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Tower Bell Band

Learn to ring bells as a member of Tower Bell Band, which rings for worship services, weddings, funerals, civic occasions. Teenagers through senior citizens with ability to climb to tower Ringing Room. Practice: 5:00 p.m. Thursdays, Ring 10:00 – 10:20 am & 5:30 – 5:50 pm Sundays. Training provided.

The Bell Tower of St. Michael’s Church

By 1751, the English Colony of Charleston, South Carolina had outgrown the Parish Church of St. Philip’s. The Colonial Assembly divided the parish and built St. Michael’s with a large steeple to contain a ring of bells and a clock. The steeple also served as a navigational landmark for the harbor and as a look-out tower during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II as well serving as a fire look-out tower until the late 1890′s. The ring of eight bells with a tenor (the largest bell) of 17.5 cwt.(1945 lbs.) was cast in 1764 by Lester and Pack of London. When the British retreated after the Revolutionary War, they stole St. Michael’s bells as a prize of war. The bells were recovered in London and returned to the joyous citizens. Later, two bells cracked and were sent back to England to be recast. When the War Between the States began, the state government confiscated bells and recast many as cannon. While the bells of St. Michael’s were not recast for artillery, they were sent inland and were cracked when the shed in which they were stored burned during the burning of Columbia, South Carolina. At war’s end, the Vestry reclaimed the metal and had the bells recast in London at the original foundry. The new frame was incorrectly installed by the local workmen, and the bells could not be rung. From 1868 until 1993 the bells were only chimed. After the 1989 hurricane, the Vestry again sent the bells back to London to the original foundry, now named The Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd., to have all the fittings replaced. A new wooden frame was fabricated and in 1993, the bells were returned to Charleston and rehung by Whitechapel, the original founders. Local ringers are now learning this ancient and uniquely Anglican art form and the bells again ring out over the city with the sounds of Change Ringing.

Ringing Schedule

Mon NO RINGING except special events
Tue NO RINGING except special events.
Wed NO RINGING except special events
Thu ADULT BELL BAND at 5:00 P.M.
Fri NO RINGING except special events
Sat NO RINGING except special events
Sun PRE-SERVICE RING 10:00 A.M. & 5:30 P.M.
Call or E-mail the Tower Captain, C.J. Cantwell at home, (843) 577-2333, or at work, (843) 723-1706, or Cantwellcj@aol.com for exact information. Peals must be arranged in advance through the Tower Captain. Peal dates are strictly limited.

The Ringers

Historically, The Anglican Church has produced several musical art forms. One of those is change ringing on tower bells. The English derived a method by which bells can be rung in an orderly, rhythmic fashion. At St. Michael’s, the ringers represent all ages and occupations. Neither musical knowledge nor unusual physical strength are necessary and new ringers are always welcome! The eight ringers (one ringer per bell) stand in a circle as shown and watch the relative positions of the colored part of the rope (the sally) as it moves up and down. Each ringer pulls the rope at the proper time. Each ringer learns the sequence of rope pulls. The ringers strive to have the intervals between each bell sound be equal. This gives rhythm and clarity to the sound.

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