Exeter CS Bellringing Club Thriving

When a new head arrived at Exeter Cathedral School in 2012 and let slip to a parent that he was a church bell-ringer, Exeter Cathedral School’s Bellringing Club was born. Once a week, after school, the first intake of seven pupils crossed the Cathedral Yard to St Petrock and its light, but tricky, ring of six bells.

The art of ‘change-ringing” on church bells, like choral music, has deep roots in the history of the Church of England. It requires a combination of quick thought, memory, coordination, teamwork and sometimes strength. The Tenor (heaviest bell) at Exeter Cathedral weighs 72cwt (3650kg) and the whole bell goes through one revolution each time it sounds.

In 2014 the Guild of Devonshire Ringers was gifted a set of ten simulated bells. This installation is known as the Denmisch Ring, dedicated by Mischa(the benefactor) in memory of her late husband Denis. Each “bell” weighs 1cwt. This generous gift needed a home and a suitable room was found in a recently vacated storage space at the Cathedral School. These bells are linked to a computer which simulates an authentic bell sound without disturbing the neighbours! The action required to ring is identical to normal church bells.

ECS Bellringing Club continues under the guidance of a member of staff, a parent, a grandparent and other local ringers. In 2016 the Club was awarded the Sarah Beacham Award by the Association of Ringing Teachers for their project.

Not all pupils get the bellringing ‘bug’ but since the Club’s inception around 100 children have learnt this uniquely English aspect of church life. Some continue to ring at their local church and hopefully others will look back at their ringing experience at ECS and come back to it in later life.