The longest-ever peal of changes on 12 bells was rung at St Peter and St Paul, South Petherton (Bath & Wells), on 17 October. The previous record of 16,365 changes, rung on the bells of Birmingham Cathedral, had stood for 50 years, but was triumphantly eclipsed by the 21,126 changes of Cambridge Surprise Maximus rung at South Petherton. It took the 12 ringers 14 hours and 26 minutes to complete it — with no pauses for refreshment, or to bring on substitutes, and no comfort breaks, either. Matthew Hilling, who conducted the ringing, said that it had been a challenge. A previous attempt had come to grief, after a mere four hours, because of mistakes made by one or more ringers: “It’s hard to keep alert, and concentrate on what you are doing, for that long,” he says.
A video link to the ringing room was set up, with a screen in the church (above), allowing the local community to watch the ringing, which, during the day, about 200 people did. “It really drew people in. We thought they’d all go when evening came,” Mr Hilling said. “But at least 100 were there when we finished at 9.30 p.m., and greeted us with cheers and shouts. None of us had experienced anything like it”