Tuesday 21st May 2024

Training Bells for Suffolk
Our Vision

St Mary-le-Tower.

A Bit of History

The significance of St. Mary-le-Tower’s architectural heritage requires no explanation, however its place in the development of the quintessentially English art of Change Ringing is significant.

The bells of St. Mary-le-Tower are amongst the best known in Britain and there was a time, particularly between the wars, when the St. Mary-le-Tower Society of Change Ringers was the most accomplished company in the land with their achievements including the first peals in the following methods:

Our Plan

Whilst we cannot reproduce such ground-breaking performances as our forebears, we are seeking to leave our own legacy in a different manner by bringing the art and science of Bellringing, and its place in the life of the Church, to the largest possible audience. Our vision is to enhance the teaching of Bellringing not only at St. Mary-le-Tower and the rest of Ipswich but also throughout the rest of Suffolk and surrounding area whilst maintaining the best possible environment for ringing excellence.

One important feature of our project is that there will be nothing to change the character of our bells. Their tone and character is an important part of our heritage and will remain unaltered.

Our vision is to create a facility by installing a peal of 6 training bells immediately above the ceiling of the ringing chamber.  These training bells, linked to computer audio facilities, would be used to teach every aspect of ringing from the first lessons of bell-handling to the early stages of change ringing.  These training bells would be available to offer top quality opportunities for the teaching of our art to both our own recruits and any other groups who would wish to benefit from use of them. They will also provide a facility for more able ringers to practice with no external sound, either as a band using the bells as a ring of 6, or using each of the six bells individually with its own dedicated simulator.

The project will create a facility which will see St. Mary-le-Tower once again at the heart of ringing development. It is widely acknowledged through the standardisation of ringing teaching techniques that a more modern approach needs to be taken to the teaching of ringing, particularly to bring an ancient art to a younger audience to enable its continuation and development.  Evidence from the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich demonstrates that such a facility is particularly successful in engaging with young people in bringing them to ringing and subsequently other aspects of wider church life. 

The Present Position

Following meetings with our own ringers and the SMLT PCC we now have a firm quote for the installation of 6 training bells by Matthew Higby & Co and have also obtained the necessary Faculty from the Diocese to enable the project to proceed. This leads us to the question of funding… We will need to raise a minimum of £30,000 by the end of the year to fund this project.

Funding

We have a number of avenues to explore for fundraising but initially we are seeking people and organisations who would be willing to either loan or gift money to the project to meet our immediate cash flow requirements.

Loans would be on an interest free basis and paid back once our finances permit. £500 would be great; more even better, but we would welcome loans of any size from anyone wishing to support the project.

We would be particularly delighted to receive gift donations though, of any size. Please Gift Aid if you are able. You can download the Gift Aid form by clicking here.

All payments should be made to the SMLT PCC bank account:

If paying electronically please use your Surname and the word “TBELLS” in your payment reference and email the Treasurer halmeakin@live.co.uk stating whether your payment is a gift donation or a loan. Should you wish to make a payment by cheque please make it payable to St. Mary le Tower PCC and send it to Hal Meakin, 27 Warwick Road, Ipswich, IP4 2QE again stating whether it is a gift donation or a loan.

We do hope that you will feel able to support this exciting project either by donating or joining us in our fundraising efforts. Perhaps both!

Keeping in touch

If you would like to be kept in touch with progress, please email trainingbells@suffolkbells.org.uk.