From the Ringing Chamber

St John's helps Catholic Cathedral
train band of bell ringers after 60 year break

Picture: St Marie's A new band of bell ringers from Sheffield's Roman Catholic Cathedral has been learning the ropes at St John's, Ranmoor.

The Cathedral Church of St Marie is one of only 50 Catholic churches in the world with bells designed for English full circle ringing.

St Marie's has had a ring of eight bells for more than 150 years, but hasn't had a band of bell ringers of its own since the 1960s.
Three St Marie's parishioners started learning to ring after attending heritage visits to the Cathedral's bell tower.

Their experience prompted an appeal for more ringers, initiated by Cathedral Dean Fr. Christopher Posluszny and backed by the Catholic Bishop of Hallam, the Rt. Rev. Ralph Heskett.

The response to the appeal was way above expectations, presenting St Marie's with the problem of how to train around 10 novice ringers from scratch, when most towers have only one or two trainees at a time.

Not only did the Cathedral lack trainers of its own, the configuration of its tower and the weight of its bells - the lightest of which is heavier than all but four of St John's bells - mean that only two of its bells can be used for training. St John's stepped into the breach and has been hosting two, two hour training sessions a week for St Marie's novice ringers since February.

Bob Rae, one of the three St Marie's parishioners who first started learning to ring, said: "We are really grateful to St John's and its team of expert ringing tutors.

"Being able to learn on lighter bells, which can be silenced, and using the St John's simulator and video facilities in the bell tower has brought our team on in leaps and bounds. We simply could not have done it without your help."

After five months training at St John's, St Marie's ringers have now been able to hold their first practice session using on the Catholic Cathedral's bells.
The team is continuing to learn at St John's, but hopes to be able to move training sessions to the Cathedral full time and to be good enough to ring for its services later this year.

Bob Rae & Elaine Scott

(The articles above appeared in the Sept/2018 issue of Inspire)  

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