Inveraray Bell Tower
Fyne Bells, Fyne Views

The type of bellringing called change ringing originated in England in the 16th and 17th century. In change ringing the bells are swung 360° using a rope and wheel with one ringer per bell. The rope runs round the wheel and hangs down into the ringing chamber below. Each rope has a coloured woolly part called a sally which is where the ringer catches the rope. Using the rope the ringer can control the bell.

Change ringing bells can not be used to play ordinary music. Because of the time it takes for a bell to rotate full circle (about 2 seconds) each bell rings a fixed rhythm which cannot be easily altered.

In change ringing each bell is struck once before any of the bells strike again. Once all the bells have struck this is called a change. If there are eight bells with the lightest bell ringing first (1) through the to heaviest bell (8) the result is:

  Bell Ringers ringing the Bells

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Where bells follow each other in sequence this is known as rounds.

By adjusting the speed the rope is pulled it is possible to alter the speed of the bell. By ringing the bell faster you can strike your bell before the bell that was in front of you in the previous change or by ringing slower you can ring over the bell that was previously behind you. The following shows each adjacent pair of bells changing places:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
2 1 4 3 6 5 8 7

A method is where there is a sequence of changes and no change has the same order of bells. If the changes are written out with each one underneath the previous one then a pattern is created. Methods always start and ends in rounds. The simplest method is called Plain Hunt and is shown here with 6 bells:

1 2 3 4 5 6
2 1 4 3 6 5
2 4 1 6 3 5
4 2 6 1 5 3
4 6 2 5 1 3
6 4 5 2 3 1
6 5 4 3 2 1
5 6 3 4 1 2
5 3 6 1 4 2
3 5 1 6 2 4
3 1 5 2 6 4
1 3 2 5 4 6
1 2 3 4 5 6

The maximum number of different changes that can be rung on five bells is 120, on six bells it is 720, on seven 5,040 and on eight is 40,320. The number of changes rung at one time without stopping defines the different types of performances. A Peal is where there are 5000 or more changes rung. At Inveraray this takes about three and half hours to ring. A Quarter Peal consists of at least 1250 changes and take just under one hour. Currently most performances at Inveraray are peals.

 


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All Saints Episcopal Church, Inveraray is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, number SC025646