Church bells will ring out for more than three hours in one town to mark St David’s Day this year.
Bell ringers from across Wales will attempt a three-and-a-half hour peal at one of the country’s best ring of bells to mark Wales’ patron saint and national day.
Members from the four Welsh ringing guilds will meet at St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny, at 11am on Friday for the peal attempt.
The 10 bells at St Mary’s have been described as the “golden grail of bells” and are well known in the ringing world. There have been bells in the church since Medieval days although the current ring was installed in 1947 in thanksgiving for the end of WW2. One of the original bells, dated 1308, is now on display inside the church (left).
The event is organised by Andrew John (right), tower captain of St Catwg’s Church, Cadoxton, who is a member of the Llandaff and Monmouth Association and has been a bell ringer for 40 years. Andrew has been organising peal attempts to mark St David’s Day at different towers for the past four years.
He will be joined by members of his own association and other Welsh guilds. The peal of Stedman Caters (if successful) will be credited to the Llandaff & Monmouth Association, as the host Guild this year.
Mr John says, “In previous years we have rung at St David’s Cathedral and Welshpool. We were due to ring at Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, last year but we had to cancel due to the ‘beast from the east’.
“There have been other peals rung for St David’s Day over the years at various towers in Wales but organised on an ad hoc basis.”
Ringing a peal of bells is not, however, for novices. All those taking part are experienced ringers.
“It would take a few years for any new ringers to be able to manage a full peal,” says Mr John. “It can be quite hard work ringing for that length of time non-stop but also quite enjoyable if the ringing is good. Peal ringing has been around since the early 18th Century. Thankfully, peals are rung quite regularly at Abergavenny so I think the locals are used to it.”
The Vicar of St Mary’s, Father Mark Soady, says he is delighted to welcome the ringers to Abergavenny for the peal attempt.
He says, “The Bells at St Mary’s Priory were recently described on ITV Wales as the ‘Golden grail of bells’. It is a real privilege to be able to welcome ringers from across Wales to celebrate St David’s Day by ringing what I consider to be the best ring of bells in the Principality.”