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Ellacombe Apparatus

The "chiming" mechanism in the vestry of St. Mary's Belchamp Walter.

Renovation of the ropes

On the bequest of one of the churchgoers the ropes of the Ellacoombe Apparatus were replaced. This is particularly evident when you are in the Bell-Ringers chamber (Silence Chamber), especially now that it has been cleaned. You can see how the ropes are fed to each bell in the belfry floor from below via a series of pullies.

While the bells are no longer hung so that can rotate, they are protected from falling into the tower below by wooden beams in the belfry.


The ropes shown in the photo above connect to a "ringing mechanism" at the bells in the belfry via a series of pullies.

The position of the "ringing mechanism", or chiming method, depends on whether the bells are intended to be rung by their "convntional" method, i.e. the pulling of the bell rope that can rotate the bell at least 180 degrees.
The tufted woollen part of a bellrope, used to provide grip when ringing a bell, is called a "sally".

Ellacombe striker/Hammer

The photo above shows a "chiming mechanism" that is presumably one that would allow "Change Ringing". Again, I reference DAC, Change Ringing is where a bell is rotated on a pivot and controlled by a rope connected to a wheel.

" English change-ringing:

In the 17th century, ringers began experimenting with means to control a swinging bell more accurately. Levers on headstocks were replaced with quarter, then half and finally full wheels. Bells could now be swung backwards and forwards through a full circle, during which the clappers would strike once at the same precise moment each time. Pausing the bell’s movement briefly at the point of balance allowed sufficient control to dictate the sequence in which the bells would strike and to change the sequence at will. Such ringing required the bells first to be raised, i.e. swung progressively higher, and additional fittings allowed them to be parked in the ‘up’ position between episodes of ringing. Ringing in this way requires a surprisingly small amount of effort. The ringer has only to pull gently at each end of the bell’s swing in order to send it on its next rotation. It is an activity that requires development of the ‘knack’ and which usually takes many weeks of practice to perfect. "

The chiming mechanism that allows the rotation of the bell on a fulcrum means that the striker is sufficiently remote from the bell so as not to obstruct the bell as it rotates. It is probably the case that this way of chiming creates an undue risk on damaging the bell. An alternative method needs to be provided so this does not happen.

This alternative method could be a mechanical or electro-mechanical device. I am also assuming that an internal chiming mechanism would be preferable. This is particularly the case in Belchamp Walter as there is limited space in the belfry.

Ellacombe striker/Hammer

Above is an External Electro-Magnetic chiming mechanism. Below an internal mechanism.

Ellacombe striker/Hammer

Background to this page

Having seen some of my history pages being found by those making an Internet search I have decided to add a bit more context on how the pages came about.

This page is linked from the BW Bells page. As it had been referenced by a Facebook user, I thought that I should update it.


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