Church bellringers are inviting fellow villagers to learn the ropes and join them ringing the changes in one of Marshland’s finest towers.
The team at Terrington St Clement has launched a ‘peal appeal’ to encourage more people to help them keep the bells ringing out across the village and save a tradition that has been part of parish life for centuries.
Terrington is lucky to have an enthusiastic group of around half a dozen who ring the historic church bells on special occasions and practise every week – unlike the neighbouring churches at Clenchwarton and Tilney All Saints where there are working bells but no-one to ring them.
But even at Terrington they struggle with numbers and there are times when the bells have to stay silent.
“We need at least five people to ring them at any one time,” said tower captain Peter Bird. “A few years ago numbers dropped down to only two and the bells were not rung. We can cope if everyone is available but that is not always the case so we would love to have more support.
“We have some wonderful bells and they need to be used to keep them in good working order but the problem has always been finding bell-ringers.
“It is a pity that a village the size of Terrington St Clement cannot provide more ringers.”
Peter puts it down to a mix of apathy and the fact that is not a “fashionable” pastime. “It also needs commitment, taking at least three months just to master the basics and you never stop learning,” he said.
But there are big rewards. Jane Mallott, whose husband Barry is also one of the team, said: “ The bells are a piece of history and tradition and it is very satisfying to be part of this.”
Debra McGowan lives at Clenchwarton but with no bellringers there she joined the Terrington team.
“The chime of the bells has always been a big part of the church and community life,” she said.
In a bid to create some new interest, the ringers had a stall at the village autumn extravaganza and ran a competition with a trip up the tower and a chance to have a go at bell ringing as the prize.
The winners were Margaret Morton, Alan Munden, Shaun Berycz, Chris High and Lauren Orviss.
The bell tower at St Clement’s is one of the finest in the county and one of the eight bells dates back to 1595 and the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The tower was used as a location in a television programme in the 1970’s based on Dorothy L Sayers’ thriller The Nine Taylors set in a church belfry in the Fens.
The ringers try to be self-financing and with help from community groups and individuals they have refurbished the ringing room over the last few years including providing new carpeting, curtains, bell ropes, redecorating and general maintenance.
Donations have also gone towards the ringers’ red uniforms.
They usually practise every Monday evening and ring the bells every third Sunday and for special occasions including Christmas and Remembrance Sunday and for weddings.
Anyone interested in finding out more can contact Peter on 01553 827255.