WHAT IS THE APPEAL ALL ABOUT?
In 1715 the Norwich Ringers rang the first recorded true peal at St Peter Mancroft. This was a remarkable achievement for the time, involving over three hours of continuous ringing, great mental concentration and significant mathematical skill by the ringer who ‘composed’ the peal to ensure that no change was repeated. Since that time, many thousands of peals have been rung, but the Norwich peal was the first and it can justifiably be claimed that St Peter Mancroft played a crucial role in influencing bellringing throughout the world.
300 years on, we want to commemorate that anniversary in a way that will leave a legacy for future generations of ringers, just as those Norwich ringers did in 1715.
We therefore plan to undertake a project with two key aims:
- To develop the art of change ringing, both locally and more widely, through education and training.
- To bring the rich history of ringing in Norwich to the attention of a wider audience.
WHAT WILL THE PROJECT INVOLVE?
In order to achieve these aims, we plan to undertake work in two key areas:
- Reordering of the interior of the tower at St Peter Mancroft to facilitate training and heritage related activities.
- Programmes of activity to train and develop bellringers and to engage and inform members of the public about the heritage of change ringing at St Peter Mancroft.
Changes to the tower interior
The main changes proposed are:
- The creation of the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre (MRDC) where members of the public will be able to come to find out more about ringing.
- The restoration of the ancient ringing room floor at a higher level in the tower than the existing ringing room in order to make space for the MRDC.
- Strengthening of the bell frame.
- Ancillary work, such as the screening of the tower from the church to avoid activity in the tower disturbing those using the church and vice versa.
Modern methods of teaching and developing ringers involve the use of computer aids and simulation of the action of real bells through the installation of ‘dumb bells’. Currently, there is no such facility in the East of England and very few nationally. At present there is no scope at St Peter Mancroft for such an installation because there is no space in the existing ringing room and no other alternative room available. Our innovative two-fold solution to this problem is to create two display areas, The first will use space in the nave of the church, close to the base of the tower. Secondly, we will restore the ancient gallery floor at a higher level in the tower and use the space thereby created at the lower level for the MRDC. The teaching centre will house eight ‘dumb bells’, linked to computer software, which will enable novice and developing ringers to learn and practice with relative physical ease and without disturbing members of the public.
The effect of having a higher level ringing room will also be to make the bells easier to ring, as there will be a shorter length of rope for ringers to deal with. This will make it easier for novice ringers to ‘graduate’ to the tower bells after learning on simulated bells. We also plan to carry out some strengthening of the existing bell frame, which will also help make the bells easier to ring and make St Peter Mancroft more attractive as a regional resource for those wishing to ring on 12 bells.
Teaching ringers and informing the public
The new MRDC will be used in the following ways:
- To teach new recruits to ring
- To develop the skills of existing ringers
- To house a permanent display of artefacts and information about the history and practice of change ringing
- To host open days for members of the public to come and find out about Norwich’s ringing heritage
We envisage that the sophisticated teaching aids for ringers will be used not just by those intending to become ringers at St Peter Mancroft but by trainee ringers from further afield and that the MRDC will be a regional resource. We also aim to initiate and encourage the establishment of links with schools, colleges and community groups with a view to recruiting ringers.
St Peter Mancroft possess some extremely historic ringing artefacts, including boards commemorating the first and other early peals. These will be on display in the MRDC, along with display boards about the history and practice of ringing. During church opening hours, visitors to the church will be able to both visit the ground-floor display area and also go up into the teaching and heritage centre and see these items, as well as use touch screens and watch videos about bellringing. At regular intervals throughout the year, we will also use the centre to host open days, during which members of the public will be able to watch demonstrations of ringing and try their hand at it. While we currently have open days, these are limited in number and we plan greatly to extend this area of activity.
WHO WILL BE CARRYING OUT THIS WORK?
The St Peter Mancroft Guild of Ringers is leading, on behalf of the PCC, in raising funds for the project and managing the MRDC once in place. However, we will be working in partnership with a number of key players, including:
- St Peter Mancroft Parochial Church Council, who are fully supportive of the project.
- The Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers and other neighbouring associations of ringers.
- At national level, the Centre Council of Church Bell Ringers, but particularly the education committee and Association of Ringing Teachers.
- Norwich City Council and Norfolk Country Council, including the Museums and Archaeological Service.
- Local schools and colleges.
WHEN WILL THE PROJECT HAPPEN?
The project was officially launched in February 2015 and if we are successful in securing our funding, the construction work will start in the Autumn of 2017. We plan to hold the Grand Opening for the MRDC on 26th August 2018, a very important date for St Peter Mancroft, as it marks the 300th Anniversary of the first ever peal of Grandsire Triples, rung at St Peter Mancroft on 26th August 1718.
WHAT WILL THE PROJECT COST?
We anticipate that the project will cost in the region of £370,000. This is split between the construction of the new ringing room floor and bell frame strengthening work and installation of the MRDC.
HOW WILL THE PROJECT BE FUNDED?
The main sources of funding will be:
- Heritage Lottery funding
- Donations from ringers, locally and nationally
- Grants from ringing associations and trusts
- Grants from local and national charitable bodies
- Donations from businesses both locally and nationally
- Donations from individuals
- Fundraising activities by St Peter Mancroft and other ringers
HOW WILL THE PROJECT BE CARRIED OUT?
An outline design (RIBA Stage 3) and cost plan have been produced using a professional team comprising consultant architect, quantity surveyor, structural engineer, bell-frame consultant, principal designer and building control officer. We have costed proposals from all of the professional team to work with us during the construction/delivery phase of the project. Appropriate contractors will be appointed following competitive tender. The St Peter Mancroft PCC will be the contracting body. A committee of six members of the St Mancroft Guild of Ringers is carrying out the management of the project.