First developed in England, the practice of ringing church bells has been used for centuries to call people to worship, to celebrate happy occasions, commemorate important events – or simply for the enjoyment of hearing their sound.
In Adelaide, the beautiful sounds from the church bells at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral can be heard throughout the city streets each Sunday morning at 10.30am, and earlier at St Peter’s Cathedral, St Cuthbert’s and St Andrew’s.
The Adelaide Bellringers group, which is responsible for bell ringing at the five ringable bell towers of Adelaide (which includes the Town Hall), is currently on the lookout for new members and says that most people would meet the necessary requirements.
“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to ring a bell as it is all about technique and timing,” said St Francis Tower captain Hannah Tayler.
“I describe bell ringing as an art and a science and if you can count then you know all the mathematics you need to be a change ringer.”
Worldwide there are about 40,000 ringers in more than 6000 towers, with the Adelaide group comprising about 20 members who range in age from 14 to 90. Members have diverse backgrounds and there are no pre-requisites in terms of musical ability or religious persuasion.
Ms Tayler said her own introduction to bell ringing came at the age of 12 when she learnt the art for about six months while growing up in the United Kingdom.
“I never thought about it again for 40 plus years until my partner and I were back living in London for a two year period in 2015 and were looking for a social pursuit,” she said.
“A long term family friend suggested we take up bell ringing and it was one of the best things we have ever done.
“As well as being mentally stimulating and challenging, it is a team activity, provides good exercise and has a strong social side.”
Ms Tayler said bell ringers were able to try their skills at churches throughout the world and Adelaide often welcomed ringers from interstate, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. Likewise she has rung at churches overseas and described having the opportunity to ring at Southwark Cathedral in central London was a “special” moment for her.
Unfortunately, the art of bell ringing is not widely known in Australia’s diverse multicultural society and the number of local ringers has dwindled in recent years.
“So we are now looking for new members to take up this fun, enjoyable, inexpensive and all-weather activity,” Ms Tayler said.
“Adelaide is in the fortunate position of having probably the most advanced training centre in the world. The Adelaide Bellringers have a number of experienced teachers who will teach new trainee ringers to learn on special dumb bells and these can be linked to computer simulators to fast track individual learnings and skills.”
If you would like to learn more about becoming a bell ringer, contact email@example.com
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