Archive for the ‘Jubilee’ Category
This will be a triumphant year for campanologists. Bells have been rung to mark major celebrations since Roman times, but never can there have been a more spectacular year than this. The two landmark British celebrations of the decade – the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee – are going to have bells on.
The Jubilee flotilla of a thousand boats, which will sail from Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge on June 3, will be led by a “Belfry Barge”. This will house eight bells made especially for the occasion, each named after a member of the Royal family (the heaviest, at half a tonne, will be Elizabeth). These will be rung by members of the Ancient Society of College Youths; churches along the route will provide an answering peal, echoed by those throughout the land.
Eight weeks later, for the launch of the Olympics – at an unfeasible eight o’clock in the morning – all the bells in the UK will be rung simultaneously for three minutes. This includes church bells in more than 5,000 locations, school bells, town hall bells, bicycle bells and doorbells. This stunt, devised by the Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed, aims to send “a massive signal that something is happening”.
And that is not all. Bells will be rung along the route of the Olympic torch, as well as in central London during the entire four hours of the marathons (of which there are three). According to Alan Chantler of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, plans are also being considered to let out a peal whenever Team GB wins a gold medal. During the Cultural Olympiad, which begins on June 21, a mobile bell tower on London’s South Bank will perform a new piece of bell music called Wild Bells to a Wild Sky, which has been especially written by composer Howard Skempton. Even more extravagantly, the £27million Olympic opening ceremony will be kicked off with the tolling of a 27-ton bell cast especially in the Whitechapel Foundry, where 13.5-ton Big Ben was cast in 1856. This new bell, the heaviest in Europe, will be inscribed with the words of Caliban: “be not afeard, the isle is full of noises.”
All this means that an army of bell-ringers will need to be mobilised. According to Barrie Dove, chairman of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, there are around 40,000 ringers in the UK. As one might expect, many of those are aged 50 and above. But there are a significant number of energetic university groups, Dove says, and more young people are joining all the time. Continue reading on the Telegraph website