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 Church bells will keep ringing across the country

 

February 2018

church bells

The government has announced that planning rules will be adjusted to protect church bells against complaints from new residents who have moved nearby. 

Until now, churches have had to comply with noise abatement orders. Even just a handful of complaints about the noise haves often silenced local bells for good, much to the sadness of many other nearby residents.

Things came to a head when Dover council served an abatement notice on the chimes of the bells at the 14th century St Peter’s Church in Sandwich in Kent.

The housing minister helped to get the new planning rules through, saying that churches have been part of British life in towns and villages for centuries and their bells should not be silenced by new housing going up.

Now the planning advice will be changed with the proviso that: ”churches should not have unreasonable restrictions put on them because of changes in nearby land use.”

There has been a lot of support for this change as the ringing of church bells is a fundamental part of the fabric of this country. There are around 50,000 churches across the UK and a great many of them have sturdy towers containing wonderful bells.

They are rung to call people to worship or to make announcements to the community and this is nothing new. Almost everyone in the country lives within hearing of a range of bells although today many are only rung on very special occasions.

The whole concept of using bells in Christian churches can be traced back to around 400 AD, and since then they have been used for special as well as religious occasions. For instance in the 7th century they were rung to warm people of an attack. During the Second World War all church bells were silenced; to be rung only to warn of an invasion by enemy troops.

But since the 1950s on there has been a steady revival of bell ringing; and today there are groups of bell ringers all over the country making the most of Britain’s ancient church bells. Campanology as bell ringing is called is actually a very technical hobby, and some of the “peels” by the bells takes a great deal of time, practice and effort to perfect.

It is a social hobby as well, and many bell ringers go round to visit and bell ring at different churches around the country.

The church bell peals that most of us know can be heard here.

While a more complicated peel can be heard here.

And if you want to see the amazing movement of the actual bells, then this clip of the bells ringing at Westminster Abbey is fascinating.

Laterlife has prepared a feature on bell ringing. You can find out more about it here.

 

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