstration rings, a chance to have a go on our new state of the art virtual ringing facility, history about when the bells were first installed at the church and pioneering first performances, more information about ringing across the land and in London and finally most importantly refreshments!
Our open day will be after the 11am Eucharist on Sunday 18th June and we would love to see many of you there!