The Willoughby Campanile is one of only five fully portable campaniles in the world, demonstrating 'English style' full circle ringing. Whilst many people have listened to bells rung in church towers, few know about the mechanics of 'full circle' change ringing. Containing eight fully working bells together with their fixtures and fittings, the campanile illustrates the principles of 'English style' ringing, with bells controlled by rope and wheel.
Cast in Loughborough in 1998, and with a tenor weighing about ½cwt , the back six bells were tuned by Taylors' Bell Master, Andrew Higson.
In 2001, they were augmented to 8 by the addition of two new treble bells, cast by Hayward Mills Associates. The rest of the bells were then reclappered. In 2007 the bells were modified with 'twiddle pins' so the clappering can be adjusted more accurately, and stays and sliders have been provided. In 2009 the shrouding on the wheels has been extended to help the roping of the bells.
The bells are owned and maintained by George Dawson and his son Matthew.
Each of the back six bells has inscribed upon it the year of casting, 1998, T (for Taylors) and the initials of a member of the Dawson family. These inscriptions represent the last six generations of the Dawsons.
The Willoughby Campanile
Sponsored by the John Taylor Bellfoundry
The last four generations have been, or are, ringers.
The frame and fittings are the work of Hayward Mills Associates, Nottingham.
In ringing terms the word campanile usually denotes a secular ring of bells, i.e. a ring not maintained by a church. There are about 100 campaniles around the world, frequently found in private houses, garages or public buildings.
Why are the bells rung?
The bells are frequently rung at public gatherings to demonstrate 'English style' change ringing and to publicise ringing activities. This provides a source of interest and information and often generates recruits for ringing.
Experienced ringers occasionally use the campanile to practice change ringing on very small bells. Most tower bells are considerably heavier than the campanile's bells and so ringers need to develop somewhat different skills and techniques to ring small bells like these, but transition is easy
In the same way in which some people renovate and maintain old cars, the campanile also provides a great deal of fun and reward for the team of ringers who demonstrate and maintain it.
Bell Diameter Weight (lbs) Inscription
1. 9¼" 26 none
2. 9½" 25 none
3. 10" 24 WD (William Dawson)
4. 11" 34 JGD (John Gunby Dawson)
5. 11¾" 38 RRD (Reginald Richard Dawson)
6. 12" 40 JD (Jack Dawson)
7. 14" 58 GAD (George Dawson)
8. 14¾" 63 in C MDD (Matthew Dawson)
The campanile at Liverpool Cathedral
Out and about with the Campanile
Public demonstrations in this country have been given at Southwell Minster and Southampton University in May 2000, and at Armitage, Staffordshire and Wollaton Park in June 2000. The campanile was also taken to Chatsworth House in August for Peak 2000 to help young people at the event learn about the art of change ringing, and to the Dorchester Show in September 2000. In 2001, the newly augmented campanile was seen for the first time at the Ringing Roadshow at Keele University.
The campanile has been abroad many times, first visiting Utrecht in Holland in November 1999, and more recently to Holland again in October 2006, this time visiting Geldrop, near Eindhoven. It has also demonstrated English style ringing in southern Germany.
From Spring 2010 the Campanile will no longer be available for loan as it will be moving to a permanent home where more use can be made of it. Further details will appear here soon.
Now that Hayward Mills have joined with the new John Taylor Bellfoundry company the new company has agreed to be the sole sponsor for the Willoughby Campanile. To find out more about them, visit their website via the link below.
A view of the bells of the Campanile from above.
To download a clip of the bells ringing (in .mp3 format) click on the link below: