Bellringing Webnews Reviews and ratings of quality, hand-picked, UK websites
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Bellringing on the Net
The art of change ringing is peculiar to the English,
and, like most English peculiarities, unintelligible
to the rest of the world ...
A Taxing problem solved and Noise free practice
I have just received an email from Jason Carter who writes:-
"I really enjoyed reading your site, and I think I might know where your missing site is (regarding income tax for bellringers!) - try: http://www.ringing.info/taxman.html.
Indeed he has found the said site (which should hopefully amuse and delight anyone who dislikes tax!) for which I am very grateful as it was part of my original "A non bellringers look at bellringing" article until it went missing. Jason continues "I have just created a webpage which is still very simple. As a community, bellringers are constantly trying to recuit new learners. In recent years a number of grants have been provided to set up simulators which allow the bells to be rung so that the ringers can hear the bells inside (an artificial note provided by the simulator), but the bells are not audible outside. This is useful as it allows extra practice sessions to 'bring on' new learners. My site is to promote my local tower and its simulator"
I went to visit the website and it has everything you need to know about this excellent idea. If you are in Moulton, Northants then check out this site. You will find details about the simulator and further details about the centre team. They do thing such as provide speakers to give interesting talks on all aspects of the Art of Church Bellringing and Church Bells. All the contact details are there on the site.
I asked Jason to tell me more about the site, the simulator and and facilities for beginners to learn bellringing ...
One common myth is that bellringing is a closed shop and you can only do it if you are invited to come. This is not true. Moulton currently has a number of learners, ages ranging from about 13 (you must be at least 10 years old), right up to 70+. It is a fun hobby, and at the same time very interesting, as well as giving a new social circle. There is also an element of service to the church i.e ringing for sunday services when you are proficient. Moulton (and indeed any other tower in the country) would be pleased if learners wanted to join in. The best way to find out is probably to look at notice boards and/or ask the vicar/churchwardens although contact details are often also found in parish and village magazines.
Jason also mentioned another brilliant site that has everything you could want on bellringing including a link to the Ringing Centres Directory (of which Moulton is part) http://www.ringing.info/
If you type "Bellringing" into the powerful and popular google search engine the site that comes up first is the excellent bellringing website of St Bartholomew's Parish Church, Colne. A totally unpretentious and easy to navigate site with a nice colourful menu on your left. We are greeted with a lovely B/W sketch of the church worth a 1000 treacle slow flash movie extravaganzas. Even if you are not a bellringer this site is of interest. There is an especially interesting history of the bells which date back to 1550. If you have a club or hobby site then this is also a good webpage to study. I spoke to the webmaster Paul Brown
Has the site attracted any new bellringers?
As yet the site hasn't attracted any new learners. Its main purpose is to provide as much information as possible on bellringing at St Bartholomew's, together with a slice of history. I may include a special learner's page in the near future to try and actively appeal for new ringers, though I would have to back this up by trying to get links to the site added on numerous local web pages.
What is the history of the site?
I set it up in May 2000 and had five basic pages: Ringing Times, Ringers, Tower History, Events and Bell Statistics. By the end of the year it had expanded quite substantially into more or less what it is presently. The site now includes extensive pages on the history of the church and its bells, details of its unusually young band of ringers, a photographic tower tour, and lots of other interesting information. I maintain the site on a regular basis, updating it whenever I manage to dig up some more info or new events are on the horizon. I hope the St Bart's site gives non-ringers a good impression of (as you say) a "peculiarly English art", showing that it is not merely the realm of older generations. I am the eldest member of our band at a decrepit twenty six!
(Photo shows the Treble Bell - highest note - in the Bellfry)
Leeds Parish Church
Another site high up on the google search engine is Leeds Parish Church Bellringing section. There is a beautiful backwash of the church at night and loads of factual information and photos. There is even a 1 minute MP3 recording of the bells and a 15 second MPEG video of the ringing chamber.
The webmaster is Jeremy Kapp and I asked him for a history of the site
The bell ringing section of the site was originally created in Autumn 2000 on my personal ISP web space but was moved to the domain name www.leedsparishchurch.org.uk after one of the bellringers registered it with freenetname who provide it for free (although I understand that the service has been so popular that it is now closed to new subscribers). It was then broadened to take into account other church activities. (Editors note: See our Webhosting page for sites selling cheap domain names)
What software did you use?
The site was created using MS Frontpage 2000 with some graphics being processed using MS Image Composer that comes packaged with it. The pictures were taken using a Sharp digital camera borrowed by one of the bellringers, and this was also used to take the video segment. The music segment is taken from a CD recording made in 2000, sampled using MusicMatch software downloaded free from www.musicmatch.com . Unfortunately, the bell recording is a bit quiet. This is because the source recording is quiet, and isn't a fault with the site itself.
What are your future plans?
I have a few improvements in mind that I hope to action over the next few months.-
The video is only short but really gives an extra taste of the ringing society to add to the text, epicures and sound. If you have a club site you might consider using the feature which can be created from digital cameras costing around £100, just look for the video clip facility.
