Lowering A Single Bell

(taken from: – John Heaton)

In many ways the procedure for lowering a bell is the reverse of that for raising a bell but it differs in one important point; you don’t have to pull as hard. As less force is put into pulling the bell (but without letting it go slack) the sally will not rise quite to the balance. It may be steadied with the right hand only. In order to keep the rope tight the tail rope must be taken in. Now, each time the tail rope rises, the right hand can be placed slightly above the left on the tail rope and, as the tail rope is pulled, the left hand can be slid up to the right. As an alternative, whilst the right hand is managing the sally, the tail rope can be taken in between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand. Whichever method is used, about 1 or 2 inches of tail rope should be taken in each time.

Gradually, the tail end will start to protrude from the left hand so much that it start to flap about. At this point a loop should be made. One way to do this is, as the tail rope is rising after placing the right hand on the tail rope, pull a length of rope out of the left hand with the right. Pull the tail rope and as it comes down, make the rope which is now between the hands into a loop in the left hand.

The procedure continues and rope is taken in. When taking in further rope it is important not to do it by rotating the whole loop in your left hand but to just take in the strand where the tail rope enters the loop. The alternative simply results in the tail end growing and making a second loop from this is difficult. Eventually the first loop will start to flap about and so a second loop must be made in the same way as the first one was.

Once the bell is almost half way down the sally will only be bouncing a small amount. It can be safely ignored from now on. Continue to take in tail rope and make further loops if necessary. Eventually you will have taken in so much rope that you are pulling on the sally and the rope is moving up and down by about 1 foot or 18 inches. It is now time to stop it altogether. The way to do this is to catch the sally as it starts to rise from its lowest level and stop it dead. The bell will give a single loud chime. You should now be holding the sally with the bell pulling slightly on the rope. Let the rope slowly rise until the bell comes to rest.

Typical Problems

The bell doesn’t seem to be coming down. You are pulling too hard and not taking in enough tail rope. It takes a certain amount of confidence to start getting a bell down. It must be very similar to the feeling of doing a parachute jump.

The rope is going slack. Many learners get the idea that they shouldn’t pull the rope at all when lowering a bell. This is wrong, especially when ringing down a small bell in peal. In all circumstances, a bell is only under control if there is some tension in the rope. Move up the tail end a bit so that your hands are rising above your head.

There is too much rope flapping around. As the tail rope is taken up, the tail end or the loop will get bigger. Eventually it will start to flap around. It is necessary to make another loop at this point.

Your bell is almost down but you don’t know how to stop it. The bell is stopped by catching the sally quite high up just as it starts to rise. Instead of letting it rise you hold it. The bell should stop with a loud chime. Now let it rise slowly so that it comes to rest.