MORPETH CLOCK TOWER BELLRINGERS
Please note that ringing is currently suspended due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
We are a group of volunteers who ring the bells in Morpeth Clock Tower. Founded in 1706, we are the custodians of a 300-year-old tradition of bell ringing in Morpeth in the English Change Ringing style. This is an ancient art that is almost unique to the British Isles.
Located just off the Market Place in the heart of town, the Clock Tower continues to play an integral role in modern civic life. We provide ringing for civic events at both local and national level, including: Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering Day, Morpeth Summer Fair Day, Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day and New Year.
To ensure the continuation of this English custom, we actively engage with the local community to promote our art and to recruit future generations. We train people of all ages (from 9+) and from all walks of life. We like to maintain good associations with local youth groups such as Scouts, Guides and Boys' Brigade from which we recruit new band members.
The Clock Tower is open to the public three times a year. Guided tours of the tower are given by members of The Society. Tours include seeing the inner workings of the clock mechanism and having a go at ringing the bells. Admission is free, but as a voluntary organisation, we gratefully accept donations. The three open days are:
The Saturday of Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering Weekend (always the Saturday after Easter);
Morpeth Fair Day (always the 2nd Sunday in June), and;
Heritage Open Days (usually the 2nd weekend in September).
Ringing practices are held on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 until 9:00 p.m. Visiting ringers are welcome to join us on our practice nights. Please get in touch with the Tower Captain or Secretary to let us know you're coming. We also hold occasional simulator practices. Please check Latest Updates to see when the next one is taking place. All ringers are welcome. The bells are also available to visiting bands outside of practice evenings. Organisers of ringing outings, quarter peals and peals should contact the Secretary at least a month in advance of their intended visit to make arrangements.
We train people of all ages (from 9+) and from all walks of life to ring the bells in this ancient tower. If you are interested in learning the ropes we would love to hear from you. We offer a range of traditional and modern technology training aids to enhance the learning experience. These include a fully integrated simulator and CCTV system that allows beginners to learn in silence with computer-generated bell sounds (no noise disruption for our neighbours) while seeing how their strokes translate into bell movements in the bell chamber. Details are available from the Tower Captain and Secretary.
was built some time between 1604 and 1634. However, it looks much older as it was built using recycled medieval stone.
The Clock Tower houses a peal of 8 bells. The heaviest bell weighs 10 cwt, which is equivalent to half a tonne.
was presented to the town in 1936, replacing the original 17th century clock.
until aged 80 when the mechanism was electrified by Smiths of Derby, the same company that manufactured it in 1936.
When cast in 1706 by Richard Phelps for Morpeth, the bells were hung in the Clock Tower making it the first civic tower in Britain to have a peal of bells.
has quarter divisions (3 dots between the hours) instead of minute divisions (4 dots between the hours). A throwback to the original clock which had a single pointer.
The provision of the original 6 bells, hung in the Clock Tower and not the ancient parish church, gave rise to the curious local saying, 'Hae ya hard the Morpeth wonder? Church an' steeple a mile asunder!' This artwork was produced by a local ringer in 1952. It is a slight corruption of the dialect version.
and Scheduled Monument. It stands approximately 60 ft (18 m) high with walls 3' 6" (1.1 m) thick.
Two in number, there may have been four at one time (one on each corner). They were first added to the tower in 1706. Despite being renewed several times (most recently in 1951), they still don their original 18th century attire. A form of defence, they would have been used to create the illusion of look-outs on top of the tower.
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