“Ring the Bells”

In a recent post, I featured  Leonard Cohen’s  Anthem. The opening lines of the song call on us to “Ring the bells that still can ring….”  I find these words exceedingly poignant because the only  “ringing” bells we have left to ring are at   St Paul’s ,in the Christchurch suburb of Papanui.

St Paul's Papanui

St Paul’s Papanui

Our city’s main peal of 13 bells used to be in our old Christ Church Cathedral.

Our once upon a time Cathedral

Our once upon a time Cathedral

In the earthquake of  22nd February 2011, the bells came tumbling down, along with much of the rest of the Cathedral. As far as I know, all 13 of the bells are currently  back, where they were cast, at the  John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough, Leicestershire, undergoing extensive and expensive repairs.

When they will be heard again, in Christchurch, is anybody’s guess, considering the length of time it takes to rebuild a city, but it is conceivable that I will not hear these bells again in my lifetime. Fortunately, there are sensible people who thought to record the Cathedral Bells when they were still ours to hear.     But, sadly,  even a recording is not quite the same as the real deal.

At St Paul’s there is a peal of 8 bells and there is a  history of bell ringing at this church that dates to 1880.  These bells, and the wooden structure of St Paul’s, came through the earthquakes relatively unscathed, but some earthquake repairs were required and the church was closed for a while as a result.

All the work has been completed now and St Paul’s is looking fresh  and  revitalised.

And the bells continue to ring out, strong and true, on Wednesdays and Sundays.  It’s a good feeling, knowing that this church building, that has been on this site since 1877, has life and strength in it to last for many years to come; thanks to careful workmanship and the beauty and resilience of the kauri wood from which it was built.

For some of our citizens, who were anti-campanology, in a NIMBY sort of way, the lack of bells in the city must be a blessed relief. But, for me, an erstwhile British subject and  child of the Colonies, reared on the sounds of London’s bells, as formulated in that old nursery rhyme, “Oranges and Lemons”, a city is incomplete without the ringing of bells.

Ring the Bells of London Town

Ring the Bells of London Town

Some of my readers may remember the silence of the bells in the United Kingdom for the duration of the Second World War; they may remember that such silence leaves a hollow, a void in our sensory space, that is, somehow, deafening.

So, here I sit, trying to ‘ring the bells that still can ring’

Here I sit

Here I sit..perhaps with” rings on my fingers and bells on my toes”

Featured Books:

Early Churches in and around Christchurch by Derek and Judith Hamilton http://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/book/early-churches-in-and-around-christchurch/2741647/

The Mother Goose Treasury  by Raymond Briggs http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Goose-Treasury-Raymond-Briggs/dp/0241908000

The Children’s Bells by Eleanor Farjeon http://www.amazon.com/The-Childrens-Bells-Selection-Eleanor/dp/B000I0PP70

© silkannthreades

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98 thoughts on ““Ring the Bells”

  1. Pingback: Resting Places; a Trio | silkannthreades

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      We do want bells! “Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady upon a white horse. With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes.” 😀 I may not have a white horse but I do have music and rings and bells.

      Reply
  2. teamgloria

    there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

    hoping that your bells return soon.

    and may we say how Moved we are by the thought that they were transported all the way back over and past here to England to be soothed and repaired and made anew – (wow: the pictures here: http://www.taylorbells.co.uk/web/ !)

    thank you again for Mr. Leonard Cohen.

    he really is from somewhere completely beautiful in the soul area.

    are you familiar with Clemence Dane?

    she took her pen name from the Bells of St Clements (which we used to walk past en route to the BBC offices on the Strand….)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clemence_Dane

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Wow! indeed to the pictures on Taylors bell foundry site; who knew there were so many bells being made and repaired.
      Clemence Dane is new to me and I thank you for the introduction. *Dane* is, however, the name of the family in The Fugue in Time by RG. No connection, I am sure; just a random thought.
      And, it is thrilling to know that you walked by the Bells of St Clements; and heard them too, I suppose!
      Ring the Bells!

