The bells of St Paul's reached a historic milestone this New Year's Day, as the 100th full peal at the Cathedral was successful.
Beginning at midday on the fist day of 2015, the Cathedral Guild of Ringers took up their positions in the north tower to attempt the marathon feat.
The 12 bells, the second-largest ring of change bells in the world, sounded for just under four hours and went through 5,000 different sequences in the attempt. There was no break for any of the ringers and a single mistake would have meant the attempt failed. A full peal on these heavy and demanding bells is no trivial undertaking.
St Paul's Cathedral Guild of Ringers
City of London
Thursday 1st January 2015
5100 Stedman Cinques
Composed by Paul N Mounsey
Treble, Ann White
2, Susan L Apter
3, Alan J Frost
4, David I Bassford
5, Paul N Mounsey (Conductor)
6, Thomas F Lawrance
7, Andrew J Graham
8, Phillip R J Barnes
9, J Alan Ainsworth
10, Martin C Faulkes
11, Ian G Campbell
Tenor, John N Hughes-D'Aeth and Martin J Cansdale
The bells of St Paul's date to 1878 and have rung for some historic occasions. The first was in 1881 but it wasn't until 1909 on the 90th birthday of the incumbent Dean, that one was rung for a special occasion. The first to celebrate a royal event was for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937 and another followed for the Coronation of The Queen in 1953.
Peals with the bells half muffled to mark the passing of a major figure did not start until relatively recently. There was one in 1938 when a senior member of the Cathedral ringers died but the first to take place as part of an act of national mourning was rung after the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill at the Cathedral in January 1965. Only one more half muffled peal has been rung, to mark the death of HM the Queen Mother, Patron of the Friends of the Cathedral, in 2002.
The peal for Churchill’s funeral was only the 20th on the bells. Since then full peals have become more common with attempts taking place regularly on New Year’s Day and Easter Monday each year as well as for major events such as the Golden and Diamond Jubilees of HM The Queen, the service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Coronation and the running of the three London Olympic Marathons. Sadly, a peal to celebrate the birth of Prince George was lost after about three hours when the Cathedral had to be evacuated owing to a fire alarm.