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Ring the church bells in Barking this weekend

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 June 2019

St Margaret's bell tower captain Matt Stokes. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

St Margaret's bell tower captain Matt Stokes. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

Archant

Have you ever heard the bells from St Margaret's Church ringing out across Barking on a Sunday morning and wondered how it's done?

Some of the eight bells in the St Margaret's Parish Church bell tower. Picture: Andrew Brookes.Some of the eight bells in the St Margaret's Parish Church bell tower. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

Residents have an opportunity to learn the ropes of bell ringing, discover why it's more complicated than it might seem and how it can become "a lifetime obsession" for some.

The bell tower at St Margaret's will be opened to the public this Saturday to introduce people to a tradition dating back to 1871 in Barking and recruit new ringers from the community.

Tower captain Matt Stokes said: "I've been told these bells can be heard all the way on Ilford Lane and as far as Barking Park, so there's quite a wide group of people that can potentially hear them but not know where it's coming from or what's actually involved in it.

"It's giving people an opportunity to come up and see it - sometimes they're completely put off by it, it's not for everybody, but a lot of people do take a genuine interest in it and end up becoming life-long ringers."

Tower captain Matt Stokes is ready to show newcomers the ropes of bell ringing at this weekend's open event. Picture: Andrew Brookes.Tower captain Matt Stokes is ready to show newcomers the ropes of bell ringing at this weekend's open event. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

The tower houses eight bells that move at between 30 and 40mph and the heaviest of which weighs almost a tonne - yet can be rung by one person.

The bells are in the key of b flat - with each bell a different note of an octave - and rung in the full-circle method, which is unique to the British Isles.

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Numbers of ringers can fluctuate but Matt said interest has generally been declining over time.

"It might just be because there's other hobbies that are more accessible or people just don't know how to get involved," he said.

"A lot of people think you have to be a member of the church to be a ringer, but we're happy to take on anyone."

Bell ringing is something the whole family can be involved in.

The youngest ringer Matt has taught was eight when they started, while the oldest he knew of was ringing into his 90s.

"We always say, as long as you can make it up the stairs, you can ring," he said.

Visitors should be at the tower for 10.30am on Saturday.

Email stmargaretsbellringing@hotmail.com if you are unable to attend but interested in learning more.

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