On Monday afterday we met in the Melksham Methodist Church at 2pm, to play the bellplates for the "Lady's Monday Club," a group of very nice ladies who made very nice mince pies and good strong English tea. We did the same again on Tuesday afternoon at Don and Jean's, and again that evening, when we played carols for the "Seend Gardening Club's" annual Christmas get together! It has been one endless round of mince pie eating (with a bit of bell ringing thrown in for good measure.) Not just this week unfortunately, but last week too. My poor digestive system doesn't know what time of day it is! The photo above shows Melksham United Methodist Church, a splendid statement of a building built in 1872, with towering Doric columns at the main entrance. One of our bellringers plays the organ for services here, and it can be seen in the centre of the photo. The building has been renovated recently, and has a light, bright, airy atmosphere.
These are bellplates, a cheaper way of making the sound of handbells ringing. The plate is held by the handle, and with an upward motion, the donger hits the plate and produces the sound. On each handle is named the sound of the bell, G6 is nearest in the photo, with a D6 and C5 also shown. A number 6 refers to a sound below middle C, and number five refers to sounds above the C. The smaller the plate, the higher the sound will be. A four octave set of bellpates costs around £1000.
With the "Potterne Handbellringers" we play on cast bronze bells which cost around £30,000 for a peel of four octaves. That is too high a price to pay for most groups, so the invention of a cheaper method of producing the sound of a bell, made it possible for groups to spring up around the world.
The "Seend Singers" sang Christmas carols during the evening, and here the three tenors can be seen sitting and waiting for their next performance. Our specially marked music rests on our music stands. Each of us plays two bells, and our notes are marked in red and green. Red for the right-handed bell, and green for the left. This, of course, causes confusion and hilarity at times, when the wrong bell is rung in the wrong hand. Hahaha!
The words of the carols were projected onto a screen, so that the 75 guests, singers, bellringers and poetry readers could sing along with the choir.