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Campanology is the study of bells and includes how bells are made and the methods for ringing them.

In Britain campanology, or bell ringing, refers more to the study of ringing church bells rather than ringing hand bells.

Bells began to be mounted in churches in Roman times. Paulinus of Nola in Campania, Italy, was reputed to be the first to have mounted bells on a church in the 5th century. Hence the origin of Campanology as the study of bell ringing.

By around AD 930 it was common for most churches in Britain to have bell towers, with bells in them.
Campanology in history
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By about AD 960 most towers had multiple bells with up to 7 bells being the norm.

Unfortunately, a lot of the ancient bells were lost when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and abbeys, between 1536 - 1540.

The oldest dated bell still in existence is dated 1296 and is in St Chad's of Claughton, in Lancashire.

The typical, commonly thought of, bell shape came into being around the 16th century. Although the shape of church bells became consistent, the size of the bells can vary greatly, depending upon the tower space and sound pitch required.
Bells outside a bell foundary
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Bells are made in foundries by casting them from molten metal into, metal clad, clay molds.

Church bells are typically cast from the alloy bronze, which is about four parts of copper to one part of tin.

Bronze is used almost exclusively for church bells as it produces a better sound quality than iron, which can produce tinny sounding bells.

The cast bell is finished by tuning, in which metal is removed from the inside of the bell until the correct pitch is achieved and finally the bell is polished.

Today only two bell foundries still exist in Britain; Taylors of Loughborough (established in 1400) and Mears and Stainbank of Croydon (established in 1570).

Most rung church bells range in weight from 300 - 4500 ibs (or 2 - 40 cwt). The heavier bells produce a lower frequency of sound.

The heaviest run church bell is the tenor bell at Liverpool Cathedral and weights 4.1 tons.
Casting a church bell
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The church bell has a number of components which allow it to be both suspended in the tower and rung in a controlled fashion.

The bell is secured to a headstock - block of wood - by the cannons - which are metal loops formed at the top of the bell, when the bell was cast.

The wheel is secured to the headstock and holds the end of the bell rope. The wheel allows the bell to be rung, by allowing the rope to influence the bells motion.

The stay is also attached to the headstock, and allows the bell to be rested on the slider, when the bell is rung in the upright position.

Resting the bell in the 'up' position is called standing the bell and allows for the bell to be stored briefly ready for ringing.

The sound of the bell is generated by the clapper striking the inside of the bell, when the bell is rung and reaches the apex of both swings.

The bell parts & mountings
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Most towers, belfrys, typically have a peal (or set) of bells ranging in number between 5 to 8 bells.

The bells are mounted in the belfry to raise the bells into the air, so that their sound can travel over greater distances and to accommodate the bells within the confined space of the tower.

Mounting a large number of bells in the belfry can be a challenge and so bells are often mounted in the tower on multiple levels and pointing in different directions.

The bells can be mounted on wood or metal frames and controversy exists regarding which frame material provides for the richest bell sound.
Bells mounted in the belfry
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Bells have been rung for a very long time in Britain; since the middle ages.

Bells are rung for a wide range of reasons; to signify a time for worship, for special occasions such as weddings and funerals and also signal danger, for instance during World War II.

Bell ringing went through a significant decline in the last century, as the attendance of churches declined and as man developed other ways to communicate to the population.

Currently bell ringing is experiencing a revival in Britain and their are around 5,750 towers in the U.K. where bells are currently rung.
Not so modern day bell ringers in the church tower
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When a bell is not being rung it is stored in the 'down' position, in which the open end of the bell & clapper are pointing toward the ground. In this position the bell is safest, as it stable and at rest.

Bells are typically rung when the bell has been 'rung up', in which the bell is raised so that the aperture of the bell is pointing skyward.

Bells are pulled up by pulling on the rope - the fillet or sally (furry middle region of the rope) initially. Once the bell begins to increase it's swing then the end of the rope is also pulled.

Once the bell reaches its full swing it is possible to 'stand' the bell by resting the 'stay' on the 'slider'. This allows the bell to be left in the upright position during a ringing session.

To ring a bell that is "up", the bell is pulled off the stay by pulling on the fillet or sally. The bell will then swing through a complete oscillation from the hand stroke to the end stroke.

The ringer will hold the end of the rope during ringing, but will only intermittently hold the sally as the bell passes through a consecutive hand strong.

In order to keep the bell up, the ringer will pull very slightly on the end of the rope and sally, as the bell passes through the apex of each stroke.
How a church bell is actually rung
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Church bells can be rung in a number of ways.

For funerals a single bell will be rung and will typically be rung without 'ringing the bell up'. This type of ringing is called 'tolling' the bell.

'For Whom The Bell Tolls?' - the phrase was first introduced by John Donne (1572-1631) and questioned who would be next to die.

When the bells are to be rung for a church service, for instance on a Sunday morning, or for a wedding, the bells can be most simply run as 'rounds'.

The bells are numbered from 1 to how ever many bells are present in the tower. The lightest bell is numbered 1 and is called the 'treble', while the heaviest bell is called the 'tenor' - due to its lower pitch.

When the bells are rung in 'rounds' the bell sequence progresses from bell 1 to the highest bell and then repeats. This provides a sound that increase in pitch, on a diatonic scale.

SOUND CLIP - Rounds!
How ringing a 'peal' of bells works
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Change ringing originated in the 17th century in Oxford, England (Britain).

Oxford was the nucleus of many methods to ring church bells, due to its very high number and density of churches and monasteries during the 17th century.

Ring bells in patterns other than 'rounds' originate in the 17 th century and was chronicled by Richard Duckworth and Fabian Stedman in the books Tintinnologia and Campanalogia.

Change ringing involved the changing of the order in which the bells are struck - other than sequentially from 1, 2, 3 onwards (Rounds).

In change ringing no attempt to produce a musical melody is made. However, the bells are rung following a mathematical pattern.

The simplest form of change ringing are 'Call Changes'. In this form of change ringing, the bell pattern is called out to the ringer. For instance bell 2 may be instructed or 'called' into the first bells position - as a call of '2 to 1 lead', as bell 2 will now be leading the peal.

Typically in change ringing bells change position on both the hand and end stroke without guidance from a caller and this form of ringing involves the memorization of the pattern by the whole peal of ringers.

One of the more commonly rung methods is called 'Plane Bob Minor', due to its relative simplicity and short number of changes before it repeats.

SOUND CLIP - Plain Bob Minor!
Method ringing - 'Plain Bob Minor'
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