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St Mary’s bells are considered by many to be the best sounding bells in Sussex. Cast in 1924 by Gillett & Johnson at the Croydon bell foundry, with a tenor weighing over 18cwt, the bells are tuned to a diatonic scale in the key of E and make up the largest musical instrument in the festival.
A ‘peal’ is the term given to a set of 5000 or more changes, starting and ending with the bells ringing in order from treble to tenor. Performing the peal will take the Sussex County Association Ringers around three hours of continuous ringing, requiring all their stamina and mental concentration.
Seventeenth Century ringers were often fortified with good ale; today that is enjoyed after the peal!
If after hearing the peal you would like to experience ringing for yourself then you would be most welcome to visit St Mary’s tower (practices occur most Thursday evenings), or try a church with bells near you.
For more information, see www.scacr.org or search under “English change ringing”.