For more information view the website of the St Peter Mancroft Guild of Ringers.
The St Peter Mancroft Guild of Ringers
The St Peter Mancroft Guild of Ringers is a voluntary guild whose members are elected by other members. The Guild, which is affiliated to both the church and the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers, is over a hundred years old. Prior to this there was a ringing society called the Norwich Scholars who unfortunately fell out with the church and were subsequently disbanded.
Under the leadership of an elected Ringing Master who holds office for up to 3 years at a time, the Guild aims to ring for Sunday services, major Christian festivals, weddings, civic events, funerals and at regular practice nights.
Practice night is Monday evenings 7.45pm-9.15pm. Entry is by the small external door at the base of the tower. If you would like ring or to learn more please contact the Ringing Master, Simon Rudd.
The Bell Tower Project – Mancroft Appeal 300
Appeal 300 – St Peter Mancroft is one of the most important historic ringing towers in the country. The first ever true peal was rung in the tower in 1715. To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the first peal and to enhance the ringing at St Peter Mancroft, major changes are proposed within the tower to make the bells easier to ring and to create a church bell ringing heritage and training centre. The principal elements of the project are:
- To reinstate the original ringing gallery removed in the late 19th century. At present the ropes have a very long draught which makes them difficult to ring and the new floor level will reduce the length of the ropes by some 35 feet.
- To introduce improved sound control. This will allow the bells to be heard across the city on important occasions but will allow the sound to be reduced on practice nights allowing the bells to be rung more often.
- To create a heritage and training centre. The heritage centre will occupy the existing ringing gallery where visitors to the church will be able to learn about the history of change ringing in Norwich and see the collection of historic artefacts such as the ringer’s medals and ringer’s (beer) jug.
- To install a ring of 8 dumb bells. The existing bells are challenging to ring and are only rung by experienced ringers. These (false) bells will operate in the same way as the real bells above but will be connected to a state-of-the-art computer programme allowing new ringers to learn in the tower and more experienced ringers to develop their skills.
History of the bells
It is suggested that St Peter Mancroft would have had five bells soon after the tower was completed c.1510. Work on the tower had probably begun in the 1390s and by c.1431 the building had reached a stage where a bell could be hung. In 1602 a treble was added to the five bells, with the new bell being cast by William Brend.
By 1652 there was also a Sanctus bell. In 1672-6 the ring was augmented to eight. In 1724 the bells were again augmented to ten, with the two trebles being cast by John Stephens. Stephens appears to have carried out the work out speculatively, but the expected subscriptions for the payment of the new bells never materialised and they were removed from the tower before October of the same year, only months after being installed.
In 1735 it was proposed to augment the bells to twelve and a subscription list was opened. However, in the event not enough money was collected to buy four new bells so two were bought, augmenting the ring to ten.
A new peal of twelve bells was cast in 1775 which replaced the earlier ten, and these are the bells that are still in use today, with the exception of the tenor bell which split in 1814 and had to be re-cast. In 1909 the ring was augmented with a flat 6th bell to allow a lighter ring of eight to be used and a 14th bell was (another treble) was installed in the 1997 to allow a light ring of ten. The peal is in the key of C and the tenor bell weighs 37cwt (1.85 tons).