The Bell Ringers of Lydiard Tregoze

By Claire Dukes - 28 September 2017

Community

By Claire Dukes

Up high in the bell tower of St Mary’s Church, sounds the chimes from the Lydiard Tregoze Bell Ringers.

Since 2009, the ringers have been gracing the Lydiard area with their musical methods.

The oldest bells in the tower were first cast in 1635, but it wasn't until the 1960s that bell ringers started pulling the strings.

The bell tower houses six bells in total with the heaviest, the tenor, weighing 550kg which was cast in 1701.

The lightest bell, the treble, weighs 200kg and alongside the remaining four was part of the rehanging at St Mary's which took place in 1964.

As seen in period dramas, what one could expect are the bells to be grandly swinging high above whilst the group perform. However given the extrodinary weight of the bells, over the course of the years, this medieval style of practice raised concerns over the ringers' safety.

Nowadays, a frame sits directly above between the bells and their ringers. Needless to say, Quasimodo's antics in Notre Dame would be extremely discouraged.

In 1920 the wooden frame at St Mary's was removed as it became rotten, and was replaced during the rehanging in 1964.

As well as composing methods, that captures the auro of Lydiard, St Mary's tower is deeply imbedded within national history.

Like most churches during World War II, bell ringing grinded to a halt and bells proceeded only to be rung as a warning during German invasions.

This act was entitled the ‘Control of Noise Defence Order’, introduced by Churchill in 1940.

In May 1945 the bells of St Mary, and the rest across the nation, were able to ring once again to mark the end of the war.

Leaping forward to 2017, it's safe to say the Lydiard Tregoze Bell Ringers are primarily about fun.

Despite strict regulations within some other Churches, the group at Lydiard are not required to have Christian persuasion which has certainly enabled their group to expand.

Bell ringer, Susannah Moore, said: “Mum and I learnt together on a trip out. It just seemed like a cool thing to do.

"It’s kind of addictive, and it’s a great way to get involved in the local community.”

Since joining Tregoze, Susannah has gone on to university and become a bell master of ‘Birmingham Universities Society Change Ringers’.

As well as their Tuesday night practices, the Tregoze bell ringers have been chiming across the country at competitions, weddings and church services.

Tower Captain and mother, Jenny Moore, said: “We always need more bell ringers. It’s such a nice hobby, and the competitions are getting bigger every year!”

From competitions and church services, to a gathering of like-minded people, Lydiard Tregoze is more than a quirky evening actvity.

Dena Osman said: "You make good friendships. Friendships that last forever. Most ringers have known one another for a lifetime.

"I met my partner through ringing. My best friends are all ringers, and we go on ringing holidays. I've been involved since I was last 17."

Nici Brown added: "I've always liked churches, looking at the architecture and learning about the history.

"With that I found out about the bell ringing."

Bell ringers by Tuesday night, come Wednesday the group disperse to their daily routines.

As such a bell-life balance is essential, which is another reason the group are more than welcoming to new memebers.

Jeff Owen joined Lydiard Tregoze in May and is  nearly at Sunday Service standards after four months.

Jeff said: "I heard about bell ringing on BBC Wiltshire for another tower, but I went to the wrong group, so I've been here since!"

Either way, bell ringing is extremely accessible, for those who just want to try it out for artistic leisure or for an unconventional gym session.

Jenny said: It feels like you've had a work out, but it's great for the bingo wings."

Should you wish to have a go at bell ringing, contact Tower Captain, Jenny at

jem277@yahoo.com

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