medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Well, you can tell I am out of my period. 'Full peal' clearly means something specific that I'd overlooked. The records by the late C17 merely indicate that more is being paid to the bell ringers for some occasions than for others: I'd assumed that meant more bells were being rung (is that not a 'full peal'?), but I suppose it could mean they are being rung for longer, and I also suppose, now you mention the subject, that neither tells us whether or not change ringing is taking place?
 
All fascinating stuff, and thank you Anne and Jane for your contributions. But also very interested to read anything on the roots of this idea of ringing for secular events, which was the thrust of my enquiry. Were pre-reformation bells rung for such events? Do we know which such events?  

Jon
 
http://joncannon.wordpress.com/
 
 

 

Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2015 23:36:50 +0000
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [M-R] occasions for bell ringing
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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

I very much doubt if the bells would have been rung for a ‘full peal’ in modern  terms.  To achieve this you would not only need the bells hung ‘full circle’ that is so that the bell could rotate through nearly 360 degrees and the ringer control precisely when to ring their bell; but you would also need a ‘method’ to ring, and these were not developed until after the Civil Wars. [For the record this year St Peter Mancroft celebrates the 300th anniversary of what is probably the first true peal of 5040 changes on May 15th ]

 

‘Full peal’ in those days would have meant something akin to the call change ‘peals’ that are so beautifully rung in Devon.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czJZVuhFcio has the classic ‘sixty on 3rds’ on handbells plus the typical ‘rise and fall’ before and after the ‘peal’ that would be expected on tower bells.  There are other call change sites with the clip.

 

Mid-16th bell hanging technology only used half or ¾ wheels which would not allow the bell to be swung through most of a circle or allow the degree of control desirable. 

Hanging bells for ringing full circle was a very new technology at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and was probably evolving through trial and error, and the fear of a tower collapsing was very real. The ‘better sort’ of Lacock pointed out that an augmentation at Chippenham had meant that the churchwardens had to begirth their Steeple with a wooden frame about it.  Presumably their complaint was written before the following disaster:

April 21st 1628 being the year in which Calne Tower and steeple fell being a Tuesday about 5 o’clock in the afternoon 

No wonder the ‘better sort’ of Lacock, not six miles from Calne, and only three from Chippenham were worried.  In 1639 Calne tower collapsed again, shoddy building work being blamed.  The tower and spire at Chippenham were rebuilt in 1635 for a total of £475 

In 1638 the churchwardens at Warminster recorded:

Memorandum that in the yeare 1638 the tower of the church . . . was slat [ie cracked] and when the bells were ringed the slatts did open and shut which was very dangerous and in tyme might ruin the tower if it had not been

prevented & the materials and doing thereof cost about ffourteen pounds

[Devizes St John cracked some years ago and I can tell you that there is nothing so alarming as watching a crack in the tower open and close as you ring.]

 

  A central tower [as at Warminster and Calne] is much more vulnerable to the forces of ringing, and a young child recently exclaimed that Bishops Cannings was like a ‘ship at sea’ when the bells were ringing.

 

The website http://www.bellringing.org/history/ is probably a good place to start

 

 

 

One of the most curious entries I found for celebratory ringing was a regular one for All Hallows day at Broughton Gifford in the 18th century.  Old custom retained, or a new one?  I have not seen it in other Wiltshire accounts of the period

 

 

 

 

Anne

 

 

PS  Out of period, but if anyone is really interested I can let them have a chapter on Wiltshire Bells 1559-1642

 

 

 

 

From: medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jon Cannon
Sent: 01 February 2015 21:04
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [M-R] occasions for bell ringing

 

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture



I'm working on some English post-Reformation churchwarden's accounts, for St Mary Redcliffe, in Bristol. I note that in the mid-C16 bells are rung at full peal for major events such as a royal coronation. 
 
Does anyone here know whether such practises, ie the ringing of the bells to mark 'secular' events, has medieval roots, and any good literature on which kinds of events where rung for before the Edwardian reformation?

 

For information, at St Mary Redfciffe by the C18 the bells are rung for a range of annual events, as well as commemoratively for major historic turning points: -- examples of the latter include the Gunpowder Plot, the restoration of Charles II, or the Coronation day of the reigning monarch; of the former, the annual arrival of the judge to the city on his circuit, etc. They are also rung for one-off events such as a major military victory or the birth of a royal child. Some trouble is taken to calibrate the scale of the peal to the significance of the event. 

Jon
 
http://joncannon.wordpress.com/
 
 
 

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