Ding Dong Merrily

Click to hear Ding Dong Merrily (7mins 28 secs)

Bell ringing in the UK is a unique tradition; ringing complicated peals on four or more tower bells contrasts strongly with the usual practice elsewhere of tolling a single note to call the faithful to prayer.

Other countries do, however, have larger single bells – the bell in Red Square, Moscow, weighs an astonishing 200 tons and functions perfectly satisfactorily, in spite of having an A-shaped crack in it, large enough to walk into.

Handbell ringing requires ringers to hold bells of different notes, one in each hand, and to sound them like the musicians in an orchestra at the appropriate time to perform a written piece of music.

The handbell ringers in this recording perform in the church of St Philip and St St Paul, in the village of Hallow, Worcestershire. It was a windy, december night when I went to join them and intended to make the recording in the nave, with the team spread out to left and right. When I got there I found them cramped in a room at the base of the tower which obliged me to stand in the doorway, end on to the players, who were stretched out in a single file in front of me.

In spite of my misgivings the recording won the BATRC Golden Microphone Award for 2004.

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