The tradition of bell ringing Devon style looks set for a bright future thanks to Chagford Bellringers.
Dartmoor National Park Authority has given the bellringers of St Michael the Archangel, Chagford, £1,900 from its Parishscapes Grant Fund so volunteers can train ringers of the future and preserve a unique piece of our heritage. The funding went towards a second, lighter, training bell so younger ringers can learn the ropes and experienced ringers can keep improving their skills.
Chagford’s bell-ringing tradition dates from 1480 and the team specialises in the unique Devon ‘call-change’ style of ringing. This tradition emphasises rhythmic ringing in simple musical sequences, with the changes being called by a conductor, and it also places great emphasis on rising and lowering the bells together in peal.
Because this knowledge is passed on verbally, it is vital to its continued survival that healthy numbers are maintained so people can pass expertise down through the generations.
In 2017, the church bells were rehung following a major refurbishment project which saw the bells removed from the church for the first time since the First World War. Following the work, Chagford Bellringers launched its Ringing the Changes campaign to attract new ringers and continue the Devon call-change ringing tradition. As a result, they have successfully installed one training bell, a ringing simulator and other equipment to help with training and practising.
On hearing the good news regarding the grant, the Tower Captain Jon Bint said: “We’re hugely grateful for Dartmoor National Park’s assistance in helping us get this second training bell. It is already proving its worth.
“With the importance to our vernacular ringing tradition of rising and lowering bells in peal, being able to learn to ring a bell up and down easily right from the early stages of training is a massive help.
“It’s been good to spend time training with ringers individually, at their various levels of experience, and work on technique by learning to properly handle a light bell. This second training bell completes our 10-bell simulator set-up, which will enable more experienced ringers to practise 10-bell ringing in an 8-bell tower – social distancing permitting, of course!”
Just recently, the group recruited more local adults and children and it is hoped the extra training facilities will enable more to join its growing ranks.
Aside from service ringing Chagford Bellringers rings bells for weddings, funerals and national remembrance days honouring those who served in the Armed Forces to defend the nation’s democratic freedoms. The group also holds popular tower open days and visits for local primary school children.
If you would like to no more about bellringing or have a go just contact Jon by email through firstname.lastname@example.org