On Wednesday 25th October, a band of 12 ringers – some of the best 12 ringers in the world – rang 25,056 changes of Bristol Surprise Maximus in a little over 16 hrs.
The 12 bells of St Anne were chosen for the record attempt because of their ideal weight – not too heavy to ring for 16 hours and not too light that they race away.The modern installation means every bell responds appropriately to the effort expended by the ringer and they are exceptionally harmonious.
The bellringing started at 6.30am and the bells came round shortly after 10.30pm
The video below, filmed from the umpires’ desk, is a two minute clip from about 10.00am, after the band had rung about 6,000 changes. The second video is a clip of the final five minutes, 12 hours later, demonstrating that the superb quality of ringing was maintained throughout the peal.
Click the media player above to listen to any part of the peal. The arrow on the right of each player is a download link. However this first clip is extremely large!
Here are some samples of the ringing:
At 6.30am, the band pulled off in rounds, and after settling, went into changes
After 3 hours and about 5,000 changes the band has settled into a fantastic rhythm at a point where most peals would be finishing
Most record lengths come round after 6 and a half hours and 10,000 changes, but this band is not even half way
And after nearly 10 hours and 15,000 changes all is going swimmingly
Into the home straight. 13 hours in and 20,000 changes down
After 16 hours, the last bob goes into the final course and the bells finally come into rounds. A massive cheer from the people of Alderney and WAGs and umpires, all gathered in the church below.
Details of the day
Posted at 7.30am
Posted at 9.00am
Posted at 1.00pm
Posted at 4.30pm
7.00pm 12 hours of ringing passed 30 minutes ago. Coming up to 20,000 changes.
9.45pm One hour to go…….
And finally, the peal is scored, in 16hrs and 7 minutes. After a party in the church with many cheers, speeches, photographs food and beer, everyone has gone home at last. Eight of the band need to be up early for a peal on Wells Bells at the Channel Islands Ringing Centre. Well what else would bellringers do after ringing a 25,ooo?
See the details of the peal here on Bellboard.
What’s going on?
Tower bells are rung in rows called ‘changes’, the most easily recognisable ‘change’ is every bell sounding in descending order: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. This is written: 1234567890ET . This change is called ‘Rounds’.
Every bell must strike once – but once only – in every change. Some of the changes are particularly musical and have their own names, Queens is all the odd numbered bells followed by all the even numbered bells –apparently Queen Elizabeth 1 was particularly fond of this one – hence its name. Queens on 12 is 13579E24680T
Tittums is 172839405E6T & sounds like tee tum tee tum tee tum tee tum tee tum tee tum
Whittingtons is 531246E9780T & sounds like ‘turn again Whittington Lord Mayor of London’ – named for the sound emanating from St Mary Le Bow which persuaded Dick to return & have another go.
If St Anne’s only had 3 bells we could ring: 123, or 213, or 231, or 321, or 312 or 132 – that’s it – all the possible combinations in just 6 different changes – it would only take about 30 secs to ring them all L
If St Anne’s only had 4 bells we could ring: 1234, 2143, 2413, 4231, 4321, 3412, 3142, 1324, 1342, 3124, 3214, 2341, 2431, 4213, 4123, 1432, 1423, 4132, 4312, 3421, 3241, 2314, 2134, 1243- that’s it – all 24 possible combinations – it would take just under 2 mins to ring them all L
Ringing 5 bells you have 120 different combinations which takes about 5 mins to ring.
Our old 6 bells would only generate 720 different combinations. It was because of this limitation we chose to augment to 12 bells in 2013.
There are an incredible 479,001,600 different changes possible on 12 bells. It would take about 50 years to ring them allJ
At 6.30am this morning the ringers started in rounds -1234567890ET & then the next change they rang was 2143658709TE then they rang 123468507T9E then 21438605T7E9 etc. All the ringers have memorised an algorithm to move from one change to another without ‘stealing’ somebody else’s place. Today’s algorithm is called Bristol Surprise Maximus. It is the job of the conductor – (c), today ringing bell no 1, to announce when the ringers must move from one part of the pattern to another to avoid any duplication in the changes. The umpires must check that the bells are still in their expected order throughout the ringing – there must never be an occasion when a duplicate change is generated.
