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They were originally a ring of six bells, cast by Rudhalls of Gloucester. Rudhalls were famous in their day and cast many bells in this area. The heaviest bell, the tenor, weighs eleven and three-quarter cwt (600 kg), and the original lightest bell was four and three-quarter cwt (240 kg).
In 1967 the bells were refurbished, and rehung in a clockwise direction – they had previously been hung anti-clockwise, which can make ringing quite difficult. In 1984 a new ringing-floor was installed, making ringing a lot easier, as before the bells had been rung from the ground floor, which meant that the ropes were very long. In 1997 two new bells (trebles) were added to complete the octave. The bells are in the key of F#.
Although at present we have about ten ringers, it is always difficult to find enough ringers for particular events, as it is unusual that all ten can be present at once. Because of this we would welcome anyone who would either like to learn, or who learnt as a youngster and would like to take it up again.
Ringing is not a difficult skill to learn – a bit like learning to ride a bicycle. Once the few basic techniques have been mastered it is just a matter of regular practice. The reward is the satisfaction of keeping alive a long tradition, making tuneful music while at the same time getting gentle exercise and having the companionship of fellow ringers, both at St Peter's and at many other church towers.
Ringing practice at St Peter's is on Wednesdays at 7.30 pm, and Sunday ringing is at 9.45 am.
If you're interested in learning to ring, or if you'd just like to come along and see what ringing entails, contact the Tower Captain, Clare Pritchard or email email@example.com.
If you'd like to know a little more about ringing, you may want to have a look at the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers site.
For a more local perspective, the Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers has a page on bell-ringing in Cheltenham and the surrounding area (including Winchcombe) here.