As you are no doubt aware, today as bellringers, we are called upon to perform the most sombre duty of ringing muffled for the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Many of us spent yesterday evening up in belfries, muffling the bells….or will be doing so in the next few hours or days, often in multiple churches. Many Towers will be ringing or tolling at 12 noon, in accordance with the Operation London Bridge Guidance.
However, the Guidance is not totally clear, and a number of practical questions have been raised:
The Guidance does not specifically cover Weddings, but states that ringing should be muffled (either fully or half) from now until the State Funeral, except on Proclamation Day when the bells can be run open. If Proclamation Day is confirmed as Saturday 10th September (please see the Guidance released overnight from Church Of England, attached and linked below), my interpretation of it is that this would allow for open un-muffled ringing on Saturday 10th for Weddings (but not Saturday 17th).
However, the ultimate decision on how to ring falls with the Clergy/PCC, likely in consultation with the Wedding couple.
For those of you who have not tolled before, this can be done with an open bell, or a fully or half-muffled bell. Perhaps the practicalities of removing or fitting muffles at your specific Tower would determine this. Tolling is usually carried out on the heaviest bell, but any bell can be tolled. Ideally the tolling should be very slow and steady, pausing at both handstroke and backstroke. The length of time the bell should be tolled is not specified, but it’s quite a strain to toll, so please do what you can in your personal circumstances.
There is nothing in the Guidance regarding Practice Nights, but I am aware that many feel Practices are not appropriate during the period of National Mourning. Some churches are choosing to ring Quarter Peals instead of Practice Night, however, not all Towers are able to ring Quarters, and many ringers would like the opportunity to ring in muffled sadness for the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth. Again, I would suggest that you consult your Clergy/PCC to determine if you should go ahead with pre-arranged ringing and Practice Nights.
Please record any ringing or tolling that is done at your Church on Bellboard.
Lastly, many thanks to those that have dropped everything to muffle bells and make the necessary organisation – it’s much appreciated by communities up and down the Country that the bells will be rung during this period of National Mourning.
With best wishes,