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Record attempt flops when bells shift course

17 October 2014

ST PETER & ST PAUL, SOUTH PETHERTON

Stilled: two of the South Petherton bells 

Stilled: two of the South Petherton bells 

A TEAM of bell-ringers has failed in its attempt to set a new world record for the longest peal of 12 bells.

It took two years' planning to bring a dozen expert ringers from all over the country to the parish church at South Petherton, near Yeovil, last Saturday. But, after four hours, the sequence was broken when two bells "shifted course", meaning that they were rung in the wrong order.

"Unfortunately, that is the end of that," the captain of bells at the church, David Purnell, told ITV News. "You are not allowed to have a shift course, because the bells will not ring true to the pattern they should be rung from. So we cannot call it a world record. It was an attempt that failed due to human error.

"I went up into the tower when they'd finished, and there was a distinct electrified atmosphere up there."

The team had wanted to challenge the current record of 16,368 changes, set at Birmingham Cathedral in 1965, with their own effort at ringing 21,216 changes of the method Cambridge Surprise Maximus, scheduled to last 14 hours.

He said that they might make another attempt on the record in the future, "but we'll leave the dust to settle for a little while first."

The ringers were subject to rules laid down by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, and had to be locked in the bell tower for the duration of the attempt. Each ringer had to ring his or her bell for the whole time without a break.

The village planned a day of community events around the effort, as part of an attempt to raise £20,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, and the church and village groups.

Shops in the area were specially decorated, and refreshments were served to visitors to the churchyard. For those not keen on hours of bell-ringing, the bell loft was soundproofed to keep noise to a minimum.

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