My family and other campanologists…
We have an old bell sally at home, tied to the balusters upstairs and hanging down into the hall. When I was still repairing violins, customers (children usually, but not exclusively) would ask what it was. When told, they would inevitably ask “Does it work?” and I really wish it had, just to avoid the look of disappointment when, following my invitation to try it, nothing happened. If I had been clever I would have rigged some kind of sound effect to it- maybe the Westminster Chimes, or a bicycle bell, or a car horn, or an explosion… dammit, it’s too late now, Kev!
This sally was given to Ruth by the tower captain of St Mary’s church in Lymm, Cheshire, where she learnt to ring. It was a leaving present when she went off to university and has been with her ever since. Ruth wasn’t the first bell ringer in her family. Her dad and her elder sister had been ringers in the lovely church of Stoke-By-Nayland in Suffolk, deep in Constable Country. Ruth had been too young, and so started after the family moved to Cheshire.
Ruth and I got married in Lymm. Before the wedding she took my sister Terry up the tower to introduce her to her old ringing companions and to see them in action. Terry was fascinated and took up the pastime herself, which in turn led her to meet Russell, who was and still is an avid ringer. They married. Inevitably their son Nick learnt to ring too, and now does so regularly at St Paul’s. He has rung the 4.06 tonnes tenor bell Emmanuel in Liverpool Cathedral single handed (it often takes two people to handle it) and is on a mission to ring all the heaviest bells in the country.
So you see how deeply campanology runs in my family, and why, though I have never rung a bell myself, my knee-jerk reaction to a Facebook posting about a petition to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry was to throw up my hands in horror, sign and share. But as is so often the way with social media there was more to the story, as this article makes clear. The foundry will be relocated if the current site is sold. However, the site is of historical significance so I’m glad I signed the East End Preservation Society’s petition and I’m happy to pass it on to you for consideration.