June - The 250th Anniversary Celebrations of the First Peal on All Saints’ Bells, Bingley - Sunday 22nd April 2018 

The same day was rung at Bingley, by six ringers, seven Treble Peals, containing 5040 changes, complete, in two hours and forty minutes”.

Leeds Intelligencer 12th April 1768

What a full and enjoyable day the tower bell and hand bell ringers had last month at the 250th celebration day.  We started by ringing before the Service, watched by the Chair of Bingley Town Council and her colleague. As we had hoped a bell theme then ran through the whole service and included a special poem, appropriate hymns, readings by our ringers and pieces played by the hand bell ringers and the junior hand bell team from Trinity All Saints’ School.  We enjoyed an excellent, humorous and supportive address and sermon by the Bishop, showing his impressive background research on our bells and the bell ringers past, present and recruited for the future.

In general we felt the church had done its bells proud, and it was a pleasure to see the large congregation swelled by a number of past ringers, ringers from other local towers and special guests.

After the service refreshments and celebratory drinks were abundant, alongside our historical display, souvenir buns, biscuits and a tombola.  Visitors had a go at ringing the Wombel, and our tower tour encouraged the Bishop to climb up to the bell chamber to take a good look at the action of bells as they were rung.  

We ended the day with a successful quarter peal rung on six bells.  The 45 minutes successful ringing, can be compared to the original 160 minutes of successful ringing, undertaken by the six Bingley ringers of 1768.  This great achievement by an all Bingley Band of Ringers, so many years ago, deserved such a day of acknowledgement and celebration by the church, its current ringers and their communities.  Our thanks go to everyone involved.  We feel it was both a thoroughly enjoyable day and a fitting remembrance of our 18th century predecessors’ great achievement.

Ann Cossavella / Solna Burnham

May - In Celebration of our Bells

One of our ringers is also a very talented and award winning poet.  She was asked to create a poem to celebrate the anniversary of the bells and this is to be read at the service of celebration on the 22nd April.

We are so proud of it, of her and of the bells that we thought it would be worth making it our piece for May. We hope you enjoy reading it.

In the louvre-filtered half-light, there’s a drowsy sense of rest.

Outside, a distant fluttering from a cantilevered nest.

The waiting bells hang gently as their ropes fall soft away

Through the plump-lipped bosses to the room below and the bright light of day.

There’s a creaking sigh of comfort as ancient heart-woods sink and settle,

And the hypnotic tick of clock gears as oiled metal slips through metal.

Up through the cool stone walls comes a sudden stirring shiver,

The door below is flung wide and the air begins to quiver;

The sound of footsteps rises round the twisting cochlear stair,

With laughs, and laboured breathing as the ringers gather there.

The tethered ropes are loosened and their sallies bob and play.

A low command, they tauten, and the bells begin to sway.

Their open mouths yaw sideways in an ever-widening arc,

Each clapper starts to beat the rim upon its self-gouged mark.

Back and forth above the bells each cartwheel pulley saws

To the point of upright apogee and a chance to “Stand!” and pause.

Deep within the belfry the insistent echo hums,

With a breath-held expectation as the call to “Look to!” comes.

The exhilarating freefall and then the slower climb,

Scything through their backstrokes then steady just in time.

“Hear us! Oh hear us! The alchemists made us sing.

This is what we live for, Listen to us ring!”

The grumbling tower rocks and swings like a ship upon the waves

And conducts their urgent message down to the churchyard and the graves.

“Oh hear our exultation all of you for whom we’ve tolled;

The rich, the poor, the frail, the strong, the foolhardy, the bold.

Oh hear us, for we’ve celebrated royalty and feast,

Armistice and marriage day and happiness and peace.”

The tidal clamour surges round the rooftops of the town,

And when all have heard the message there’s an order to “Ring down!”

The flying bells are gathered in and cease their strident clang.

Sinuous ropes are looped up high to the hooks where they always hang.

The ringers’ receding departure is marked by a banging door.

The harmonic humming dies away. The All Saints’ bells are quiet once more. 

Ann Cossavella (with thanks to our resident poet)

April - Planning for Sunday 22nd April 2018

Our preparations for our 250th anniversary celebration of the first peal on the bells, on Sunday 22nd April 2018, are now getting under way in some detail.  We are forming a small planning group to bring together both tower and hand bells ringers for the celebration.

