News 2019

December - A Successful Quarter to further ensure Christmas Ringing!

The 5th of November was a very busy evening for the bell ringers this year, although remembrance of the gunpowder plot and lighting of fireworks was left to more junior members of our families.  The date was actually that set for our annual general meeting (AGM) and also fell within the quarter peal fortnight, when all towers locally are asked to attempt as many quarter peals as possible.  That being so, a quarter peal involving six of our ringers was attempted from 7.00 pm, with the AGM for all the ringers to follow at 8.00pm.  A quarter peal is approximately 45 minutes of non-stop change ringing involving at least six ringers all changing the position of their bells at each blow without making a single mistake.  Bell ringers can regard themselves as qualified ringers once they have successfully completed this challenge.

On the 5th, Julie, who began learning to ring three years, successfully completed this challenge and will now be registered as a qualified ringer.  So the first item on the agenda of the AGM was a hearty congratulation to her on her success, with a photo for the archives and a celebratory hot drink with parkin and treacle toffee as the meeting progressed. Julie’s success is timely in that it is at the AGM that we generally check we have enough ringers for all the bell ringing that is required over the Christmas period at All Saints.

Julie can now involve herself with greater confidence in all these calls for the bells at Christmas.  We want to ensure a good service to the congregation at All Saints over the Christmas period and not least to the more junior members who may know Clive King’s (he wrote Stig of the Dump) poem called Bells for Christmas.  It is about how Mr McCann the toy shop man, Sandra Twirl the checkout girl, Red-headed Roy the butcher's boy,

Amelia Fife the farmer's wife, Mr Proctor who drives the 'copter and A. N. Other (guess who?) manage to get through the snow to ring the six bell peal which will wake the village for Christmas.  We can say with some confidence that we will be ringing in Christmas Day and wish all the congregation and local residents a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.

A recording of Bells for Christmas is available on:

Ann Cossavella

November - The Theatrical Use of Bells

Three members of our tower are also regular theatre goers at Bingley Little Theatre and during the recent excellent performance of “The Passionate Woman” we all noticed the pealing of bells during the wedding scene.  We felt they sounded very like our bells and our ringing and were very pleased to have been used in this way.  However, a check with the sound engineer told us that he had taken the sounds from an application, which is used frequently by theatre groups.  This lead us to reflect on other times when we have been asked to provide the sound of bells.  The “Follow the Fleece” production, performed in our church, asked for the sound of our bells and our Tower Captain was approached to toll the bell at Harewood for a recording of a funeral in the “Emmerdale” soap opera. 

More broadly, ringing or tolling bells are often featured in murder mystery and detective series with bell ringers being murdered in episodes of the Midsummer Murders, Father Brown and Agatha Raisin.

Most famous of all is “The Nine Tailors” by Dorothy L. Sayers and here the Bingley Tower may be able to claim a link, the character of Hezekiah Lavender in the book bears a more than striking resemblance, in many aspects, to the
real life Bingley bell ringer, church sexton and ringing master for over 20 years - Hezekiah Briggs (1764-1844).

We are pleased that our bells have been sourced for use in more secular aspects of ringing and hope to be approached in the future for others – that is as long as it does not involve any of us becoming murder victims!

Ann Cossavella

October - A Nonagenarian helps us reflect on the past, present and future.

A very regular visitor to our Tuesday practice nights is a bell ringer from St Oswald’s Church in Guiseley.  Jeff Cooper is a ringer with over 70 years of ringing experience and in the Spring he celebrated his 90th birthday in various ways, including a cake and a drink with the All Saints’ Ringers.

This month Jeff has brought with him to practice, far more than his ringing experience, he has had a book published. The book is autobiographical and covers the first 21 years of his life, from 1929 to 1950. It is set against the background of a life in Yorkshire, as many significant local, national and international events took place.  It also takes in Jeff’s lifetime’s dedication to bell ringing.

We have purchased a copy of the book for the bell tower and since its appearance it has proved a useful and informative addition to our practice nights.  Those “sitting out”, while others practice, have occupied their time reading from the book and for many of us it has given in depth information about the social history of the period.  The book is in danger of becoming very well thumbed and already falls open at the pages people have reached while not ringing.

In his forward Jeff hopes that “ ……jotting down what happened to me and my family in a very unsure and turbulent world will provide enjoyment for others ….”  It is possible that for members of our tower it will also provide a little hope and confidence in the future in our own “unsure and turbulent world”.  Jeff’s longevity, physical and intellectual health and dedication to tower bell ringing is an example to us all.  Long may he continue to visit us and we await his next book covering the next 21 years!

Cooper J.P. (2019)  Ee’ Bah Gum! Times Change.  Printed by Book Printing UK, Peterborough.

Ann Cossavella

September - A Big Birthday for our Social Secretary

We have recently had another big birthday in the tower - that of the tower’s social secretary, Solna.  Solna is a long-time member of the bell ringers’ team, having clocked up over 30 years ringing bells in Bingley and more than ten years elsewhere, since starting ringing as a teenager.  That is as far as we will go in actually revealing her age!

