The first room we come to is the ringing room. This is where the bells are rung. The bells themselves are in the belfry two floors higher, so they are not particularly loud.
The Ropes come through holes in the ceiling. In the picture on the left they are not in use so they are hooked out of the way under the table. More commonly there are hooks or clamps mounted on the wall. If you visit a Church, never pull on the ropes unless you are invited to do so by a qualified bell ringer.
The ringers stand in a circle during ringing as you can see in the right hand picture. Other ringers who are standing or seated wait their turn to have a go.
When the bells are being rung, the furry thing known as a "sally" shoots, through the ceiling boss, the weight of the bell is quite able to lift a grown man off his feet. Ringers are taught how to handle a bell safely without being lifted off the ground.
It may look funny in a TV Advertisement but in reality it is far from a gentle. It is no fun as the movement is very rapid. Firstly you hit the ceiling then have to drop back to the floor further injuring yourself. So please don't interfere with the bell ropes and wait to be shown how to handle a bell.
It is common to find peal boards attached to the walls of the ringing room recording special occasions both pleasant and sad when the bells were rung. A peal is defined as being 5000 or more changes rung without repeating the same sequence of bells. All peals on these boards are for 5040 changes. This takes around 3 hours depending on the weight of the bells. It is the equivalent of a marathon for bell ringers.
This peal took place on June 9th 1776, the year of the American independence. This is the first peal in this Church by a local band of ringers.
The unusual surname of the 3rd Ringer has enabled his date of birth to be established, he was 21 at this time of this peal.
Coming more up to date, this board records a peal rung on Monday 3rd January 2000. To welcome the new Millennium. Throughout the country, Church bells are rung to welcome in the New Year at Midnight but as the Millennium was a special occasion justifying a peal. This was rung a few days later when everyone had got over the very late night.
The peal board on the left at Belbroughton from March 14th, 1931 is on an ornately carved wooden board bearing the name of this Association.
The names of the ringers are shown against the bell number they rang during the peal. Number One (or the Treble) being the lightest bell and each rising in weight as the number increases ending with the tenor having the heaviest weight and the deepest note.
The board from 1897 records a peal rung to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (60 years) of the reign of Queen Victoria. (1837 to 1901) As the Monarch is the head of the Church of England it has become a custom to ring the bells for Royal Weddings, funerals and other special occassions. A tradiation we keep up today but often the bells are rung for a shorter period of time rather than a Three hour marathon.
Peal boards are not the only things you may find on the walls. Photographs of the band of Ringers or Certificates from Bell Ringing competitions are quite common too. Some ringing room contain the clock mechanism, but in this tour, the clock is in the room above us.
In some ringing rooms you may find an Ellacombe apparatus that enables a single person to ring all the bells. All the bells must be in the down position before the slack in the ropes is taken up on the frame. When the rope is pulled a hammer strikes the bell. The apparatus allows hymns and carols containing a limited number of notes to be chimed as it isn't possible to create tunes when the bells are rung full circle.
In the eighteen hundreds, Rev. Henry Ellacombe is alleged to have fallen out with his bell ringers and designed this mechanism so he could do the job himself and dispense with their services.