Forty Eight Hours
The Bells, the bells....
By Chris Bennett
When those church bells ring out on a Sunday, have you ever stopped to wonder who's ringing them? Hundreds of people across Sussex and Surrey practise the art of campanology - find out more.
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The next time you hear church bells, stop and listen just a bit harder.
It might seem that those bells always sound the same, but in fact they are often playing different tunes.
First, you can often hear a bell pealing. The ringer - and most church towers have a set of ringers - are pulling on the bell rope to make the bell to move bacwards and forwards to strike the clapper. This is the kind of bell-ringing that you'll hear on Sunday before a church service.
Fans of Hemingway or Clint Eastwood will know the second sort of bell ringing - the toll. Here the bell is rung by a rope tied to the clapper. You'd hear this at a church funeral; it's a solemn sound.
Just to make this all a bit more complicated, there are also different sorts of peals. Change ringing, where bells are rung in different sequences, is the most popular sort of peal ringing.
The sequences have names which smack of Olde England - Plain Bob Major, Grandsire Doubles, White Nile Treble Bob.
If you hear church bells ringing for a long time, then the bell ringers are practising their changes. The order that the bells are rung in changes in every sequence, so a seven bell change can take up to three hours.
So what is it about bell ringing that gets people together every Sunday? We went along to a gathering of ringers in Ringmer - yes really - and they told us why the bell tolls for them....
last updated: 22/08/07