WAR TIME RINGING III (National).
Ringing World Vol 39, Iss 1726, p161-2,
TWELVE MONTHS AFTER.
Twelve months ago to-day an order was issued by the Minister of
Security which ordained that 'no person shall in Great Britain sound
any church bell except for the purpose of summoning persons to worship
on a Sunday, Christmas Day, or Good Friday.’ Worded as a prohibition,
it was really a permission; for it ended the long silence which for
more than three years had been imposed on bells and had been broken on
two brief occasions only. A month later the new order was rescinded,
and ringers recovered completely their former freedom from official
interference. Now that a year has gone by it is as well to take stock
of the situation.
When the war came, and still more when the ban was imposed, the
outlook for ringing was very dark and doubtful. At the first it seemed
possible to do no more than keep a small amount of ringing going to
serve as a nucleus round which change ringing might again be built up
when peace returned. When the ban was imposed there were great fears
that in perhaps the majority of places the art would simply die out,
with very feeble hopes of revival within any measurable time.
The expected did not happen. The imposition of the ban, though
it put a stop to most of the ringers’ activities, did not weaken the
Exercise to anything like the same extent that the outbreak of war did.
That caused permanent loss; the ban caused not much more than a
temporary cessation of activity. Here we have a great cause for
satisfaction, for it shows that there is at the centre of the Exercise
a hard core of men whose devotion to ringing is proof against all
changes and adverse circumstances. The outbreak of war had already left
them practically alone and the ban did not to any extent diminish their
numbers. It is on them that the future of the art depends, and since
their loyalty is assured, the defection of the many whose interest in
the belfries sits lightly on them is of no more than temporary
It is proverbally true that men do not know how much they value
some things until they lose them. So it was with the people of England
and their bells. We know now that church bells have not lost their old
appeal, and any harm we may have suffered through the ban has been more
than compensated bv that knowledge.
The past twelve months have given ringers great cause for
satisfaction and thankfulness. The loss caused by the war has been
great and it will be long before the Exercise recovers its old strength
and activity. But we know it can be done. Almost everywhere there are
already signs of revival and growing activity, and two things
especially encourage us to hope for the best in the future.
One is the large number of young recruits that have come to the
belfry. They have had exceptional opportunities, for bands are depleted
and there is much more room for newcomers. But even so an exceptionally
large proportion of these young ringers have proved themselves of more
than average ability. It were invidious to mention names, but at
Enfield and Birmingham and elsewhere there are those who may be leading
ringers of the future.
The other good sign is the great sale of the leading text books
on ringing. That means that the best available information is being
widely spread among the newcomers, and it cannot but have an excellent
effect in the future years.
Taking all things together we may conclude that the Exercise is
alive and healthy, and we need not doubt that the effort necessary to
re-establish the art will be made when the time comes and will be
End of Article