Somerset bell-ringers go silent to help out neighbours

Bell ringers stand around a rope
The new centre aims to train the next generation of ringers without disturbing locals

A new bell-ringing centre is silencing its bells during practice so members do not bother their neighbours.

The Holy Trinity Church in Street, Somerset, uses muffles, which are fitted to the clappers of bells and mute their sound outside the church.

A simulator then allows trainees to hear back the sound they are making.

Mike Palmer, from the Glastonbury branch of bell ringers said: "Bell-ringing is a bit like marmite, some people love the sound and some hate it.

"We can spend a whole day practicing and no one outside the church knows.

"We like to be good neighbours, as if someone is training today, they could be ringing the same bell for an hour and it could become a bit tedious.

"It's really exciting for us, as we are able to muffle the bells during the training and we can still hear the bells ringing in our ears through a computer."

Norma Anselm and Les Perry smiling while pulling the bell rope
Norma Anselm said she was learning "lots" from her instructor Les Perry

Norma Anselm is new to bell-ringing and is learning at the new centre.

She said: "I'm retired now and it's something I've always wanted to do.

"I've found out that bell-ringing is not easy and it's not instantaneous.

"It's brilliant to have a centre like this where you've got dedicated experts teaching you."

'Stamina not strength'

Bell-ringing trainer Les Perry has been ringing bells for more than 40 years and teaches the new students.

He said: "This technology is brilliant to help teaching people and it gives them confidence.

"It also gives students the chance to make mistakes without the whole of Street and Glastonbury hearing them.

"Bell-ringing is more of a case of timing and feel for it rather than strength. You mainly need stamina to keep going."

The new training centre is now open and the Glastonbury branch of bell-ringers says it needs more members.

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