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The Bells Ring Out

21 May 2021

On the afternoon of Sunday 23rd May our bell ringers will once again climb the tower of Durham Cathedral to ring the cathedral bells. 

During lockdown bells have been tolled before services, that is a small hammer has struck a single bell which has been possible by a member of staff pulling a rope from the floor of the cathedral.  Because of restrictions on households mixing, our highly skilled troupe of cathedral bell ringers has not been able to climb the cathedral tower to the bell ringing chamber and take part in change ringing - that is a group of people ringing multiple bells in sequence.  This will happen for the first time since March 2020 as the bells are rung before the service of Evensong on Sunday 23rd May. The bell ringers will follow the rule of six, so six bells rather than the usual ten bells will be rung. They will make their ascent around 2.30pm to ring for 45 minutes with the service starting at 3.30pm. 

Nathan Fisher, Bell Major of the Durham Cathedral Guild of Bell Ringers, says, “This is a moment we have been looking forward to. The ringing will sound different, with six bells rather than the full ten. Nonetheless, it will be a good start to returning to a normal Sunday routine of ringing for the cathedral services.  Durham is a cathedral city and the bells have been conspicuous by their absence.  I am grateful to my fellow bell ringers who will join me on Sunday as we shake the dust from the ropes and enable the bells to once again ring out across Durham.”

Durham Cathedral Guild of Bell Ringers has 12 members.  As they resume their bell ringing duties over the next few weeks, they will rotate, taking turns, always following the rule of six. They are looking forward to the moment when further easing of lockdown allows ten people from different households to be in an indoor space, and they can ring all ten bells. In addition to Nathan, the bell ringers taking part in this historic moment are Robert Criddle, Chris Mansfield, Keith Hayton, Rachel Wells and Oliver Rice. 

For more information about the cathedral bells and bell ringing please see www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/worship-music/cathedral-bells  Enquiries from budding bell ringers are always welcome.