Lowering In Peal

(taken from: – John Heaton)

Before attempting to lower a bell in peal you should be able to lower a single bell fully in control and without getting your rope tangled up.

The objective is to keep all the bells in Rounds. Since the big bells swing more slowly than the small bells and since the small bells swing more slowly when they are swinging further it is necessary keep the smaller bells swinging throughout and to bring the big bells down more rapidly. All through the lower the smaller bells will be swinging more than the bigger ones.

The lower starts with the Treble ringer saying something “look to the fall”, “look to the lower”, “downwards”, or maybe saying nothing at all, relying on the other ringers to realise that the lower has started. From now on the bells will come down slowly, it may be some time before the lightest even stop ringing to the balance, although they will be ringing slightly more quickly than in Rounds. It is important that the bells are kept in Rounds and that the speed is gradually increased otherwise nothing will happen. As the lower proceeds the handstroke gap of normal Rounds will disappear. If all goes well the bells will remain in Rounds and you will need to gradually take in tail rope.

This process continues until the big bells are about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way down. At this point the ringing will be quite rapid. The Tenor will cease chiming (soon to be followed by the other big bells). When this happens the leader will start to fill in the gap left by the missing chimes. This will be done by increasing the rate at which the front bells come down. The increase in rate is not large but it is noticeable and must be recognised.

Following the period of acceleration all the bells will be chiming one one side only and the Rounds will be even. The Tenor’s rope will hardly be moving whilst the Treble’s rope will be swinging substantially further (this bell may still be almost half way up). The leader will say something like “after three, miss and catch in Rounds”. Three will be counted up to. On four, the sally is not caught. This stops the bell from chiming. On five, everyone catches their sally as it starts to rise and the bells all give a final loud chime. If all the bells have been correctly caught there will now be little or no movement in the ropes.

Typical Problems

The main problem is probably that of thinking that because you are lowering a bell you don’t have to pull. Since you must keep in time with everyone else you must keep control of your bell so that you can come down at the same speed as the Tenor. This means keeping the rope tight and, at the first sign of getting too close to the bell in front, pulling a bit harder to get the bell back up a bit. It is important not to overdo any corrections that you might need to make. The comments given in the section on typical problems of raising in peal apply here.

Towards the end of the lower the pace will increase for the small bells. This should be anticipated otherwise the Rounds will break into two. Try to keep both ends of the ringing in view. Too many ringers just watch the bell they are following and don’t take into account the overall speed. Such ringers will suddenly change speed just because the ringer in front of them has. It is much better to try to keep in the correct position in the entire thing even if that means that you are nowhere near the bell in front.

As with ringing up, many learners get the impression that it is necessary to keep the bells as close together as possible during a lower. If this view is adopted the Tenor will get left behind because its speed is limited. The result will be as in ringing up, the ringing will sound like:

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At the end of the lower your bell may not chime. Some bells are difficult (especially big ones) and the only way round this is to chime them as hard as you can. There is no other way round this. If you bell appears hard to chime then special effort is required for the final catch.

Make sure that you know which bell you are ringing. It is common for the catch to be in Queens, or some other row. If you don’t know which bell you are on you may catch it at the wrong time. This is an easy error to avoid.