Raising In Peal

(taken from: – John Heaton)

Before attempting to raise a bell in peal (with several other ringers, keeping the bells in Rounds) it is necessary to reasonably proficient at raising a single bell. In particular, you should be easily able to get a single bell to chime and to be able to pull it quite hard. You should also have developed the ability to ring a bell down (at least partly).

When raising in peal the objective is to keep all the bells in Rounds from beginning to end. Since the bells are not rung to the balance we must find some way of keeping all the bells swinging at the same speed. The bigger bells want to swing more slowly than the little bells. We were all taught at school that a pendulum will swing the same number of times in a given period no matter how high the swing is. This is not correct; a pendulum, and a bell, will take longer to swing if it has further to travel. We must use this fact to keep the bells in order. Throughout the raise the smaller bells must swing higher than the bigger ones.

The raise commences with the Treble ringer saying something like “look to, Treble’s going, she’s gone” or something similar. Many people don’t know what on earth to say and make some sort of ill-defined mumble, or grunt. The Treble will then be pulled and ought to chime. A skilled leader will have pulled the Treble hard enough to leave room for the other bells as they start. At the second pull the second bell should be made to chime. At the third pull the third bell should be made to chime. It is important that each bell first chimes at the pull following the first chiming of the bell in front. All the time, the front bells will be rising quite rapidly so that they will be swinging slowly enough for the biggest bells when they start. By the time all the bells are chiming the Treble will be swinging quite high, all the more so if a higher number of bells is being rung or the Treble is light compared with the Tenor. This means that the ringers of the small bells must be prepared to pull them quite hard.

Once all the bells are chiming the sound should be that of rapid but very even Rounds without a gap between Tenor and Treble. This chime is the backstroke, with the bells only chiming on one side of the bell. The bells will continue to rise and the Trebles will start to chime on both sides. This second chime is the developing handstroke. Room must be made for this and so the small bells continue to rise quite quickly to accommodate the handstroke chimes of the remaining bells as they appear.

Eventually, all the bells will be chiming on both sides and the pace can slacken slightly. This is important if the raise isn’t going to break apart. From now on the bells will gradually rise to the point where they are all up. During this phase the handstroke gap will appear (sooner or later depending on the whim of the leader). As the bells get near to being raised they will slow down and they must spread out to fill the duration of the Tenor’s swing.

Typical Problems

The leader goes up too slowly. This means that the large bells can’t start because the smaller bells are not leaving enough room. If you are ringing a large bell there is nothing to do but to wait.

The leader goes up too quickly. Pull!!

If all is well you will be following the bell in front very much like in Rounds, but probably a bit closer. As long as you continue to go up at the correct rate this situation will continue. There are two possible faults: you rise too slowly or you rise too quickly. If you rise too slowly your bell will not be swinging far enough. The effect of this is that your bell will ring too quickly. The cure is to pull harder and make your bell swing the correct distance. If you rise too quickly your bell will be swinging too far. The effect of this is that your bell will ring too slowly. The cure is to pull less hard.

There is more to this than meets the eye. Suppose that you realise that your bell is not far enough up because it is ringing too quickly. You start to pull harder and eventually your bell rises so that you are following the bell in front. Then something happens. You appear to be too high. The reason for this is that in getting your bell to ring more slowly you had to make it ring more slowly than the other bells. Once you got right, your bell was still ringing more slowly than the others. This meant that you continued to correct the original fault and ended up too far behind. A similar problem occurs when you realise that you are too far up and that you must pull less hard to speed up your bell. Once you get right you are still ringing too quickly for the other bells and suddenly find that you are too low. When altering your speed in order to get yourself right you must then alter your speed in the opposite way (but not by so much) in order to stay right. Remember that errors are cumulative when ringing up. Don’t over correct.

Many raises are spoilt by all the bells ringing too closely to each other, leaving the Tenor isolated. When this happens the spacing is something like:

12345 612345 6

It seems that the common perception is that the bells must ring as closely together as possible. This isn’t so. The bells must be evenly spaced between the Treble and the Tenor.