image of Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney

Returning to Ringing During a Pandemic

On 17th March, although we did not know it at the time, we rang our last practice night at CCSL. The bells remained silent until the beginning of August - 19 weeks. We leave the bells down after each session, so fortunately we did not have to make a special trip to the city to do this.

When we were able to return to ringing, with the support of Father Daniel, we had to turn our minds to ringing in this COVID age. At the end of July, Kin Mun and Kay Kan measured up the ringing room, and found that we could have 5.75 ringers. We weren't sure what to do with the 0.75 ringer, a tweak would get us to 6, but we erred on the side of caution and rounded down. We measured the distances between the ropes, and there were some surprises. The bells had been installed in two stages, and social distancing was not a consideration. We found that the tenor and treble were too close, even the treble and bell 3 as well. We could see which bells could be rung together, and taking advantage of members of one household not having to socially distance, our new tower captain, Priscilla Yuen, worked out a pleasing combination of bells.

We developed a COVID plan and Priscilla submitted this to the CCSL office. This included pre-arranging the band, remaining on the same bell for the ring, using santiser before and after climbing the steps to the tower, as well as before and after ringing. We decided planning for two rings was more than enough to arrange for now, so opted to ring for one Sunday session. Fr Daniel was happy to have the bells rung before the 10:30 high mass, so we are ringing just for this service for now. By the way, you can hear us (usually ringing down!) on the CCSL live-stream, just before the beginning of the service.

Ringers in the ringing chamber of Christ Church St Laurence

Ringers on 9 August 2020
From left - Alan Cutter, Kay Kan, Kin-Mun Kan, Bruce Ledden, MauPriscilla Yuen.

Our first ring was on Sunday 2nd August. Firstly, Alan Cutter climbed the ladder to make sure nothing untoward had happened to the bells in the 4+ months since we last rang. There were 4 ringers - Priscilla, Kin-Mun, Alan and Bruce Ledden. Since then, we have had a band of 5 to ring each Sunday since, with Kay Kan and Elaine Spicer able to come along as well.

Re-entering the tower to measure up, after almost 5 months, was like entering a time warp. Notices on the board were completely out of date. The scheduled AGM never happened. The October Ringing School notice was no longer relevant. The calendar still showed March. The Wyatts due date to return to Sydney was still there, even though the date had since long passed. There was an un-opened packet of Tim Tams on the table and some chocolates in the fridge (still good)!

It has been good to return to ringing, but also poignant. It is a reminder of how much ringing has changed. Not all CCSL ringers are able to return to ringing, and I for one am aware of this gap in our band. Ringing has to be pre-planned, and since virtually all travel has ceased, there are no visitors who drop in. As a city tower, we used to get a few of these. However it has been good to see fellow ringers again, and I hope the rest of our band can soon join us.

Kay Kan, 22 August 2020

Christ Church St Laurence - 160th Ringing Anniversary

Joseph Waugh, Christ Church St Laurence parishioner and historian, recently uncovered an article in the Sydney Morning Herald from 5 January 1856. It read:

CHURCH BELLS.--On Christmas Day, the new peal of six bells, recently placed in the tower of Christ Church, were chimed for the first time for Divine service; and on New Year's Day (the machinery of wheels, ropes, &c, being completed) they were rung in full swing. They are are in the key of G, and in admirable tune. These, and a like peal recently hung in the tower at Bathurst, are the only peals in the colony belonging to the Church of England. We understand, however, that the number will at no distant period be increased, and that a "merry peal to-swell the breeze" will sound from St. Philip's, in Sydney, St. Paul's, at Chippendale, and St. Mark's, Alexandria.

So, Christmas Day 2015 was the 160th anniversary of the chiming of the back six bells, and New Year's Day 2016 was the 160th anniversary of their being rung full circle. To celebrate we rang a quarter-peal on New Year's Day, followed by general ringing.

Christ Church St Laurence QP band

160th anniversary quarter peal band:
Deryn Griffiths, Esther Perrins, Tony Wyatt, Jim Carter, Basil Potts, Bill Perrins, Peter Harrison, Pam Bock.

Ringers at the Christ Church St Laurence 160th ringing celebration

Ringers at the CCSL 160th ringing anniversary celebration:
Back row - Tony Wyatt, Peter McEvoy, Ross Langford-Brown, Elaine Spicer, Maureen Perkins, Evelyn Wyatt, Marylon Coates.
Front row - Pam Brock, Peter Dickson, Kin Mun Kan, Jim Carter, Dace Vare, Deryn Griffiths, Murray-Luke Peard, Peter Harrison, Alan Coates.

Deryn Griffiths

This page supplements the ANZAB Tower Directory, and records further information about the tower, its bells and ringers.

Some of this has been provided by local ringers, but most is historical and has been gathered by the ANZAB Webmaster since 2002.

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