      Reply
  3. Just Add Attitude

    I hadn’t thought much about what the peel of bells adds to a city before I read this post and now I realize that that the peel of bells is part of a city’s soul. I know that rebuilding takes time but I hope you get to hear the cathedral bells again (relatively) soon. 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, you are right! They are part of a city’s soul; at least, they are in the sort of place that I call a ‘real’ city. Fingers crossed that the bells will be up and ringing sooner than I expect.

      Reply
  4. Tracy Rhynas

    I haven’t thought about the Bells of St Clements for years! We used to sing Oranges and Lemons as kids, and did some sort of hand actions to it, making church steeples out of our fingers, but I can’t quite seem to remember how to do it….. I do hope your cathedral bells make it home to your rebuilt cathedral in the not too distant future.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oranges and Lemons is a great action song. There are various versions. One that I remember involved chopping off heads which is probably very frowned upon these days! But it was considered mighty good fun when I was little.

      Reply
      1. Tracy Rhynas

        Ah yes, I remember that – there was definitely something that came along and chopped of their heads. If you taught that to primary school children now, you would probably get arrested!! 😉

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I reckon. There was a little hand game that went with the rhyme “Here is the church, Here is the steeple. Open the door and here’s all the people.” I tried to do the actions and my fingers got in a terrible tangle!!!

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is welcoming, isn’t it? I find it very reassuring that it is still there. I am planning another post about St Paul’s ,as soon as I can, which you may find interesting because it relates to military history, WW2.

      Reply
  5. lizzierosejewellery

    We lived in Loughborough when we first got married and I never knew it had a bell foundry (must have had other things on my mind). What a long way to go to be repaired! I thought it was nice that Taylors had a fund raising event which raised quite a lot of money towards the bill. Let’s hope you DO see the bells back in Christchurch one day 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Goodness; the foundry may have been just round the corner from you 😉 ! ( I don’t know Loughborough at all ) It is indeed a long way for the bells to go. However, I am sure it was wise to send them back to their maker. Besides there can’t be many bell foundries in the world; perhaps none at all in this part of the world.

      Reply
      1. lizzierosejewellery

        It is a fairly small town yes, but as a young couple, we didn’t go looking for those kind of destinations! They will make an extra special effort to repair the bells which came from their workshop I’m sure.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Lol; I am sure you had other interests. I have just had a look at their home page. Very interesting. Apparently there are only two Bellfoundries in the UK. And this Bell Foundry does seem to be in a residential area. ( I searched on Google maps.) The Foundry is on Freehold Street.

  6. valeriedavies

    Auckland doesn’t seem to have any bells, and I’ve missed bells every since I came to NZ.
    I used to love hearing them chime the hour in clock-towers and hear the bells ringing across the countryside on Saturdays for country weddings, and so any other times.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, I am sad that there are no bells nearby for you to hear. Perhaps the sweet song of the lovely birds in your garden is some sort of compensation. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Ralph

        Then there is Health & Safety ie hard hats and gloves. Local bye laws. Contractors & sub-contractors (all needing coffee and donuts). Possibly renting a crane which will mean the roof will have to come off. That will need builders and planning permission. 😉
        I should just close the lid if I was you my friend 😀 hehe !!

        Reply
  7. cindy knoke

    I love the sound of church bells but really only hear them in Europe….they stop me from being late! So happy all is rebuilding. Lovely post as always! And who can ever forget. “Do not ask for whom the bells toll…..” They mark birth, weddings, time, and even death. Consistent and ever ringing. Providing order to the chaos of life. Gotta get those bells back up!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes we do! Bells are so significant throughout our lives, or they used to be. I’d love to know when humans decided bells were the sound we needed to hear to mark time, to put on our livestock and animals and on our own fingers and toes. The sound of the Bell must be one of the most elemental to be so deeply rooted throughout civilizations.

      Reply
  8. greenlightlady

    A large church in our neighborhood has recorded bells that play each day every three hours. It plays the Westminster chimes and tolls the time. When I am in the garden, I always know if it is lunchtime… I enjoy the ‘bells’ since they remind me of being a newlywed, decades ago, when my husband had fixed an old mantel clock that played the same melody.