The current record for the most number of all-different-changes rung on 12 bells in one session is 21,216. This was achieved 2 years ago in South Petherton, Somerset. Eight of todays ringers took part in that achievement & are today trying to break their own record
Bells are weighed when they leave the foundry. Their weight is recorded as 3 digits which refer to cwt, ¼ cwt and pounds. Our lightest bell is 3-1-11 = 3cwt, 1qtr & 11lbs = 336+28+11 lbs = 365 lbs = 165Kg. Our heaviest bell is 13-1-0= 1,456 + 28 + 0 = 1,484lbs = 673 Kilos
Bellringers always join their local territorial society – here on Alderney we are all members of the Winchester & Portsmouth Guild. Ringers may also join an association where all the members share an occupation eg The Railwayman’s Guild or The Medical Guild etc. Ringers have grouped themselves as a result of all experiencing open heart surgery – The Zipper SocietyJ, or having graduated from the University of London/Oxford/Southampton etc. All of todays ringers are members of The Ancient Society Of College Youths – founded in 1637, it claims to be the premier Change ringing Society in the City Of London. It has a National & International membership & promotes excellence in ringing throughout the world. However 3 of the umpires (and 2 Alderney ringers) are members of the equally prestigious Society of Royal Cumberland Youths where again the members are selected by ability on the end of the rope. Founded in 1747 when the prominent London ringing society, known as the London Scholars, rang the bells at Shoreditch church as the Duke of Cumberland passed by on his return from the Battle of Culloden. Victory was hailed everywhere and it became popular to adopt the name ‘Cumberland’ at every opportunity and thus the London Scholars changed their name. There is much friendly rivalry between the College Youths and the Cumberlands. The very first peal on our glorious 12 bells (25th Jan 2014) was rung by a band comprising all Cumberland ringers (and included our 3 Alderney Cumberlands) & our sallies (the coloured wool lengths half way along the ropes) are claret and ivory, the Cumberland colours. There is more than a little one-up-manship going on todayJ
Bell number 1 (the treble, our lightest bell weighs 3cwt 1qtr & 11lbs) is being rung by Matt Hilling (C) *
Matt’s home tower is Exeter Cathedral which, as the second heaviest set of 12 bells, is somewhat different to the bells at St Anne’s. However, ringing the treble shouldn’t pose a problem as Matt rang the treble at South Petherton in 2015 for 14h30. Having learnt to ring at the age of 11 at Eynsford in Kent he has now been ringing for nearly 30 years and has recently rung his 1000th peal although only 10 of those have been longer than 10,000 changes. Matt’s task is to conduct this long peal and to ensure the bells ring the changes specified. Away from bell ringing, Matt balances his busy life as a Computing Development Officer at Exeter University with playing sport (Frisbee and badminton) and entertaining his young children.
Bell 2 weighs 3-2-8 and is being rung by John Hughes-D’Aeth*
John learned to ring at Southport (Lancashire) in 1972 aged 9, taught by his mother (Celia, herself a well-known ringer). After spells in Cambridge, London and St Albans, he now lives and rings at Little Milton, a pretty village in Oxfordshire. He is also a member of the bands at St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. He rang for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, and received a piece of wedding cake (in a monogrammed tin) as a thank you! He was Master of the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1988/9 and Hon Sec from 2004 to 2011. He has rung something over 1600 peals, including approaching 700 as conductor. His 15 long lengths include the “big” all the work peals of Surprise Major (8 bells), Royal (10 bells) and Maximus (12 bells) and 25,560 changes of London Royal on 2 handbells – maintaining one pattern in his left hand and another pattern in his right hand! In his day job he is a partner at City law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, where his speciality is advising on and negotiating contracts for major building and engineering projects (offices, roads, tunnels etc). Most of his spare time is spent trying to keep his large and (sometimes) overgrown garden under control, but he also enjoys food (eating), wine (drinking), sport (watching) and classical music (listening) – indeed a sedentary polymath.
