The Church bells make a wonderful sound and ring out across the town for everyone to hear – calling people to come to worship. Nationwide, it is a tradition which dates back 400 years and ringers come from all walks of life and range in age from ten to those in their eighties.
St Mary’s has a wonderful set of 8 bells and a regular group of 5 ringers who practice on Thursday evenings from 7.30-9pm lead by the tower captain, Colin Shaw. Bell ringing is a team activity that stimulates the brain and helps keep you fit and many consider it to be their contribution to church life. Others do it for the pure enjoyment of it. And, you don’t have to be a musician, you just need to be able to count!
The origins of change ringing lie in the sixteenth century when church bells began to be hung with a full wheel. This gave ringers control of their bell, which allowed sets of bells (rings) to be rung in a continuously changing pattern.
Music is created by moving bells up and down the ringing order to a defined sequence of ‘changes’ known as a ‘method’. Learning a few simple methods allows ringers to join in with other bands in towers around the world. Our own bellringers have rung at many different places including Churches around Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, and Yorkshire where they have rung at Ripon Cathedral. The outings are usually organised by Greasley Church and take place in September.
As well as ringing before church services on Sundays, the bells are often rung after weddings to echo the joy of the service which has just taken place. They are also rung occasionally for funerals and for other special events such as to celebrate the Millennium. The last full peal of St Mary’s bells was to celebrate the 100th anniversary (last July 14th) of our bells being recast and rehung. On that occasion Simon Humphrey rang and conducted the peal of ‘Bristol Surprise Major’, lasting 2hrs 55mins, and the ringers included I G Campbell who is a regular ringer at St Paul’s Cathedral!
We are keen to expand our group of ringers. Why not come along and give it a try? Practice sessions are held on Thursday evenings at 7.30pm and everyone is welcome to come & give bellringing a try whatever their standard, from complete beginners to experts. For more information please speak to Colin Shaw Tel: 932 7072
St. Mary’s has had a peal of bells since 1732. These have been recast and added to, making up the current ring of 8 bells, installed in 1910. The bearings that the bells turn on have become worn after over 100 years. In order to keep the bells ringing out over Ilkeston for future generations the bearings have been replaced and work done on the frames, wheels and clappers. The cost of this work has been over £30,000 so any donations would be very much appreciated and should be sent to Mr John Bell, Treasurer, St Mary’s Church, Market Place, ILKESTON. DE7 5JA.