Cambridge Surprise Maximus on the bells of the Cathedral Church of St Michael, Coventry




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Published on Apr 7, 2011

I first visited and rang at this tower 5 years ago. A few months later I moved to Coventry from North Lincolnshire and from that time this has been my home tower. They are glorious bells and it feels a privelige to ring them, and to come upstairs to watch the awesome and noisy spectacle of several tons of flying metal. You will see the rollups that occur at 1:14 , and other patterns that occur in the weaving together of 12 different lines assigned to 12 bells to create a method.

There have been bells in the tower since it was built more than 500 years ago. A 30cwt 6 was recast into a 25cwt 8 in 1675, and this 8 was again recast into a 10 by Pack and Chapman of London in 1774. This ten eventually became unringable full circle due to the instability of the tower and they became converted into a chime.

The current bells were cast in 1927 by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon near London, and were hung dead for chiming in the octagon at the base of the spire. The idea of having these bells ring full circle once more had never really gone away and structural analysis showed that it would be possible to safely hang the bells for full circle change ringing, low in the tower. This was duly done by John Taylors of Loughborough in 1987.

The ceiling of the belfry is actually a stone vault, up to which the tower was completely open before the Cathedral was bombed. Of course the bells should be hung a long way above this vault, but the tower at Coventry is not strong enough to support change ringing bells of this weight any higher than where they currently are. The glazed viewing gallery was installed when the bells were hung for full circle ringing. It's floor vibrates with the noise of the bells. This is a view from the gallery of one of the practice sessions for a team participating in the 12 bell eliminator at Coventry in March 2011.

In the corner between the 10th and 8th pits is the sharp ninth, which is hung dead with a tolling hammer and is used as a service bell by the Cathedral. In the other corner is a machine that creates air pressure for the pneumatic clock chimes, which chime the Westminster quarters on 3,4,5,8 and strikes the hours on the tenor. The tenor weighs 33-3-6 (3786lb or 1717kg) and is in Db (548.5Hz)


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