The Bells of Bradpole
Church bells are a part of England’s essence. For centuries they have called people to worship, to celebrate, sometimes to mourn; they ring out the old year and ring in the new; half muffled, they call the nation to remember at Armistice Day. Ringing is a ministry, reminding people that the church is there for them; many ringers experience a vivid sense of continuity with the past, especially in the older towers. For many it is also a hobby bringing pleasure, travel, fellowship and a growing circle of new friends.
Because of the way they are hung (full circle), the swing of English bells can be controlled in either direction and the changes can be methodical where continental bells cannot. The art of ringing, therefore, consists in learning to use this control to produce a good sound. No great strength is needed but like other instruments bells demand a high level of commitment. There is a good recording of Bradpole bells on You Tube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpSj6q-ufwM); the piece is a Quarter Peal, at least 1260 changes, and takes over 45 minutes but you don’t have to listen to all of it. Another You Tube item, Summer Steeples by Peter Hayward (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNieLnnR-0w), was inspired by our bells and features a short video of the Ringers at work in 1995.
Bradpole has had bells at least since the sixteenth century. A fine ring of eight was established in 1911 and rehung in 1981. For details of the bells and ringers, please refer to Heard But Not Seen by Ivan Andrews (available in Bradpole Church).
The Bradpole schoolmaster of 1910, Thomas Hervey Beams, worked tirelessly until about 1930 to improve ringing in West Dorset. With others, he set up the West Dorset Branch (some 25 towers) of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers. It would be fair to say that Mr Beams’ enthusiasm still inspires and drives Bradpole – not so much ‘to be the best’ as to promote the art and to help people who want to learn and improve.
Bradpole Tower practice is from 7.30pm – 9pm each Tuesday. 8 bells, ground floor ring. Ringing takes place for Sunday services, weddings and other special events during the year. Visitors always welcome. Contact: Wendy Carnell (Tower Correspondent) on 01308 420716.
After the church extension project of 2003 it was possible to launch a Ringing Centre at Bradpole; with the aid of modern technology we can practise whenever we wish without disturbing the neighbours. The Centre is active in providing training for ringers from West Dorset and from further afield.
On Wednesday 11th April 2018 The Society of Royal Cumberland Youth rang a full peal consisting of just over 5,000 different changes. The Society was founded in 1747, and although many of it’s activities are based in London, the membership is national and worldwide. Eight members – five from Dorset and three from Hampshire – took part to ring the peal, involving about three hours of continuous ringing.