This evening St Helen’s Church, Witton (the oldest, and arguably the most beautiful building in Northwich) joined with hundreds of other churches across the country to celebrate Heritage Open Day by bringing to life the four-hundred year old tradition of English-style bell ringing for a huge audience.
The collective hour was known as Challenge 500 and was a great way to bring people’s attention to the cultural and historical significance of bell ringing and its preservation.
The team of six men and two women range in age and experience with many having rung since they were children or teenagers. But there is a real shortage of bell ringers, with teams often doubling up and working at several different churches in order to enable us to hear that beautiful sound that is unique to England. Indeed, several of the team were racing off to Warmingham Church after their exhausting session in Northwich.
The tradition of change ringing is a unique form of music that has its roots in England. Instead of ‘tunes’ the bells ring in orderly sequences that the ringers learn as patterns and then ring from memory. Ringers control the bell with a rope, while the bell turns full circle, mounted on a wheel. Famous people who are reported to have rung bells include comedians Victoria Wood, Jo Brand and Timmy Mallett, gardener Alan Titchmarsh and entertainer and writer Frank Muir.
The bell-tower at St Helen’s will be open from 1.30pm on Saturday 11th September. Go along and find out more about the hidden history of this wonderful place.