British bellringers visit Kent

Jessica Diecidue, Campus News Reporter

On Tuesday October 24th, bell ringers from England visited Kent’s bell tower. Kent is one of the two boarding schools that have a bell tower, and Kent is the only boarding school with an active ringing program, led by Mr. Austin.

The bell ringers were on a tour of the northeast and have been ringing at bell towers all along the east coast. The group is composed of thirteen experienced bell ringers, half of whom are bell ringers who ring in churches in London; the other half of the group were their acquaintances.

Normally all ten of the bells at Kent’s bell tower cannot be rung at the same time due to Kent’s lack of ringers, but with the help of visiting bell ringers, each was put to use. Students Sevie Browne ‘19, Stella Klingebiel ‘19, and Alice Benjamin ‘18 participated in bellringing with the visiting bell ringers. Benjamin commented, “It was really cool to see them all ring because basically we never ring all 10 bells in the tower.”

When asked about how effective the visiting fellows’ help was, Mr. Austin responded, “If you have 7 people who are all learning to do something, it can be very difficult and it’s slow for us to make progress. But if you put one unexperienced ringer in with 6 other people who really know what they are doing, then there is just one person who is learning and can individually make progress quicker.”

Last year, students in the bell ringing program traveled to England to broaden their bell ringing skills. Benjamin, who attended the bell ringing trip to England last year said, “we got to learn and improve a lot while we were there, and we got to see a lot of the history of bell ringing and see where it all came from and go visit a lot of churches.”

The purpose of the bell ringing trip to England last year, according to Mr. Austin, was “to learn a lot. It was like a crash course in ringing bells. Students got to meet with frankly some of the best bell ringers in the world at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Then on foot in the city of Oxford we were able to go 7 different towers in one day. In America you would have 2- to 3-hour drives between the towers rather than a 10-minute walk.”