A few months ago, an accountant in one of the offices overlooking the Cathedral, asked me very politely, if we needed to ring our bells quite as often. He said that he understood that the clock chimes the hours but asked why we need to ring a bell at other times. I patiently explained to him that the bell rings for ten minutes before each services. Again he pressed me, "Why?". I answered that it rang to call people to worship, and if they could not come, to remind them that we are praying for them in the Cathedral. This good accountant seemed genuinely surprised that we expected people to come!
Then, a few years ago, someone made a complaint that the bell practice was too loud in his flat. We again listened carefully to what the man said, but gently pointed out that he had moved into a building called "The Chimes!"
These two incidents come to mind because we are about to install a new bell. This has been paid for by money raised over many years by our enterprising bell ringing team. This bell will make it easier to teach people ringing, and allow smaller groups of ringers to ring much more flexibly. Our new Diocesan, Bishop Pete, will "baptise" the bell on the first Sunday in October, which is his first Sunday leading worship in the Cathedral. Of course, the Bishop doesn't actually baptise the bell -- or dip it into the font, which would be a sight indeed -- but he will dedicate the bell to God and ask for God's blessing on all those who hear it ring.
Until then you can view the bell with its frame and clapper in the Burrows Transept. Our new bell was one of the very last to be made in the famous Whitechapel Foundry in London, which has closed after over 500 years of bell making. The family which owns the Foundry simply could not afford the millions of pounds which it would have taken to make the building safe for smelting and casting.
The clapper painted a splendid blue is particularly impressive. To me it looks like a giant's toothpick, or perhaps a traditional Scottish porridge stirrer, or spurt, for a very large pot of porridge indeed.
The bell will be raised into the tower, through the trap door which you can see at the tower crossing, later in October. Then we -- and all of those working and living in our city -- will finally hear our new bell.
So many congratulations to our Tower Captain, Simon Reading, and the whole bell ringing team, for the tremendous achievement of raising the funds for this bell, and thank you also to everyone who contributed.
The Very Revd Peter Bradley DL