Important, for the tower and its team members, are Solna’s excellent organisational skills where tower trips, social events, fund raising and other celebratory and seasonal activities are concerned.  Her bell ringing skills are needed by All Saints Church and her organisational skills are needed for the excellent feeling of team membership amongst the ringers.

This month, it fell to the rest of the team and Solna’s family to organise her birthday celebrations.  The tower was decorated with balloons, bunting and banners.  A special card of bell ringing memories (including the photo above of her clasping a sally in the colours of her favourite football team!) was organised and signed by all the tower and handbell ringers.  A successful quarter peal, that is 45 minutes of perfect ringing, was rung to celebrate the day.  We did allow Solna to organise and manage this herself and she requested it be rung by an all ladies’ band.  It became the first successful, all ladies’ quarter peal in ten years.  The quarter peal was followed by cake in the tower and a celebratory visit to the pub after practice. (Editors Note -  No excuse is generally required for a visit to the pub).  The next week Solna’s family invited all the ringers to a surprise barbecue party, everyone somehow managed to keep it from Solna until she arrived at the party.

All told we felt we managed quite well without our usual organiser.  However, we would all be really clear in saying; “Many Happy Returns Solna” and long may you continue to organise our social events in the years to come!

Ann Cossavella

July / August - Bingley Ringers Win the Cup

We know that some 200 years ago the bell ringers of Bingley took part in several ringing and striking competitions and were on occasions successful.  Prizes in those days may have been a purse of money or barrels of beer.  Supporters and ringers were encouraged by local publicans, who may also have staked the alcoholic part of the prize pot in the hope of boosting their takings, while the competition went on!  The prizes must have been sufficiently lucrative to encourage ringers to travel some distance, on foot or by cart to take part.  A well-known Devon Folk song also implies betting on the outcome between the rival ringing teams and their supporters was not uncommon.  A serious business with plenty of high jinx on the way home, if the team were victorious.

On May 15th this year, Bingley Tower Bell Ringers took part in the annual, branch striking competition, held this year at Oxenhope.  In total five teams took part, t
wo of which were from Bingley.  Our two teams tied in joint second place overall, but we are pleased to report that the less experienced “call change” team, ringing more simple changes, won the “ Call Change Cup”.  Although this is probably not as momentous a win as those of our esteem forebears, we are proud to have achieved this honour and title for the year.  We feel it is an achievement, particularly as two members of the team had never competed before and one has only been learning to ring bells for about a year. 

Nowadays the primary reasons for organising striking competitions are to improve the standard of ringing, and to encourage socialising between towers, with cups, shields and certificates as prizes.  We were very pleased to receive the cup, and in a nod to our forebears, then retired to the local pub to celebrate our victory, with a feeling of satisfaction, if not high jinx on the way home.

Ann Cossavella

June - Our Spring Trip to North Yorkshire and the East Coast

The Bingley Bell Ringers’ spring trip this year was via North Yorkshire, working our way to the East Coast.  The group was made up of 12 Bingley ringers, seven friends from other towers and non-ringing family members including a mum, two wives, one husband and two grandchildren on their first ringing trip.  The weather was not very kind to us and the further east we got the colder, damper and greyer it became, but it did not spoil an excellent weekend of ringing and sight-seeing as we progressed.

We started with the bells of Easingwold, a Mouseman mouse is to be found in the brightly decorated church here.  Our next tower was Hovingham.  Here we found an excellent, monthly, local produce market running and so, there was more than enough to occupy our non-ringers.  Our stop for lunch was Kirkbymoorside, with enough time to ring the town bells before eating at The Kings’ Head.  We were served an excellent, well-prepared meal.  Over lunch ringers and non-ringers, who wished to, took the opportunity to take part in a sweepstake - it being Grand National Day.  We then moved on to Middleton and then to Pickering with our non-ringers grabbing a quick look at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Station in the town.

The weather in Scarborough was damp and cold.  The church is on the hill above the town and the misty weather made visiting Anne Bronte’s grave in the graveyard quite atmospheric for our non- ringers.  We came together after ringing to listen to the results of the Grand National.  The youngest member of our group, and grandchild of two of our ringers, being the lucky winner, having selected Tiger Roll.  She won enough to treat grandma and grandad and big brother to ice cream on the beach in Whitby next day. 

On Sunday we joined the local band at St Mary’s Whitby, (the Abbey Church) to ring for the Sunday Service.  Our group photo was taken in the tower here, without Count Dracula, who a notice in the church makes absolutely clear is a fictional character and not to be found associated with the church!

Ann Cossavella   

May - Our Youngest Ringer Qualifies

On 12th March, we had something to celebrate in the bell tower.  Our youngest ringer, Daniel who is under 16 years of age, qualified as a member of the Yorkshire Association of Change Ringers and we are all very proud of his first major achievement in bell ringing.  Daniel began learning to ring less than 18 months ago as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and being a strong and fit lad, with an agile and receptive brain managed to qualify at his first attempt to do so.