Dundee Old Steeple
I have received the following information from Adam Lamb - Operations Supervisor at Dundee Heritage Trust:
Dundee Old Steeple Grid Ref No 401 301 8 Bells, Tenor 19-2-10 in E Ringing times Sun 10.30-11.00 and 18.00-18.30 1st and 3rd Fridays 19.00-21.00
This is Scotland's highest surviving medieval tower. The Chamber also contains memorabilia related to the history of bell-ringing in the church. The original eastern clock-face has been telling Dundonians the time for hundreds of years. The Cap House was added in 1570, possibly to post lookouts. Step out onto the parapet for breathtaking views of the Tay estuary, including both road and rail bridges. A truly bird's eye view of the City of Discovery.
Dundee Cathedral Church of St Paul Grid Ref No 404 303 8 Bells, Tenor 23-1-23 in Eb Ringing Times Sun 17.30-18.30 Mon 19.00-21.00
Both of the above being members of the Scottish Association of Change Ringers www.sacr.org
I asked Andrew Cairns about the excellent NUSCR website
Tell me about the NUSCR site Andrew
We originally launched the site in 1997 at a time when we were trying to increase the visibility of The Society amongst both the University and Bellringing community in general. The site was entirely hand-coded, initially because we didn't have any other tools. Two or three members gradually came on board and we have aimed to produce a site which is both a resource to present and past members of The Society. For example we provide news and event information. Details of other local bellringing practices can be found for those currently at university. There is also a complete list of peals (bellringing's equivalent of a concert) rung for The Society since its foundation in 1958 (which is hopefully of interest to those who were here in the past).
Has it generated any interest from non-bellringers?
Whilst the site hasn't generated as much interest from complete beginners as one might hope, we have had several A-level students visiting the site who hope to attend Nottingham.
Bellringing books on the Net
If you type the name of the author and/or title at the books section at pricerunner.com before you make your purchase, you will be given a list of different websites that stock the book. You will be surprised at the range of prices for the same book. We tested the book "Discovering Bells and Bellringing" by John Camp and came up with prices from £4.99 to £6.35! The search is free and you are provided with links to the competing websites so you can click through to the cheapest.
Worcestershire and Districts Change Ringing Association
www.wdcra.org.uk is a site rich in detail and quantity (190 pages of information) and is kept tidy and up to date by the webmaster Steve Scanlon. It seems that the site started with the collection of data, then the collection of more data and only then it was decided how to index that data and then how to display it. Of course a lot of sites start with the design and then search around for the content which never really arrives! Another excellent site to check out if you are thinking of setting up one for your club or society. But note Steve's comments about this first! For those new to Bellringing there is the Resource Center where you will find an introduction and some interesting facts and figures. For example it is explained why the term ENGLISH bellringing? is used.
I asked Steve about the site and how it was set up.
The Worcestershire and Districts Change Ringing Association (WDCRA for short) web site was set up in May 2000 following the go-ahead given at the association's AGM. I had been approached before the AGM to see if I was prepared to run the site and spent many hours gathering the data to create a demonstration offline site. I use an Excel spreadsheet and with home grown macros to automate the production of the individual tower pages. These are created from a template with information pertinent to each tower substituted in certain fields. Excel macros also create the two indexes for Alphabetic and Practice night listings. This ensures everything is in step. The aid visitors not familiar with the area, I have drawn my own maps as the OS maps are copyright and the association cannot afford the royalties.
Who is visiting? And has it helped with membership?
The site attracts three to four thousand visitors per month. Examining the logs, reveals that over 80% of the visitors have not asked a bellringing question on the search engine. I have not heard of anyone recruited by visiting the site, but we do have links to pages specifically designed for the non ringer who may be interested. However the purpose of the WDCRA site is to provide information for ringers who may be visiting the area with details of practice evenings and contacts for arranging special ringing tours.
Any advice for anyone thinking of setting up a club or hobby site?
I would advise any would-be web master to consider the ongoing commitment they must make to their site. Personally I get very frustrated when visiting Internet sites that are under development or are two years out of date.
St. James' Accrington Bellringers Homepage
This is a site with great content. There is a history of the bells, videos, a photo album and best of all ... an amazing 360° Tower Roof View of Accrington. The view seems to have been taken on a day as clear as a bell! As you sweep round toward the sun the view is simply beautiful.
Beginners are always welcome. They have ringers of all ages amongst their members. Learners normally come to one of their practices to meet the ringers and see what is involved, and this is then followed by a few individual sessions with a silenced bell. Once sufficient bell control has been achieved then a learner joins our normal practices.
I spoke to the webmaster Ian Benson about this wonderful site
Great site Ian, how did it start?
I started it originally as much to serve as a notice board for the Accrington ringers of which I am one. Since then I have slowly kept adding extra pages to it.
The site has attracted quite a lot of interest from abroad, mainly Australia and the USA. A lot of these visitors are searching for Accrington on the internet as that is where their families originated from.
How was the panoramic view done?
The panoramic view was taken with an Olympus C960 zoom digital camera. I think it was 10 frames which had to be stitched together. The stitching is not perfect as I had to move my camera position during the shoot, as the flagpole in the middle of the tower roof was in the way and I had to move round it.
What are your plans for the future?
All the code for the site was created in Notepad. Plans for the future are to modernise the look of the site. Also I intend to improve the videos and record some sound files to put on.