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Church bells ringing the changes, is a quintesential English sound. There are typically 5-12 bells [1]. Each bell rings a different note, and a peal is generated by ringing the bells in different orders (‘ringing the changes’) following a mathematical pattern. While church bells are heard worldwide, the art of change ringing (camponolgy) is almost unique to England and is only possible because the bells can ring “full circle” – see video below. 95% of peals in the World are in Anglican churches in England [1]. The bells are used to call people to prayer, for special occassions such as weddings or just for practice

Logistics and location

1. There are a vast number of churches where change ringing can be heard. Dove’s Guide for Church Bell Ringers has a vast, comprehensive list which includes ringing times and a handy search by postcode facility.

2. Bow bells are one of the most famous in the world. They appear in the medieval nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons, summoned Dick Whittington back to London and even help determine whether you are a Cockney (you need to be born within the sound of the bells). The bells are still regularly rung (website).

3. Whitechapel Bell Foundry is Britain’s oldest manufacturing company, and have cast such famous bells as the Liberty Bell and Big Ben. It runs tours on some days.

4. London sound survey has about 10 church recordings if you want inspiration of bells to hear in London.

Sources

  1. Map thumbnail amandabhslater (c) some rights reserved
  2. http://www.icons.org.uk/nom/nominations/churchbells
  3. Sound acclivity (c) some rights reserved