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Cambridge bells ring a Yorkshire Surprise on Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 recently featured bellringing from Our Lady of the Assumption and the English Martyrs in Cambridge as part of its Bells on Sunday series.

The actual ringing, on January 11, lasted about 55 minutes and the recording was a four- to five-minute section mid-way through the performance. The ringers rang it as a practice but dedicated it to the memory of an RAF Squadron Leader, Kenneth Macdonald Flett, who died at the age of 96 and was married to a devout Catholic lady who worships in a Cambridge parish.

Paul Seaman is the Tower Captain at OLEM and was initially appointed by Father Philpott back in 1986. The parish does not have a dedicated band of ringers but relies on the services of local ringers from various towers in Cambridge and the surrounding area. 

The reason for not having a regular band is that the bells are the heaviest in the area and hard to ring well. Also, there are limited opportunities to ring for Masses. The parish does, however, offer the bells for any dedicated Service (such as solemn events, weddings, funerals and anniversaries).

The church was built in 1890 in the Gothic Revival style and is one of the largest Catholic churches in the United Kingdom. The tower houses a ring of eight bells that were cast by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1895. The tenor bell weighs thirty-one and a half hundredweight and is tuned to the note of D. In this excerpt you hear them ringing Yorkshire Surprise Major.

You can listen to the ringing here: The link is live for one year.

Pictured above is Paul Seaman ringing the bells at Our Lady of the Assumption and the English Martyrs in Cambridge.