The 13th Bell The bells of Southwark Cathedral are rung regularly for the major services, and for other special occasions and practices by the Southwark Cathedral Society of Bellringers. The Society is very enthusiastic, and membership is strong and on the increase. As well as other social activities, the Society enters the annual National 12-bell Striking Competition, and in 2006 reached the final of that contest.
The heaviest bell, or "Tenor", at Southwark is in the top ten of the heaviest change-ringing bells in existence. It weighs in at 48cwt - that's nearly two and a half tons. The weight of the bells, and the age of the installation (see below) make them fairly difficult to ring. However, the superb tone of the bells makes the effort very worthwhile, and Society members are justifiably proud of the bells.
Although there are records of bells in the Cathedral from the early 1400s, the present ring of 12 bells dates from 1735. They were one of the earliest complete sets of 12 bells to be commissioned. The massive wooden frame which holds the bells dates from the same time. The English style of change-ringing for which the bells are designed, was itself only around one hundred years old at that time. Ringing on such high numbers of bells was a new phenomenon. The bells of Southwark Cathedral were involved in some of the most advanced ringing then, and have continued to be so ever since.
A thirteenth bell was added in 2005 to enable a lighter ring of eight bells to be rung.
Visiting ringers are welcomed on practice nights and for Sunday morning ringing.
For more information, including ringing times, please visit the Society website at www.southwark-bells.org.uk, or contact the Ringing Master, Jonathan Slack, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 07812 372 051.