Many of you will have already heard much about this project to mark the 300th Anniversary of the first ever peal, rung at 12, tenor 37 cwt in C
Monday 19:45 Norwich St Peter Mancroft on 02 May 1715. Simon Rudd reports on the projects successful launch earlier this month.
The official launch event for the project was held in the church on Monday 16 February 2015 when invited guests from the other Norwich towers, officers of the Norwich Diocesan Association, and from surrounding Associations, local dignitaries and representatives of many local organisations joined with St Peter Mancroft Guild members to hear in more detail about the exciting plans for the tower.
As well as hearing from Simon Rudd, the Mancroft Appeal300 Chairman, there were a number of other keynote speakers. The project has three patrons, The Lord Bishop of Norwich, Graham James, Caroline Jarrold and The 8th Marquess Townshend from East Raynham. Each gave short speeches endorsing the project and encouraging support.
The main speaker was Mark Regan, the Master of the Worcester Cathedral band and he gave us an exciting insight into the back-ground to the amazing training centre that they created at Worcester and which has inspired us in turn.
We were delighted to welcome George Pipe, one of ringing’s greats, from Ipswich. He also gave us a morale boosting message.
In addition, we received a short video message from Adelaide Cathedral which has a training set-up similar to the one which we envisage. They have a whole spare tower in which to put theirs as you can see!
Guests were then invited to visit the ringing chamber to see some ringing and to look at the display items that had been put on show in the church.
So – what is our project all about? There is a misconception that we are just creating a training centre in the tower.
There are a number separate elements which form our vision. The two key thoughts behind our planning have been that —
- To develop the art of change ringing, both locally and more widely, through education and training.
- To bring the rich history of ringing in Norwich to the attention of a wider audience.
The core of the project centres on five main elements
- Installation of a ringing teaching and heritage centre (RTHC) where members of the public will be able to come to find out more about ringing and, in particular, our unique place in its history.
- The installation of a new ringing room floor at a higher level in the tower than the existing ringing room in order to make space for the RTHC.
- The RTHC will house eight ‘dumb bells’, linked to computer software, which will enable novice and developing ringers to learn and practice with relative physical ease and without disturbing members of the public.
- Strengthening of the bell frame.
- Ancillary work, such as the screening of the tower from the church to avoid activity in the tower disturbing those using the church and vice versa, and installation of air conditioning.
So, as you can see, this will be both a Teaching and a Heritage Centre, where both ringers and the general public can visit. This is a facility not just for us in Norwich, but for the whole region and we will be actively encouraging groups to visit and use our facilities, so that means you too!
Our bells will also become a little less fearsome as the draft of rope will be reduced by at least a third. We cannot achieve this without a lot of hard work and the official launch is just the firing of the starting gun. We will be organising an open evening in the near future when we will be encouraging all Association members to come and see what we are planning and to ask any questions.
Why not come and find out more for yourself, by visiting us on a practice night (Monday 19h45 to 21h15) or by joining us for a warming cuppa and a slice of cake at one of our two coffee mornings in the church’s Octagon Café on 21 March 2015 and 18 April 2015, from 10h30 to 12h30.
On 14 March 2015 there will be a concert in church, replicating the concert held in 1775 to mark the hanging of the current peal of twelve.
We also look forward to welcoming you to Norwich in May for the AGM, on the actual anniversary of the first peal.
If you have any questions for us and can’t get to speak to us in person, we would be delighted to hear from you via email.
Of course, we would also like to ask for your support. If you would like to donate to our fund, then there is an online giving site and please accept our grateful thanks.
In addition you could buy a copy of Mo Cubitt’s fabulous new book on the history of ringing at St Peter Mancroft, ‘The Bells Told’ – available in the church for £10 or by ordering a copy from the treasurer (£10 plus p&p).