Bell 3 (3-2-14) Andrew Mills*
Andrew has been ringing for 46 years having rung from the age of 4 years old, achieving many notable performances along the way; he held the record as the youngest person to ring a 1000 peals, until relatively recently. He enjoys ringing peals, especially long lengths and peals on big bells occasionally! Andrew loves bells so much he has committed his life’s work to them, being a bell hanger for over 30 years and currently one of the Directors of John Taylor’s Bellfoundry in Loughborough. He is immensely proud of the quality product they are producing, such as these lovely bells at St Anne’s on Alderney
Bell 4 (3-2-19) Paul Mounsey*
Paul learned to ring aged 11 at East Retford in Nottinghamshire, Now 63, and retired, he has for many years been a member of the band at St Paul’s Cathedral in London; this is the campanological equivalent of owning property on Park Lane and Mayfair when you play Monopoly. As one of the most experienced and talented ringers in the country, particularly on twelve bells, he’s amassed about 4,500 peals of which 36 have been longer than 10,000 changes. His enthusiasm for ringing remains undiminished and he relishes a challenge, so he will cherish having the longest peal on twelve bells amongst his many accomplishments. Some might be surprised to learn that Paul once played his violin at a concert in the Royal Albert Hall, but then talent expresses itself in all sorts of different ways!
Bell 5 (3-3-16) Alan Reading
Alan comes from a ringing family and learned to ring at Sheffield Cathedral at the age of 7 – although it took him a long time to make much progress! He became interested in method construction and peal composition as a teenager, something he has continued to develop since. Alan studied Mathematics at the University of Bristol from 2005-09, graduating successfully despite all the ringing and some drinking of beer! He went on to complete a PhD in Mathematical Logic at the University of Birmingham in 2014. Alan’s time in Birmingham helped him develop considerably both as a ringer and as a mathematician. Alan has rung just under 1650 peals including 9 over 10,000 changes. He recently completed his 1000th peal as conductor becoming both the youngest and the quickest person to call 1000 peals. Alan now lives in Yatton, North Somerset with his partner Lucy who is helping to umpire this attempt. He works as a Software Developer for a tech start-up in Bristol, which allows him to combine his love of logic based creativity with plenty of ringing!
Bell 6 (3-3-27) Alistair Cherry
At 23, Alistair is the youngest of the band, having learnt to ring nine years ago in Grantham. Before leaving school he rang a number of peals, including conducting the first twelve bell peal at his home tower. The chance to hone his skills came when he moved to Birmingham to study maths in 2013. During this time he was master of the Birmingham University Society of Change Ringers and rang many more peals of increasing complexity. Despite becoming heavily involved in the ringing scene whilst also pursuing musical interests, he managed to graduate and is now beginning his second year as a maths teacher in an inner Birmingham secondary school next to an enormous church with no bells.
Bell 7 (4-0-14) Graham Bradshaw
Graham was taught to ring by his Dad in Cheshire during the mid 1980s. His peal ringing increased firstly while at University in Leicester and latterly since work took him to London. Graham is one of three past Masters of the ASCY in today’s band, having been Master in 2013. Away from ringing, Graham is a Chartered Accountant by trade and his other interests include travelling and watching Derby County’s annual struggle to achieve mediocrity.
Bell 8 (4-3-16) Roy Le Marechal*
Aged 63. Retired twice from careers in I.T. and now working more or less full time for the John Taylor bell foundry. Learnt to ring at Bishopstoke, Hants in 1967 and is still there having been tower captain since 1974. Greatest achievement there was to lead the project which saw the poor ring of eight replaced with a modern, tuneful ring of ten. Has rung over 3k peals in 49 years, conducting nearly 2/3 of them. They include 26 peals of 10k or more of which 5 were over 20k.
Bell 9 (6-0-7) John Thurman
John learnt to ring aged 11 in 1986 at Northowram in West Yorkshire. His first peal was Plain Bob Minor at Accrington but his peal ringing career didn’t really start until he moved to Northampton to study in where he got his first opportunities to ring on ten and twelve bells. Following his graduation he moved to live in Towcester where he was able to take advantage of opportunities with the local band as well as in Birmingham and London, joining the College Youth in 1997. More recently he has returned to Yorkshire and continues to ring at Halifax and take part in peal ringing in Yorkshire and Lancashire. He has rung nearly 800 peals with around 270 on twelve bells, and 7 peals of more than 10000 changes. Outside of ringing John works in IT Operations for a large financial organisation and is an avid sports fan.
