Christchurch Priory Music Festival Quarter Peal

As part of the Priory Music Festival, a band of 12 bell ringers has been assembled from across Dorset and Hampshire to ring a Quarter Peal prior to Evensong at the Priory on the 12th of June, commencing about 5.15.

The method is Grandsire Cinques and it will be conducted by Jimmy Hodkin.

We hope that festival goers and passers by will enjoy what is expected to be some beautiful ringing. Ringers are welcome to come and listen from outside, where the acoustics are very different to those inside the ringing chamber! Much better!

There is no practice on 13th June because of a Gamelan Concert. This does include bells, so ringers may like to come and join the audience!

Program Notes by Tim Martin


Christchurch Priory – the Ten, cast about 1370.

Bells have been a part of the soundscape of Christchurch for many centuries. Two of the bells (numbers 9 and 10) included in today’s ring of 12 bells date from c 1370 and are precious survivors from the monastic church of Christchurch. In early times bells were rung according to strict liturgical rules and larger churches which had several bells would use specific bells for particular services or times of day.

By the early 16th Century it became more common to have bells tuned in a way that they could be rung together, to start with just in a descending scale but later on in a uniquely English style of ringing known as change ringing. This began in London and the Eastern Counties and gradually spread through the country. Although many bells were confiscated at the reformation, most parish churches were left with three or four and they quickly added to these as the fashion for change ringing took hold since the opportunities for challenge and the number of changes possible increase rapidly the more bells the ringers have at their disposal.

The bells at the Priory are the product of successive augmentations over the years. By the 17th Century there were six heavy bells hung in the tower including the two medieval bells and the current 11 and 12 which were cast at the famous Rudhall foundry in Gloucester in 1730. These became 8 in the 18th Century and were added to at the beginning of the 20th Century to make 10. The two new bells were not considered satisfactory after a few years and were recast in 1934 with the addition of two new trebles to create today’s ring of 12.

The method that the ringers are ringing today is Grandsire Cinques. This involves changes being rung on 11 bells with the tenor bell, the lowest note, rung last at the end of every change. It is believed that Grandsire was composed by Robert Roan, a minor administrator at the Jacobean court during the first flowering of the new science of change ringing.  Although many other methods have been composed over the years it remains one of the standard methods rung at churches wherever change ringing is practised and on higher numbers such as 10 and 12 it’s musical and rhythmic qualities when rung well are enjoyed by ringers and we hope, by our audience.

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