Leiston: Bell ringers recreate brothers’ finest hour

IT was a name that did more than ring a bell 100 years ago.

The Bailey brothers, of Leiston, were known as one of the finest bell-ringing bands in the land.

The achievements of the eight brothers – who rang at St Margaret’s Church – have gone down in legend among the bell-ringing community.

And on Saturday, a group of modern-day bell ringers recreated their finest hour, almost 100 years to the day.

It was on October 21, 1911, when the Bailey brothers – aged between 15 and 36 – completed a full peal in just under three hours at the church.

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It was a unique and landmark event as it is believed no other set of brothers have ever formed a complete bell-ringing team.

A century on, and using the same bells, an eight-strong group from the Suffolk Guild of Ringers got into position to replicate the peal as best they could – although there were no brothers involved.

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The band, aged between 17 and 76, finished the full peal – which takes in 5,024 changes (or turns of the bells) of Bob Major – in two hours and 51 minutes before heading for a celebratory drink at the Engineers Arms pub.

There was also a poignant link between the two teams as Adrian Knights, one of Saturday’s eight, is believed to be one of the last surviving bell ringers to have been taught by a Bailey brother.

Mr Knights, 64, was brought up in Leiston but now lives in Needham Market. He was taught to ring bells by Ernest Bailey and on Saturday he played the sixth bell – the same position that his tutor took up in the family team 100 years ago.

Richard Munnings, who conducted the band, said: “It went perfectly, although we were in need of a drink at the end.

“It was a nice way to mark the achievements of the brothers. They were experts at handbells as well and were so innovative with their methods.”

The team was completed by Diana Pipe, Tom Scase, David Stanford, Alex Tatlow, Mike Whitby and Brian Whiting.

The effort was accompanied by an exhibition at the church celebrating the achievements of the Bailey brothers while quarter peals were also rung at churches in Theberton, Saxmundham, Kelsale and Southwold to mark the occasion.

For more information about the Suffolk Guild of Ringers, go to www.suffolkbells.org.uk

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