Over 80 people turned up to learn about bellringing, see how its done and have a go at the Tower Open Day at All Saints Church, Ilkley, last Saturday afternoon. There was a brief introductory talk about how bells are rung, and how ringing ‘methods’ range from the simple to very complex, then visitors were invited up the narrow stone spiral staircase to the Ringing Chamber to see how bells are rung. Most visitors – especially the children – wanted to try their hand, and departed with a certificate to say they’d rung a bell.
Organiser Andrew Drury said “We were very glad that we had a good-sized marquee at the base of the tower, as we had a couple of cloudbursts during the day. and the visitors would have been drenched! As it was, one of the gargoyles on the tower roof was jetting water straight down over the tower door entrance, so some visitors had to dodge a waterfall to get in!” Sue Green, Tower Captain, said “We were delighted so many people came along. the visitors seemed to genuinely find it interesting, and we kept getting rounds of applause when we demonstrated how to ring the bells, which was really nice! It was fun helping people have a go, and we are delighted that 5 people have said they’d like to take up ringing as a hobby, and are coming along to Learners’ Practice Night. A strong band needs new recruits, to make sure we can carry on ringing the bells for years ahead.”.
Ilkley has a special place in the world of bellringing, as home of one of its most famous sons. Every bellringing chamber in the world will have at least one copy of a book called “Diagrams”. This is one of the Snowden Series of books authored by Jasper Snowden who was the vicar at All Saints and is buried in the grounds. Other well-known Ilkley ringers include Alan Titchmarsh, who writes occasionally about his ringing experiences.
The Ilkely ringers are planning to repeat the Open Day as part of the 2018 Heritage Open Days programme.