To be eligible for election to the status of Qualified Member of the Yorkshire Association a ringer must have successfully rung a method of 720 changes on either a working bell or the treble; or on the tenor covering to 1260 changes.  Daniel chose the heavier bell and the longer number of changes, ringing Plain Bob Doubles, covering on the 6th bell for 1260 changes continuously without a single mistake.  This requires each of the six ringers, including Daniel, to concentrate fully for 45 minutes without a break. 

As a qualified ringer Daniel will now help out with wedding ringing, which will be a relief for some of our older and less agile ringers.  As Daniel has proved he can handle the 6th bell without any problems, we hope he will graduate to ringing the heaviest 8th bell very soon and in time for the spring and summer wedding season.  We feel we have gained greatly from his success and we are sure that earning wedding ringers’ fees over the season will also be a great gain for Daniel.

Once again well done Daniel!
Ann Cossavella                      

April -The Pancake Bell

This piece is being written in early March, the week in which we must remember to arrange who will ring the “Pancake Bell” at 11.00am on Shrove Tuesday, it being on the 5th March this year.  We are pleased to note that a Pancake Party is due to be held at Church House at 6pm on that day, which fits in nicely with our regular Tuesday ringing practice at 7.30pm, some of the ringers will mark Shrove Tuesday by attending and partaking in pancakes at that time.

Information from Karl Grave’s excellent book “Yorkshire Tails – The Story of Bingley Bells and Ringers” (2012), tells us that in the 1800s and earlier a bell was rung in many towers at 11.00am on Shrove Tuesday morning to signal to local people to make pancakes.  This bell prompted using up all perishable foods before the onset of Lent.  The tradition still survives in Bingley, in no short measure due to the efforts of Dorothy Winup in the early 1950s, she was the first female ringer in the tower and became the first female tower captain, among her many services to bell ringing in Bingley was that of making sure the tradition survived to the present day.

The Pancake Bell is rung for five minutes at 11.00am and the bell used is the 7th bell.  One ringer will undertake this task this year as usual and we hope the local community will notice it, even if they are unclear as to why it is being rung.  In the 21st century, school, full –time working, refrigeration and ample time pieces make the bell an unnecessary prompt but nevertheless a reminder of the days when church bells were involved in practical and functional tasks performed for the local community.

Acknowledgements – Grave.K. (2012) “Yorkshire Tails – The Story of Bingley Bells and Ringers” The Whiting Society.

Ann Cossavella

March -Thoughts of Spring – Cleaning and More!

February and early March are the time of year when we begin to plan our annual Spring Clean of the tower stairs, ringing room and bell chamber, seeking or “strong arming” ringers to volunteer for a half-day of washing walls, sweeping stairs, polishing metal and glass and vacuuming the carpet and soft furnishings in the ringing room.  We are very proud of the fact that the tower always appears clean and welcoming to visitors and have received praise, when our bells were last professionally inspected, for the cleanliness of the bell chamber i.e. no dead pigeons, pigeon or bat droppings or excess dirt, dust or dead insects under the actual bells themselves.

However, there is only so much brightening up a spring clean can achieve and this year we will need to consider some repairs and refurbishment in the ringing room.  The repair of crumbling plaster on one wall and the replacement of a somewhat old and oil-stained carpet would be our priorities, and we will discuss this with the PCC in due course.

As spring approaches, alongside spring cleaning we begin to focus on the new batch of weddings and as part of this will probably be welcoming visiting ringers from other towers to support us.  This year we are also hoping that our trainee ringers, recruited through the “Ringing Remembers”  initiative, will be ready, willing and confident enough to ring for some of these weddings.  They may not be aware of it yet, but we also hope they will be ready and willing volunteers for the spring cleaning duties!

Ann Cossavella

January / February - Copious Christmas Lists with One Ghostly Curiosity.

December is the month when our tower is festooned with copious lists concerning the Christmas Season.  First we receive the list of the Church’s Christmas Events, from church office, with dates and times when the bells should be rung.  Soon after we check the church diary for school or community carol services for which ringing is not required,but which we may disturb should we hold a ringing practices.

This year involved four extra sessions and the cancellation of three ringing practices as there was a school carol service and also both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on Tuesdays.  Then up go several blank lists which ringers are asked to initial to indicate their availability to ring for each occasion.  We also hold an annual Christmas Quiz and Bring and Share Buffet on one of the Tuesday evenings in December, when the church is being used for other events and we initial a list food and drink we intend to bring to the buffet to avoid too many mince pies or sausage rolls!  We also initial a list of those able to attend our annual dinner, which is provisionally booked before Christmas but, held on the last Friday in January.  In addition this year, to comply with General Data Protection Rules, we had to indicate on a list individual permission for our names and details to be listed in the Yorkshire Association Handbook for 2019.  So lists galore. 

Interestingly on two of the lists for Christmas ringing, the ghostly initials C.A. appeared; these are not the initials of any bell ringer known to the Bingley Tower.  We waited with curiosity and anticipation to see who it might be – but no additional person appeared.  This has led to much speculation about who these initials belong(ed) to, to remembering past ringers or to anticipating ringers yet to come.  On reflection, such thoughts are quite fitting as the year turns into January, with its faces looking back to the old year and forward to the new. 

We hope it will be a happy and a healthy one for all.

Ann Cossavella