- Wilfrid G. Wilson
- , revised by Steve Coleman
An art of bellringing peculiarly English and producing a music of its own. It was developed in England during the 17th century, while on the Continent there was a parallel, although unconnected development in the carillon.
For centuries before the development of change ringing, the general shape and form of the bell and the uses of bellringing had been established. Probably the most characteristic sound in the medieval town was that of the chiming of bells, announcing the time for prayer or simply the hour. The bells were chimed, singly or in twos or threes, by means of a rope and lever which enabled them to be swung just far enough for the clappers to strike them. They were hung in church towers because such buildings were almost the only ones large enough to contain them.
Change ringing in approximately the form we now know it began around the end of the 16th century and expanded considerably, both in popularity and complexity, during the second half of the 17th century. The adoption of change ringing as a pastime by associations of well-to-do young men in the middle of the 17th century was particularly influential in its development, although its strength has always been as a vernacular folk art. The growth of ringing is discussed by Sanderson....