Invitations are being prepared, we are seeking out appropriate pieces to be included in the church service, planning refreshments, thinking about souvenirs of the anniversary and most importantly are listing ways in which the bells themselves can feature prominently on the day.

As usual we will ring before the Sunday Service from 9.45am to 10.30 am, but would like to extend a particular invitation to anyone who is interested to come up to the ringing chamber and watch us ring the bells – we can accommodate about six people at a time.

The service will include readings, many on a bell theme, read by our ringers and pieces played by the hand bell ringers.

After the service we will provide refreshments and a display about the history of the tower and hand bells.  We also hope to provide an opportunity for people to have a go at ringing the Wombel, which is a frame containing a “mock” bell, which gives one the feel of tower bell ringing. Tours of the tower will also be offered if there is sufficient interest.

In the afternoon we hope to imitate one quarter of the success of the ringers of 1768 by ringing a quarter peal on the bells.  If completed this will be approximately 45 minutes of continuous, melodious and successful ringing, involving 1260 changes.  This compares to the 160 minutes of continuous, melodious and successful ringing, involving 5040 changes undertaken by the Bingley ringers of 1768.  To put this in perspective, while current members of the Bingley Band have rung some 67 peals as individuals in different churches, since the year 2000, there has not been a successful peal in All Saints, Bingley, by an all Bingley Band since 3rd February 1901.  This is why we feel that this great achievement by an all Bingley Band of Ringers, so many years ago, deserves a day of acknowledgement and celebration.

We do hope that as many people as possible will join in our celebration and the congregation will be swelled by a number of past ringers and special guests.

Ann Cossavella

March - Calling Past Bell Ringers And Their Descendants.

Along with many other groups nationally and those associated with All Saints, Bingley, the tower bell ringers must give some attention to new data protection rules which come into place in May 2018.  These rules require consent from anyone on whom we keep personal details for contact and communication purposes.  It is one of those odd coincidences that as we are required to become more protective of details of current ringers, we are actively trying to locate past ringers through old records.  Why so?  We are now beginning to plan our 250th anniversary celebration of the first peal on the bells.  This will take place on Sunday 22nd April 2018,  beginning with a specially themed church service, to which the bishop and other dignitaries are invited.  This will be followed by a social event and activities related to bell ringing at All Saints since 1768.  As part of this we would like to welcome back as many ex-bell ringers and the descendants of as many past bell ringers as possible.   

Local bell ringer, Karl Grave’s excellent book “Yorkshire Tails – The Story of Bingley Bells and Ringers” gives us the names of all known ringers from the past.  We will now put some effort into tracing forward to find any living descendants of these men (generally speaking, it use to be a male dominated past time).  In addition we would hope that some current church members, reading this, may know the whereabouts of some of our ex-ringers and ringers’ descendants, if so we would be very pleased to hear from them using the contact details below.  

As required, in terms of 21st century data protection, we are happy to state that: “we will not use contact details for any other purpose than to extend a very warm and sincere invitation to our up and coming celebrations!

Ann Cossavella

January / February  - The Bells Reverberating, Mellow, Sweet and Clear

Throughout December, those who live anywhere near the centre of Bingley have been exposed to the daily noise of tree felling on the St. Ives Estate.  The sound of power-saws, chippers and the crash of trees, as they fall, has been a daily background noise, which has carried up and down the valley.

This has led us to reflect on how far the sound of All Saints’ Bells carry and indeed if denuding the valley side of some of its trees will affect that sound.  As usual over the Christmas period we have rung for additional church services and community celebrations.  We have reports that under certain weather conditions, over that period, the bells have been heard on Druid’s Altar, in Eldwick, at Beckfoot and occasionally in Castlefields.  John Nicholson the Airedale Poet (1790 - 1843) was fond of the bells and often remarked on the extraordinary echoing of the bells, caused by the hills which rise steeply near the church.  His descriptive poem “Airedale” contains the lines; 

“While the sweet bells in tuneful changes ring,

When ev’ry tone the echoing wood receive,

And thus delightfully the ear deceive,

Reverberating, mellow, sweet and clear,

As tho’ a far more dulcet peal was there.”

We intend that the bells will continue to reverberate, mellow, sweet and clear throughout 2018, which is their 250th anniversary year, and hope that there is enough left of the “echoing woods” to carry the sound 
throughout the parish.

Ann Cossavella