The bellringers at Sheffield Cathedral have raised enough money to buy the building’s first new bell in over 45 years - but thousands of pounds are still needed to hang the instrument.
The bell will add to the Anglican cathedral’s existing set of 12, which will provide the ringers with a new note in the musical scale, as well as making it easier to teach learners.
In total, more than £20,500 is required for the casting and hanging of the bell.
Although the instrument itself will cost £6,500, the rest of the cost will be taken up by fixtures and fittings, including a new bellframe.
A fundraising concert is happening at the cathedral next month called Ringing the Changes, which will celebrate the art of bellringing through readings, poetry, music and dance.
Bellringer Judith Reading said the appeal started around 18 months ago.
“We have raised nearly half of the money so far - enough for the bell itself, but we need lots more to actually hang it in the tower,” she said.
“The existing ring of 12 bells - actually 13, because we also have a ‘flat sixth’ which gives us a slightly lighter ring of eight, but we only ever ring 12 at one time - was cast in 1970.
“This ring of 12 replaced the previous bells which had been in place since the early 1800s, although there are records going back to at least 1559 that there was a ring of four bells in the tower.”
The current bells are in the key of C sharp and have a tenor - or heaviest bell - which weighs almost two tons.
Judith added: “They are a very good ring of bells which are relatively easy to ring for their weight, but still require a very experienced band of ringers to ring them really well.
“The new bell will be slightly lighter and will join with the existing bells to give us a ‘front six’ and a ‘front ten’ of bells, in a major scale, which will be much easier for novices to learn to handle and gain experience on.”
Judith said the fundraising concert, on March 11, was ‘designed to be of interest to historians, singers, musicians and those interested in the folk tradition’.
“We will be including traditional and early music referencing ‘bell music’ and demonstrating the influence of ringing on music.”
Lute player Stewart McCoy will perform, and there will be contributions from the Beekeepers chamber folk group and solo harpist Heather Ashton.
Folk tunes inspired by ringing are also set to be sung by women’s harmony group The Gamebirds, and visitors can watch short demonstrations of handbell-ringing and ceilidh dancing.
Judith continued: “Running through the evening will be amusing and informative historical readings, illustrating both local ringing history - Sheffield was quite a leading centre for bellringing in the 19th century - and explaining the development of ringing through the ages.
“It has quite a colourful past!”
The event starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £8, including a glass of wine or juice.
Visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/FGDGGJ to book online, or visit the cathedral shop.