THREE BLIND MICE…. SEE HOW THEY RING!
To many ringers there is little or no appeal for 3 bell ringing, yet the very existence historically of 3 bell installations led to the various rings of 4, 6 and 8 bells we enjoy today. Many 3 bell installations are usually chimed as opposed to being rung full circle.
My photograph above shows a refurbished installation of 2010 with the treble having been tuned. A new supporting twin RSJ frame carries the three elm deadstocks to which the bells are bolted, and trigger-action clappers have been fitted. The ropes are attached to levers that simply flick the clapper ball against the bell, which remains stationary. [Originally each bell here was suspended from a clamp clipped over a single steel girder with the bell hanging from the 3/4" diameter bolt holding the clamp together and allowed to swing as the clapper struck it — all 3 bolts were perilously close to being worn through when the refurbishment took place!]
In our neck of the woods there is an interesting chime of 3 (with a tenor about 2¼ cwt) at All Saints, Luddington, near Stratford-upon-Avon. These are hung in a miniature spired tower somewhat open to the elements. All were cast by William Blews and Sons of Birmingham in 1871 and inscribed 'Blews & Sons' in Victorian Gothic lettering (Bengeworth also has a similar Blews ring of 6 cast in 1872 although the 5th there is also dated 1871). Luddington's tower is too small for full-circle ringing and the groundfloor ringing room is basically a narrow cavity in the walls where you walk in about one step, almost as if the church walls didn’t line up properly when built.
A refurbishment less than 20 years ago included drilling out the remains of the cast-in clapper staples and fitting new conventional clappers. The ropes are fastened to levers bolted to the wooden headstocks giving the same swing action as we get with our bigger tower bells on the chime. Both swing chime and trigger-action clappers are ideal for allowing novice 'ringers' of all ages, shapes and sizes (well maybe not all sizes at Luddington) to actively participate in the ringing for church services. If you go to Luddington to ring keep your elbows in!
P.S. For those of you now craving for a 3 bell 'full circle fix' there is a ringable 3 at South Littleton (who knows we may get an FSG practice there one day...).
'Roger de Flaedenburg'