Bell 10 (7-1-6) Paul Tiebout*
Paul learned to ring in Liverpool but he’s now based in London and works for the City of London Corporation. A member of the band at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, Paul was the youngster in the South Petherton line-up 2 years ago when the current record was achieved. Now aged 32, Paul has already rung nearly 600 peals, many of them on some very large bells. He is known for his physical durability and strong Liverpudlian accent. Claim to fame? Doesn’t need to eat/drink during these marathon peals!!!
Bell 11 (9-1-27) Tom Griffiths*
Tom lives in Warwickshire and his home tower is Brinklow. A 40-year-old land and building surveyor by profession, he has recently passed the milestone of 1,000 peals, most of which have been rung in the West Midlands. In 1988 he took part in a marathon effort that involved ringing three long peals in a 24-hour period, so his credentials for this attempt were impeccable. Few people know that his great uncle played the organ for the Royal Wedding when the Duke of Kent married Katharine Worsley in 1961 at York Minster!
Bell 12 (13-1-0) Michael Wilby*
From a ringing family, Michael learnt to ring in Towcester at the age of 8, and now lives and rings in Birmingham with his wife Vicky and daughter Elizabeth, who at nearly 7 is beginning to learn too. His home tower is Birmingham Cathedral and he now leads the Birmingham 12-bell band, which has proved to be the most talented and successful in the country over the last decade. Michael’s peal tally is around 1,200, of which 850 peals have been on 12 or more bells. A very experienced tenor ringer on the higher numbers, Michael’s job today is to keep the pace and rhythm for the band. He works for a major UK housing provider as Head of IT; and in his spare time enjoys architectural and landscape photography. This record peal attempt is quite a family event with Vicky, and father and stepmother Andrew and Joanne in the umpiring team.
* Current record holders – having rung in the Long Length peal of 21,216 changes in October 2015
06.30 – 08.00 Andrew Wilby & Joanne Wilby
Andrew rang his first peal in 1965 for Churchill’s funeral and has gone on to ring over 1600 since. He learned to ring in Hertfordshire and became a member of the St Paul’s Cathedral Guild and St Margaret’s Leicester Society before moving to Towcester to found the modern Towcester 12 bell band. He is also a founder of the Lundy Island Society and the National 12 Bell Contest. Andrew is a past Master and past Secretary of The Ancient Society of College Youths and in more recent years has become the Chairman and CEO of John Taylor & Co Bellfounders of Loughborough who cast St Anne’s bells. Andrew has rung a number of record lengths in the past including the tenor bell at Appleton to a record peal of 23,000 changes on 10 bells some years ago and he is here to support his son Michael to go longer and further… whilst making sure that they ring it properly!
Joanne learned to ring in 1978 in Roade in Northamptonshire, and rang her first peal in 1984. She has rung about 170 peals, more than half of which have been on 12 bells. She has been a member of the Towcester band since 1983, first on the 6 bells and then becoming a twelve bell ringer when the bells were augmented in 1990. She has no ambitions to ring long lengths but is here to support her husband who is here to support his son!
08.00 – 09.30 Vicky Wilby & David Dearnley
A comparatively late learner twenty years ago at the age of 21, Vicky nevertheless progressed quickly, ringing her first peal of Bristol Maximus just two years after first touching a rope. After periods ringing in Liverpool, Oxford and London, Vicky is now settled in Birmingham and rings at three of the city’s towers as well as being the treble ringer for the Birmingham National 12 bell competition Team.
David started ringing in 1970 at West Wickham in Kent and has rung regularly at various towers in Kent, Birmingham and London since. He is currently Secretary of the Westminster Abbey Company of Ringers. He rang his 5000th peal last year (over 1200 on 12 bells) and hasn’t given up yet! The goal of achieving sustained good striking is what motivates him. When not ringing he enjoys reading, music, the theatre and travelling abroad, especially to Venice.
09.30 – 11.00 David Hilling & Lucy Warren
David has been a member for nearly fifty years of the Westminster Abbey Company of Ringers and has rung for many national and Royal events. He is tower captain at Eynsford and Farningham in Kent and is a Past Master of the Ancient Society of College Youths. He is also a past chief judge of the National Twelve Bell Competition. Other interests include managing the village hall rebuild project, gardening, theatre and classical music.
