Readers of the British Weekly A world of sound The topic has long been occupied: there are not enough bell ringers for the approximately 38,000 church bells in the United Kingdom. But in the end no one was interested in it. Because even there people have little contact with the church. In addition to well-known scandals, the effects of the epidemic and the aging of society are likely to play a role. But now Charles III. Crowned in London on May 6, it was a problem. Because British tradition dictates that every church bell on the island must be rung on such an important day. However, in reality, hundreds of bell ringers are missing from the bell rope.
Now, of course, the objection might come from Germany: Oh, it’s automatic anyway. If a computer doesn’t actually take over a clock tower in a deserted British backwater, there will be someone pulling the strings once the golden metal garland reaches the silver hair at Westminster Abbey.
But it is not that simple.
Because in the 19th century, as a result of industrialization and the associated unemployment, poverty and drunkenness, a certain licentiousness, particularly among British bell ringers, was introduced by a group of clergymen who took turns ringing. This forces the bell ringer to focus and create its own Anglo-Saxon art form – in sonic integration with neighboring communities. In the joy of its variation, it is sonically more subtle than the fatal simplicity of bimmelpamel so common in Bavaria.
Thanks to this challenge, peace has finally returned not only to Britain’s bell ringers, but to most of the towns between the pubs and the sheep herds. Hence, since 1891, the “Central Council of Church Bell Ringers” (CCCBR) has been overseeing the high art of ringing. This advice is also given by the above mentioned central body A world of sound The consequences of the shortage of bell ringers had already been pointed out to the public last fall. But only now, weeks before the coronation, does the news seem to have gotten through.
After all: 1750 new bell ringers are said to have already complained to the “Ringing Teachers’ Association” as a result of an appeal. There, rope training took place for 20 hours. Thanks to recent online offerings and significant streamlining of the curriculum, things are now a little faster. How reassuring that, according to the CCPR, the number of investigations has now increased fivefold.
So, even in times of secularism and cases of disturbing the peace, there is still hope that ringing has a future. However, the BBC has tracked down Freyja, a 17-year-old high school graduate in Suffolk County who has no regrets about attending teacher Amanda Richmond’s elementary school. He said he met very nice people there. People ring to talk. And one on the CCCBR homepage promises: “Bell ringing is a group activity that stimulates the brain and helps keep it healthy.”
Against this background, it should be easy for the UK to operate all the free-swinging ropes in good time.
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