    How poignant that the silence would remind some of the war – thank you for educating me on some British history. May the streets of the world know peace.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A lovely blessing for the streets of the world; thank you. I am imagining you in your lovely garden hearing the chimes. That must be special. From my home I can sometimes hear the bells from St Paul’s Papanui ,but that depends very much on which way the wind is blowing. Well done on your husband for fixing a mantel clock. They are lovely. Do you still have yours?

      Reply
      1. greenlightlady

        Yes, we do still have it. After several moves and several sets of toddler fingers poking about… it is now in need of repair again. 🙂 It is still beautiful to look at; perhaps I’ll encourage my amazing husband to fix it again. 🙂

        Reply
  9. KerryCan

    This is such a beautiful tribute to your bells! Earthquakes scare the snot out of me–I’ve never been in one and would take a blizzard any day! I always interpret the last line of “Anthem” as hopeful–the breaks in things, like your bells, allow a new light to get in. Imperfection and that which is broken lets us see what is important and gain new insight. I hope some good comes from your broken bells.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you! Well…..if you have a bucket list, “being in an earthquake’ is not something you need to put in it! It’s totally terrible experience. Yes, I do agree Anthem is hopeful and from what I read about the bells, their repair will be a significant statement of hope and faith. In other words it might be easier to melt them and start again but the bell founders want to honour them for their survival, almost in tact, so are going to try a repair.

      Reply
  10. mixedupmeme

    I could not wait until ladysighs got her comment approved to tell you that your recording sounded great.
    ” But, sadly, even a recording is not quite the same as the real deal.” For us who have not heard the real deal, we were pleased!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Phew, so glad you could hear the bells. It is a good recording but still, for me, not quite the same as being there in the central square listening to the Bells pealing.

      Reply
  11. ladysighs

    I am reading your wonderful post in the Chromium browser and somehow I can’t get the player to work. It’s me I know. Some setting or other.
    So I asked mixedupmeme if she would listen to it because I know she does her thing in Firefox browser. I will let her tell you how it sounded.

    Reply
  12. Mrs. P

    One thing that we have around here are a lot of churches, some with bells and some not. Some ring on the hour and some ring on the half as well. So many stories of how church bells were a messenger to the people.

    In St Augustine, Henry Flagler paid for a church to be built in honor of his daughter. When it had been being built the only stipulation was that it could not have bells ringing and waking him up all the time. It was a beautiful church with many a stained glass window and eventually it became his resting place as well.

    I do hope that your bells come home soon.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Some people do dislike bells ringing too early in the morning! I am wondering if the stipulation about the bells continued once Henry was buried in the church yard? The church sounds beautiful. Does it still exist?

      Reply
  13. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    Gallivanta – How wonderful to start my Sunday morning hearing the recording of the ringing of the bells. My work took me to many locations throughout Europe and I was always in awe of the beautiful churches, the quality of craftsmanship and of course the ringing of bells if they were available. I spent much of my free time visiting and exploring churches when I was abroad. I found the quality of workmanship amazing and of course when my husband would accompany me on a trip, while I was working, he was still seeking out amazing sites. As an artist he couldn’t seem to soak up enough of the many different cultures and their equisite arts.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That is wonderful and fortuitous timing. I tend to lose track of time,so I am ever so pleased to think that I managed to have the Bells ring on Sunday. I have lovely memories of churches in Europe, too, and special memories of churches and bells in Oxford. I can imagine how the artist in your husband would respond to the beauty and craft in churches. I am sure he would be fascinated by the craftmanship that goes in to bell founding. Hope his current journey contains some peaceful memories of those times.

      Reply
  14. vsperry

    You have reminded me of the church bells at the Episcopal Church that I literally grew up in (my father was organist). They still send shivers down my spine when I hear them. We also have a cool stone library that rings on the quarter hour so you always know what time it is in our town. I do miss that living where I do.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh my goodness; organs and organists! Don’t get me started; that’s another whole side of our Christchurch experience that has changed completely. Some people don’t like chimes and bells, but I would love to hear the chime of the quarter hour. Tell me more about the Episcopal Church if you have time.