Lucy grew up and learned to ring in Lancashire and moved to Bristol to study veterinary science. She graduated earlier this year and is now working as a vet in Weston super Mare. The majority of Lucy’s ringing is in Bristol and North Somerset, where she enjoys lots of gert lush bells! Lucy enjoys learning new skills and expanding ones she currently has, ringing provides plenty of opportunity for this. She values the intellectual side to ringing as well as the excuse to travel to a wide variety of places – Lucy looks forward to adding Alderney to this list. In her (limited) spare time she also enjoy running, cooking, walking and knitting.
11.00 – 12.30 John & June Wells
June, a retired teacher, learnt to ring in 1970 at St Laurence, Reading, whilst at University, and still rings there. She was quickly bitten by the ringing bug, ringing her first peal in 1971 and becoming leading lady peal ringer in 1972. She has now rung in excess of 1500 peals, just under half of which have been on hand bells, conducting peals in both tower and hand (51 in total). Like Stephen Rossiter and Daniel Page she is a member of the ‘other’ London Society – the Soc of Royal Cumberland Youths. When not ringing or looking after grandchildren, she enjoys walking and gardening.
John was taught to ring by his father in 1947, at the age of 10, on the 8 at Farnham, Surrey, ringing and calling his first peal in 1951. He joined the Ancient Soc College Youths in 1953, so is one of the longer serving members. His peal total at time of writing is 1740, with 734 in hand. Peals as conductor total 402. John is a past master and vice president of the Oxford Diocesan Guild. Long retired from work as a mathematics lecturer, he too rings in Reading and enjoys walking and gardening.
12.30 – 14.00 Stephen Rossiter & Daniel Page
Stephen learnt to ring at St. Mary Magdalene, Enfield at the age of 14. He rang his first peal in 1984 of Plain Bob Major. In total he has rung 335 peals conducting 58. He is ringing master at St. Anne’s Alderney and a member of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths
Daniel learnt to handle a bell in the summer of 2013, here in Alderney, then continued learning at Caversham and now rings in Reading. He has returned to Alderney every summer both to further his own ringing and to strengthen the Alderney band. He rang his first peal in 2015 on Alderney and his current peal total is 41. He was elected to the Cumberlands in March of this year and is the youngest umpire today (aged 14).
1400 – 1530 David Dearnley & David Hilling (see 08.00 & 09.30)
1530 – 1700 Andrew Wilby & Vicky Wilby (see 06.30 & 08.00)
1700 – 1830 John & June Wells (see 11.00)
1830 – 2000 Stephen Rossiter & Daniel Page (see 12.30)
2000 – 2130 Lucy Warren & Joanne Wilby (see 09.30 & 06.30)
2130 – end David Hilling (see 9.30am) & Andrew Wilby (see 6.30am)
Please see the grid of Bristol Surprise Maximus below. The ringers have to be prepared to move from one part of the grid to another whenever a ‘bob’ is called. The ‘bobs’ will prevent any duplication
And for those who are interested, here is the composition being rung.
25,056 Bristol Surprise Maximus D G Hull (25,056 no.3) 234567890ET I V O 34256 3 - 65432 - - 45362 - 2 453627T0E89 4.S7.S11 453627T8E90 7 453627T90E8 7.S11 56342ET9078 2.S3 (563427890ET) S3.S4 56342 3 64352 - 24536 a 46325 - - 2 63425 3 - 53624 - 35426ET9078 S3.S4.5.9 54326 - 64523 - 645237890ET S3.S4 X 25463 - - 53462 2 - 25634 2 - 246583079ET 5.7 (7 leads) 354267890ET b 43526 2 45236 2 - 23456 2 2 a = 184.108.40.206.29.36.39 (41 leads) b = 220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.47.49.56 (56 leads) X = 11ths.10ths.12ths
the number of leads of the various coursing orders with the tenors together are:
Little bell courses:
53246: 5+4+2 = 11**
35426: 3+2+4 = 9**
63542: 7+4 = 11
35642: 8+3 = 11
46532: 1+8 = 9**
24653: 7+2 = 9**
Pseudo little bell courses:
23456: 3+4 = 7**
Courses with the 6th home:
54326: 4+7 = 11
23645: 4+7 = 11
** = plus leads with the tenors split