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The Bell Tower Open Day is a great success! (Posted 26 April 2017)

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The Bell Tower Open Day is a great success!

The Bell Tower at Chichester Cathedral
The Bell Tower at Chichester Cathedral

On Saturday 22nd April 2017, visitors were offered a rare opportunity to see inside Chichester Cathedral's Bell Tower, normally closed to the public. 
The upper levels of this medieval tower can only be accessed via a narrow steep spiral staircase. But this did not deter people of all ages coming to have a look!  All seven guided tours were full and participants enjoyed being shown around the Ringing Room, watching demonstrations by the experienced team of ringers, and seeing the bells ringing via CCTV.  One visitor described the Ringing Room as 'a hidden treasure'.  The unique Bell Meadow Belfry Mini Ring, placed outside the Cathedral, was also a great success, giving many the opportunity to try their hand at ringing bells.   

Chichester Cathedral is unusual among English cathedrals because the bells are not in a belfry above the church, but in a separate tower or campanile.  The earliest reference to the bells being rung at Chichester is in 1232. 

The present bell tower was built in the late 14th century or early 15th century.  It is 107 feet high and 43 feet square at the base, and the walls are just over 8 feet thick.   Its upper levels include the Ringing Room, which also contains the clock mechanism.  Here there is also an impressive collection of framed engravings of cathedrals, churches and clergy, and records of peals of 5,040 or more changes rung at various times from this belfry.  None of the original bells have survived, however, the oldest was cast in 1583 and the treble and second were cast in 1729.

The next Bell Tower Open Day won't be for a while, but don't despair! If you would like to learn to ring the bells, please contact Hamish McNaughton, Tower Master, by clicking here.

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