      Reply
  15. tiny lessons blog

    You have such a beautiful wooden church! I have a special attachment to old wooden churches because my parents lived in the caretaker apartment of the village church when I was born and until I was 3 years old. I learned to walk there and used to run in the church when my mom was cleaning it. First memories. It was also wonderful to hear the bells of your cathedral! I truly hope you can hear them ringing again!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      This is delightful to know. Is the church still there in the village? You have given me a lovely image to dwell upon; like something I might see on a postcard ;). Did your mother do the flowers for the church too? And, yes, I do hope I will hear the Cathedral Bells again; at least some of them.

      Reply
      1. tiny lessons blog

        Yes, my mom took care of everything in the church. I hope I can find a picture for a “post card” and a little story. I hope your week has started well and that you have nice spring weather!

        Reply
  16. YellowCable

    I just searched for the event and saw the picture of the church after the quake.That was so sad the earthquake destroyed the bell tower of the church. I am quite sure repairing process will be difficult one and time consuming.

    I think “here I sit, trying to ‘ring the bells that still can ring’” is funny 🙂 Now, I am trying to ring my bells whether I have heard a nearby church rings the bells not. I thought I have heard them but not so sure any more. I need to try to ring it harder 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Do give those bells of yours an extra ring ;). I would love to know if you hear church bells in your neighbourhood. Or maybe School Bells? Schools used to have bells once but now, I think, all the hours and schedules are given through intercom systems. Thank you for taking the time to search for the photo of the Cathedral after the quake. It is distressing for many of us to look at it which is why I didn’t post it.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I don’t think our main Cathedral bells will be up any time soon but I do hope that you , with luck, get back to your rightful home asap. But, maybe, if you have new double or triple glazed windows (will you, do you?) you won’t hear the bells that clearly when you are indoors? I would love to hear church bells every hour.

      Reply
  17. lagottocattleya

    Such a beautiful post. I love your photos of the kauri built chuch. Bells are important, and I feel your longing for the sound of the old bells. Our little chuch here, where I live, is from the 12th century and has a very distinct and low tune ringing. It always brings peace to my mind.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. It is a lovely church. I had hoped to get inside to take photos but the doors were locked. So maybe those photos are for another day. I would love to hear your church bell. Does it have an inscription?

      Reply
  18. ordinarygood

    They rang the bell on the old church of St Alban’s Pauatahanui when my youngest got married almost two years ago. It was a lovely touch. It is rung to call people to services at the church but also doubles as an alarm call so when someone had a wee play at the wedding practice the local who was “on call” dashed up to the church to see what the emergency was….whoops.

    St Paul’s looks a beautiful church – Kauri timber is tough stuff. I liked your very angled photo – so many churches fell in those dreadful quakes but this one lives on.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I have just googled your lovely St Albans at Pauatahanui and read the wonderful story of the bell, as well as Sam Hunt’s beautiful song poem about the church and surroundings. It must have been such a beautiful spot for the family wedding. Perhaps you have a post on the church itself which I have missed.
      I have been trying to visit St Paul’s for some time now. I often drive by but never seem to have time to stop; isn’t that always the way! When I went last week the weather was perfect for photos. I also found a ‘church’ person who invited me to watch Bell practice on Wednesdays. Would love to do that on one fine Wednesday evening.

      Reply
  19. Clanmother

    Oh, how well said!!! There are joyful and poignant messages held within the voices of ringing bells! So many themes, stories, music and history are linked to them. Longfellow says it the best….

    “Till, ringing singing, on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
    Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

    Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Sadly, no! But I found a charming mediaeval ‘jaunt’ ring. That will have to do. I am sure I could find it somewhere to download but my phone is weak and pathetic and can’t handle too many downloads 😦

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          How hilarious! Only eyebrows were raised? It didn’t cause a ‘flap’? Your mother makes me feel that we young’uns have very conservative ring tone tastes!

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