More bell-ringers needed - as church re-creates brothers' famous peal
- Credit: Archant
An appeal is going out for more people to train as bell-ringers - as two performances at a Suffolk church mark a special centenary.
The two marathon bell-ringing sessions at St Margaret's Church in Leiston, on August 25 and September 1, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of an amazing peal of bells by the town's Bailey brothers.
It is hoped the performances will help to inspire more people to take up the pastime, after Suffolk saw a significant fall-off in numbers following lockdown.
Many church bells were silent for up to 18 months, and were only allowed to be rung again from July 19.
Suffolk Guild of Ringers ringing master Katharine Salter, from Ipswich, said: "Bell-ringing, like many things, has been hit hard by the pandemic.
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"We need more people to come forward and we can arrange training for them, maybe even in their local church.”
On August 25, 1921, six brothers from the same family, the Baileys, rang a continuous peal of more than 5,000 different rows, or patterns of bells, on 12 hand bells.
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The Baileys were a prominent Leiston family, with a total of 11 brothers, nine of whom worked at Richard Garrett and Sons engineers.
They included outstanding footballers and various brothers were quoits players, gymnasts and in the Territorial Army.
Six of them, Allen, Frederick, Ernest, Charles, James and Edgar, took part in the original event.
Katharine, who is writing a book about the history of the Suffolk Guild, said: "The method they rang, Stedman Cinques, was generally only rung in metropolitan centres where they had a strong band and a 12-bell tower.
"To work up to and complete this was a significant achievement. It is more notable as this was a single family effort in rural Suffolk.”
A Suffolk Guild band will ring a peal on the church bells at Leiston at around 10am on Wednesday, August 25.
Then a visiting band, led by John Loveless, originally from Bures, will ring a handbell peal of Stedman Cinques, like the original, in the church at the same time on September 1.
On that occasion, there will also be a small exhibition about the Bailey brothers and a chance to find out more about taking up bell-ringing.
In 2011, a previous special event was held at St Margaret's Church to mark the centenary of another famous peal by the Bailey brothers, when eight of them completed a full peal in just under three hours on October 21, 1911.
Rowan Wilson, chair of the Suffolk Guild of Ringers, who is based at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: "We are so pleased to be able to mark this centenary with two performances.
"The lockdowns have been a challenging period for bell ringing, but I'm hopeful that ringers from across the county are now feeling more confident to get back to their local towers."
She added: "We need more people to come forward. Some will have retired and others will have found something else to do.
“It has become quite an elderly pastime and we need to get some younger people involved.”
To find out more about opportunities in bell-ringing, go to the website.